Step #4 – Overcoming Caregiver Burnout

If I had to be stranded on a desert island and could only pick one companion, I would choose my husband Alex. He’s intelligent, thoughtful, resourceful and a great conversationalist. As much as I enjoy his company, I would still need to find a corner on that island where I could have a little time to myself.

My mother needed her time alone at night after she got my dad put to bed. That’s when she read and relaxed. I am a morning person, and I like to get up early and write my Word of the Day. When I first started doing it, Alex complained that he couldn’t sleep once I got up. This is the process we went through:

1. I apologized and tried to be very quiet
2. I offered to turn on soothing music
3. I suggested he get up and do the exercises his physical therapist had prescribed
4. I told him he could take a nap in the afternoon if he couldn’t sleep without me
5. I decided I needed this time alone, that he was a grown man, and he could figure it out what to do if I wasn’t in bed with him after 6:00 a.m.
6. I now get up when I want to and when he asks what time we’ll have breakfast, I tell him, “As soon as I finish writing my Word.”

It’s been an interesting transition, and although it took a bit of adjustment, my “alone” time is now a part of our daily routine.

If you need time alone or time away, it’s up to you to claim it. Your loved ones may resist it for a while, but once you decide it’s not up to you to make it okay for them, you will be in a position to do what you need to do for yourself.