How to be a perfect Caregiver
Spoiler alert. There is no such thing as a perfect caregiver, sorry. This is not a how-to guide to be a perfect caregiver. Instead, this is a wake-up call for all Caregiver Warriors. We must stop setting ourselves up for failure. We set ourselves up for failure by trying to be perfect and when we do that all hell breaks loose.
I wanted to be the perfect caregiver!
When I began my Caregiver journey I was gung-ho in my usual type A personality mindset. I was going to jump right in and save the day in my own personal Wonder Woman style. No matter that I wasn’t as young or as cute as the movie star! I was ready to do battle in my new role and fix my parents. I brought to this experience the usual high bar of expectation I always have for myself. I was going to learn everything I needed to know about caregiving and be the greatest caregiver of all time.
My perfectionism was a major liability.
As reality set in and I began to fulfill my role as my parents’ caregiver I became overwhelmed and freaked out. Managing their medical, physical, emotional and financial needs presented multiple challenges and my learning curve was huge. My energy drained quickly because of the pace I was trying to keep and I was headed for Caregiver Warrior burnout almost out of the box. As I desperately looked around for answers and help with my new role I realized I needed to re-think my role, my expectations, and my limits if I wanted to survive. My perfectionism was a major liability. Trying to do it all perfectly was piling stress on top of stress and was making everything more difficult.
I began looking for ways to ease up on the unrealistic expectations I had for myself. Being perfect wasn’t possible and by applying some of the following tactics, I became more comfortable with who I was and how I was handling things.
1. Get in, get done, get out.
There is a wonderful saying about perfectionism and the problems it can create. Perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis. When we feel we constantly have to do something perfectly all the time we can put things off and be afraid to move forward. I found if I followed the rule of get in, get done, get out by starting on the task in front of me, doing it to the best of my ability then moving on without second guessing myself about how well I had performed the task I didn’t have time to judge myself. Do it and let go of it. Take the actions and let go of the results.
2. Let go of expectations.
I can set such a high bar of expectation for myself thinking I have to be the absolute best at everything I do. That’s simply not possible. I’m human. I can’t be perfect. Nobody is really watching me as much as I think they are and what they think of me is none of my business! It’s always so much better when I throw the expectations out the window, and just do the best I can.
3. Forgive yourself
I can be my own worst enemy. When I do make mistakes nobody needs to bring them to my attention or reprimand me about them. I am always willing to beat myself up about anything that doesn’t go perfectly. I have to stop the critic in my head and be kind to myself. I make mistakes because I’m human. I forgive others when they are human and unintentionally make mistakes. Why not be as kind and forgiving of myself as I am to everyone else? A gentle reminder that I am doing the best I can with all the right intentions helps ease the self-criticism.
So instead of trying to be the perfect caregiver, I need to be the loving, caring person I am, doing my personal best. I am enough, I do enough, I have enough. I have suited up and shown up and as they say, showing up is more than half the battle. If you are feeling the need to be perfect, do yourself and everyone around you a huge favor, stop it! You are a star just the way you are, your best is better than good enough and because you are caring for others you are an angel walking on earth. Now that’s perfection!