Grandparents raising grandchildren: Part nine

Helpful tips for finding time for self-care while raising grandchildren.

Taking care of your grandchildren can sometimes seem to take all your time and energy. However, in order to take good care of them, it is important to take care of yourself too. Unless you intentionally carve out your own care time, it will always fall to the bottom of your to do list. This may seem okay most of the time, however you can end up feeling resentful of those in your care, and may not be able to give your best efforts. If you are feeling drained and unappreciated about all you do at the end of the day, then it might be time to make a self-care plan.

Here are some simple steps to make a self-care plan:

  • Make a “to-do” list every single day. Start with the hardest, most unpleasant task first. This leaves time to get easier, more enjoyable things done later. Be sure to put at least 15 minutes of ‘do whatever you want’ time on the list for you. It would be nice to have lots of time, but starting with 15 minutes is doable. It can be whatever you like, reading, quiet time, listening to music, having a cup of tea or a treat.
  • Delegate tasks. Just because you are the grandparent, doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Children who do chores learn that they are an important part of how a family functions as a group. Chores help them learn responsibility and how to take care of themselves. After all, someday they will have to do their own laundry, wash dishes, cook, and clean their own toilet anyway.
  • Learn to say “No.” Be choosy about how you spend your time. To avoid feeling pressured into snap decisions, say, “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” Then get back to them. Be sure you are only saying agreeing to things you enjoy and mean something to you.
  • De-clutter and get organized. Have you ever heard of the saying, “A place for everything and everything has a place?” Sometimes our stress comes from being in a hurry and not being able to find the car keys, field trip permission form, appointment card for the dentist, etc. Having your grandchildren live with you means more stuff to keep track of; yours and theirs. Figure out a filing system for important papers and forms, get and use a family bulletin board/calendar to keep track of activities and appointments. When it comes to picking up clutter, look around you. Go through one room at a time. Make three piles: keep, throw away and donate. It is amazing how quickly things can pile up. You may want to do this every few months.
  • Find a support group. You may not realize it, but many people are in the same situation as you: a grandparent raising a grandchild. Although the reasons may be different, you may find you share many of the same thoughts, feelings, challenges, and joys that others do. It can be comforting just to have someone else to talk to who understands. You may find yourself comforting someone else too!
  • Learn some relaxation techniques. Michigan State University Extension offers classes throughout the state such as RELAX: Alternatives to Anger and Stress Less with Mindfulness. Both of these offer beneficial skills you can learn to de-stress, improve relationships through positive communication and learn a variety of mindfulness skills to improve your mental and physical health.

In summary, taking care of your grandchildren is a rewarding yet demanding job. By taking time to take care of yourself, you can assure that you will have plenty of your best to give to your grandchildren. You will both benefit from your self-care plan.

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