The job of a caregiver is never done. Depending on the needs of each unique situation, there may be meals to plan and prepare, tube feedings to do, hygiene supports to provide, toileting and bowel routines to perform, supplies to restock, behaviors to decipher and manage, sleep schedules to implement (and hope the best for!), seizures to monitor, entertainment to arrange, community supports to coordinate, social needs to meet, legal matters to tend, school forms to update (constantly), medical appointments to navigate, medical insurance calls to make, IEPs and assessments to review, safety to ensure and general advocacy to maintain. There is laundry, housekeeping, more laundry and more housekeeping. Add to that matters of self care, soul care and other care. All of this in addition to the usual maintenance of a home, family and job.
Are you breathless with me?
Truly, it takes a community with a fierce divide-and-conquer commitment to each other to maintain the wellbeing of the whole family and its systems. But cultivating and nurturing that community is another project in itself!
Thankfully, some people are “wired” for projects. They actually get energized by putting things in order, finding efficiencies, coordinating team members and checking the lists.
If this describes you, let me just say how admired and valuable you are. I am sure those around you appreciate your essential contributions to caregiving. And I hope they express that to you in satisfying abundance!
Of course, not everybody is given the same temperament or giftings. We all have unique degrees of need for organizing the kitchen junk drawer. Some people will find deep satisfaction in throwing themselves into a project. But if that is not you, rest assured there is something equally valuable about what you have to offer. Your caregiving team is like a body — with many parts, all valuable (1 Corinthians 12:14-27). The person who needs extra care is a valued part of the team too.
The people we care for are definitely not our projects. But the responsibilities involved with caring for them can be right up the alley for people who appreciate having step-by-step processes to work out.
If you are one of those people in your family who tends to enjoy some task-oriented responsibilities, here are some guiding scriptures, tips and a prayer for you.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
TAP YOUR CAREGIVING STRENGTHS
If you’re energized by task-oriented activities….
- Serve your family and caregiving team by identifying efficient and caring ways to be involved
- Consider being the point person on scheduling
- Delegate relationally demanding aspects of caregiving so that each person on the care team can experience satisfying balance between tasks and people
- Monitor and maintain lists and records (e.g., emergency contacts, nutritional priorities, finances, healthcare, IEP, social security and/or disability benefits, guardianship, scriptures on disability theology)
- Create a daily checklist of essential caregiving activities that keep team members focused and motivated (get input from others about a format that will work for them)
- Have quiet time every day to organize your thoughts
- Be sensitive about making others feel like they are one of your projects
- Learn to rely on Jesus for discernment about priorities and what tasks to release
Lord Jesus, thank you for creating me with a unique and important capacity for getting things done. Help me to know when and how to be involved with the tasks of caregiving in my family. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, to be a humble, strong and cheerful contributor to the caregiving team. Sometimes you call me to do things that feel beyond my ability. In those times, and at all times, teach me to rely on You. AMEN
Lisa Jamieson is a caregiver consultant, pastoral counsellor and author of popular books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns and Jesus, Let’s Talk. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Together, the Jamiesons founded Walk Right In Ministries in 2008, a non-profit organization building faith and community with special needs families. Lisa is the primary contributor on the www.WalkRightIn.org blog sharing practical and spiritual encouragement for parents and other family members caring for children with health and developmental challenges. Her personal blog www.lisajamieson.org also provides encouragement for people who find themselves in challenging places.