In a recent issue of AARP magazine (yes, I’m a member), I read the following: “When Vacation Isn’t 62% of those 45-54 have used their paid leave for caregiving.”
At the time my stepmother became ill with ALS I had over 1000 hours of sick leave available to me as well as 4 weeks of vacation a year and 8 furlough days. And I used all of them to help my father take care of her and then to take care of him when he was in the hospital. I would do it again if called for but I now know, looking back, that it wasn’t healthy for me to spend all of those hours as a caregiver and not take care of myself in the process. And that is why I struggle with good health now.
I think too often women, in particular, give so much of their time and energy in service of others that they can damage their health. Our kids need us, our parents need us, we feel a commitment to our job, our church, our friends. And it is hard for us to say no.
We love our family and friends. We don’t want to disappoint them or feel we are letting them down. But I think we better serve them and ourselves if we set boundaries and expectations and then hold ourselves accountable to those very things. I constantly have to ask myself, “what good am I if I’m so tired or not feeling well that I’m not taking proper care of myself or my father”? If I can’t give 100% to whatever task at hand, no matter how lovingly or willingly we do it, I think we need to ask for help.
And that opens up a whole other issue. Asking for help. I’m the worst. I think I’m superwoman. I can do it all. And I want to do it all. But I have to know my own limitations and not let my pride get in my way. I have to look at is as I’m giving a gift to the people who want to help too. I’m making them feel better by letting them know they are needed and wanted too. That they can contribute as much as me and as well as me. It’s a validation of their worth too.
Let’s all try and take some time off. A true vacation. Even if it is only one day to cherish and pamper yourself. Nurture yourself. It will make you feel better. Then you can pass on those good feelings to everyone around you and it’s taking better care of you and your loved ones in the long run. Joylicious!