We all carry around our own bundles of sticks. These are our various activities, obligations and chores. We tend to get our sticks all gathered up in a bundle that we can manage on a week to week basis - as long as there are no surprises.

So, when we take on the responsibility of caregiver, it is as if someone just handed us a brand new bunch of sticks. It is overwhelming and takes some organization. Anyone put in this situation is going to feel frustrated and put upon. When this new shift in your life occurs, remember, the greatest freedom is the freedom of choice. As you start to add your new bunch of sticks to your old bunch of sticks, you have four valid choices before you.


Look at your old pile of sticks and your new pile of sticks. Does everything in the pile REALLY need to be done? Are you doing some things because "you have always done them"? Are there some things your loved one would like done, which are not really necessary? Start by crossing things off your list. No need in prioritizing useless items. Make a "Someday, If Ever" list, if you find items that have been hanging around for months. By putting things on this list, you are acknowledging in a positive way that they may never get done. And that's OK.


Not everything needs to be done right away. With your new obligations, does it make sense to feel an urgency with every item on your list? Get a calendar and place future items in the future - six months, nine months, a year out. There will be plenty of duties that need immediate attention. Spread the sticks out in front of you and pick them up when you get to them. 


Delegate. When people ask you if they can help, give them a job. Look into house cleaning services, yard maintenance services, laundry services, food delivery services, part time care serviceS and grocery delivery services. Delegating is one of the hardest things a caregiver ever has to do. The main reason behind this attitude is the belief that "if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself". Even though there is a lot of truth in this statement, by overloading yourself, you may start to jeopardize YOUR ability to do it right.


When combining two sets of chores, look for similar items or items that compliment each other. Can your three day a week workout be combined with your three day a week clutter pick up at your loved one's house? Both are physical activities probably best done in workout type clothes. Can you take your loved one's with you for the hour you wait on your kids at soccer practice? Can you have your house cleaning service help you do some of the additional chores you have inherited for a small additional "tip"?

The key to all of these choice is that you have the freedom to design your new life. Be creative with your new bundle of sticks and you will be able to build an exciting and manageable new normal.