Last Monday, we talked about learning to say “No,” but there’s more to protecting time for the activities (or non-activities) that generate joy for you. Whether it’s time to exercise, learn a new skill, connect with people who support your energy, meditate, sleep, or just stare at the walls, you deserve it. You owe it to yourself not to let ANYTHING, or ANYBODY interfere with the time you reserve for you. I call it “Arsenic Time.” You are so serious about protecting that time; it’s as if you’ve said, “If you talk to me during the time I’ve set aside for myself, I’ll POISON you!” (-:
For example, when I was still in medical practice, one of my Arsenic Times was when I first came home from work. I needed fifteen minutes to transform Dr. Woodson into “Mom,” and I’d sit in my room and read. Often, when I opened the door, my husband, children, and the cat were lined up waiting for me, but they knew not to knock on that door unless somebody was unconscious, or bleeding. That little bit of transition time made the evening go much better for EVERYBODY.
Plan coverage for your caregiving responsibilities even for short periods of time, but do it on a regular basis. It needs to be a break that you look forward to, not something you do only when you’re about to break. You can schedule a couple of hours from community care programs, family, or friends, or adult day services. Another strategy is to put your feet up, or do something for yourself instead of always doing laundry the minute your loved one takes a nap.
Computers and Internet access are really coming down in price, and this is a great way for your family to chip in for a birthday, or Christmas gift. If you’re a technocripple, like me, get your grandchildren, or some other high school student to help you get online. This way, you can bring the world to you: a class, book club, support group, games, movies, etc.
If you carve out the time and plan coverage, no one will suffer while you work on your quilt, write your poem, take a bubble bath, or do whatever gives you joy. You can’t continue to pour out energy if you never fill up. You deserve time to recharge; don’t let anyone take it from you.