In the online article, How to Juggle Caregiving Responsibilities and Work: Keeping It Together When Work and Care Are Pulling You Apart, the Mind Tools Content team has provided some advice on managing the work piece that may be helpful to you.
Be Honest & Assertive
Let your supervisor and coworkers know about your caregiving responsibilities and take the initiative to approach your manager when you need help managing a conflict between these responsibilities and your work. Be prepared to outline the issue, the impact and possible solutions. Convey your commitment to the team and organization while also expressing your need to be there for your family. Reach out to your human resources department to understand how to make the most of company benefit and leave plans and to understand which policies may apply to your situation.
Tip: When you have bandwidth again, be willing to help cover for a coworker struggling with family responsibilities. Think of it as making a good will deposit back into the account where you took a withdrawal previously.
Invest in Your Organizational Skills and Tools
- Using strategies and technology to get more organized may help you “find time”. It may take an initial time investment to learn about the best approaches for your situation and a commitment to creating new habits, but getting organized can help you avoid last minute crunches and relieve stress.
- Reach out to your IT team to understand how to make the most of your current business productivity tools for reminders, tasks, etc. (e.g. Google Keep, Calendar, Email system, OneNote, etc.)
- For personal use, calendar and list apps that can be shared with family members can be real life savers.
- Consider using Action Plans, Weekly Planning or other strategies. See Other Organizational Strategies below for more.
- Remember, find tools that appeal and work for you. If it won’t make life easier, skip it.
Create a Contingency Plan
Plan for the unexpected disruptions that may pop-up when you are a caregiver or parent. Conduct a What if? Analysis.
- Brainstorm the types of disruptions that may come up: a sick child, a hired caregiver getting sick or quitting, school closure, a parent needing a ride to an urgent doctor’s appointment.
- Then brainstorm some options for an alternative or workaround.
- Document your contingency plans and any necessary contact information needed.
- Shore up your back-ups. Reach out to any potential back-up caregivers who can pitch in during a crisis.
Tip: Consider working on this as a joint activity with your partner, those with whom you share caregiving responsibilities, your support group or a friend.
Take Time for Yourself
Most caregiver resources talk about taking time for yourself and self-care. The Mind Tools team points out an important place that might easily be forgotten — personal goal setting. Caregivers can find themselves living in more of a survival mindset; living moment to moment and just trying to get by. Consider carving out an hour or two for bigger picture thinking to set longer-term goals for yourself, including work and your wider personal aspirations. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Enlist a friend or another caregiver friend for support.
- Aim to create 3-4 goals max. You may have some sub goals that support these larger goals, but avoid biting off more than you can chew.
- Write them down and consider posting them where they can inspire you.
- Do a gut check. Do you feel excited when you think about your goals, even if they make you a little nervous? Good. Avoid creating just another list of “shoulds”.
- Want extra credit? List a couple of daily, weekly or monthly activities that will support your new goal.
Take a Hard Look at What You Could Stop Doing
So while you have your good friend helping you with goal setting or contingency planning, you might also ask them for some “tough love.” Ask them to push you on areas where you may have blind spots about what you “should” be doing. Where are you not asking for help or not saying “no” to things that don’t deserve time on your schedule or to-do list? If you have the financial resources, can you “outsource” some of your personal responsibilities, like housekeeping, grocery deliveries, dry cleaning or meal preparation? Maybe this conflicts with a desire to (or belief that you should) provide home-cooked meals, for example. Consider if this tricky time for you and your family warrants another approach even if temporarily during a crisis period.
Other Organizational Strategies:
Sunday Weekly Planning. Consider creating a weekly habit to set aside a small amount of time on your weekend to plan for the week ahead and create a checklist.
- Some families also like to Meal Plan and Prep for the week ahead which can also support a healthy lifestyle.
- Consider meal planning and prepping with a friend (via Zoom) to make it more social and splitting the planning work.
- Start small, maybe just with breakfasts.
- Get the family involved. Maybe each member plans and preps one meal.
- Pinterest and Google can help you find tons of tips and recipes. Here’s one site: How to Meal Prep for the Week (tips to get started)
Action Plans for projects can help you plan, prioritize and delegate. Tie this to your To Do List to keep you on track.
- Step 1: Define your end goal.
- Step 2: List down the steps to be followed.
- Step 3: Prioritize tasks and add deadlines.
- Step 4: Set Milestones (and calendar them.)
- Step 5: Identify the resources needed.
- Step 6: Visualize your action plan.
- Step 7: Monitor, evaluate and update.