When asked to describe what caregiving is, we often think of exhaustion from lack of sleep, stress from overwhelming demands on our time and finances, relationship challenges and caregiver burnout. All of these can be part of the caregiver experience. There's no denying that giving care is hard work!
Getting organized, preparing the home, and learning how to give personal care are important preparations. Being prepared builds confidence in our ability to provide good care.
Taking care of ourselves as we give care to another is equally important; and nourishing our soul is a requirement for joyful caring.
So how do we go about creating moments of joy as we juggle the demands of caregiving?
We can cultivate joyful caring through shared activities that our loved one enjoys - listening to their favorite music, reading a book, sharing a big cheesy slice of pizza, doing crossword or sudoku puzzles, a stroll in the park on a sunny day, a scenic drive in the country, looking through old photo albums or recording a chapter of their life in a life story journal.
"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy."
~ Rumi, 13th century Persian poet and theologian
We can also nourish joyful caring through rituals. Challenging ourselves to giving the best-ever bed bath, giving the best shampoo, or making the best oatmeal, immerses us in the activity. Something quite magical happens when we devote ourselves to a deed that benefits the one we are caring for.
Making a conscious choice to cultivate joy in caregiving reveals opportunities we would otherwise miss. And joy is found in the simple things in life . . . a gentle touch, a kind word, a bouquet of flowers from the garden, a smile, a love note, a good listener, a tea party for two, comfort food, a good laugh. In simplicity the opportunity for joy is revealed.
Throughout our experiences as caregivers we often experienced joy, but we must admit, we were not always joyful! We tired, we vented, our patience ran thin, and sometimes we even wondered why were caregivers. During times like those we reminded ourselves to restore and nurture our weary body, mind and soul. The respite replenished our spirit and we were ready again to do better. The caregiver's journey is like that.
We hope you'll find ways to make your caregiving journey a bit easier through the stories we share. Perhaps some of our experiences will bring a smile to your face or maybe a lesson learned the easy way . . . from our mistakes.
Finding and sharing your joy with the one you are caring for is deeply rewarding. May you discover and explore the many opportunities to create and nurture this spirit of joyfulness while you are giving your time and loving care to another.
We wish you the best.