Episode 87: Ways for Caregivers to Enjoy the Holidays
A big problem most of us caregivers have is feeling lonely. There are always times of the year when the people we know start to go on trips or have celebrations that we just can’t make it to. We catch those moments as they post them on social media or tell us about it and it hurts doesn’t it. It makes it feel as if the world, our friends and family have moved on and left us behind.
Let’s talk about making our own fun and connecting with people we love.
Caregiving is an extremely difficult role to take on and loneliness can be a major problem if we feel that we aren’t seen. That’s why when people are giving you the highlight real of their life it makes you angry, frustrated with your situation and sad. It makes you jealous and leads you to making the mistake of comparing your life with theirs. It makes you feel that caregiving style of loneliness that really hurts deep down.
Some of us may be waiting to be invited to the fun. Others are wanting to make some fun but don’t know how and don’t have the energy to figure things out.
If you are a caregiver for someone who can’t leave the house, can’t be around groups of people or leaving the house is just too difficult even if you wanted to it is easy to feel left out. Just because celebrations have to be done differently right now doesn’t mean you have to give up on the fun.
Thing is… you can’t wait around to be invited. If you can’t go to where people are celebrating because traveling is out of the question or the person you care for can’t really leave the house you have to find ways to still be part of their lives. Unfortunately you will have to do some of the work because , just like you, they might not know how to do things differently either.
I’m going to give you a list of things you can try to do and once you hear the one thing that really sticks out to you I want you to call the person you want to do it with or can help you organize it. It’s going to feel like more work than you’d like to give but I promise you even it is worth it. Laughing, having fun, talking to people who care for your is worth it. Just let them know that you’d really like to have them be a part of your life and miss doing things with them. It’s ok for it to feel vulnerable. It’s ok to worry they’ll say no. But you won’t know until you try.
Everything listed in this podcast is put together for you as a PDF download on the website. You can go to www.loveyourcaregivinglife.com find the podcast link and click on episode 87. There you will find the PDF with more information and suggestions for each of the ideas I’m going to tell you about today. It’s the perfect thing to download and send to the people you want to set something up with so they can read it through as well. So don’t forget to go and download it for free from the website. If you are on my mailing list you will get it in the November 18th newsletter.
Ok on to how you can enjoy celebrations even if you can’t leave the house.
One of the things I like doing the most is cook with people I love. Being able to tell stories, laugh and sing with people you care about can feed you more than the food you’re making. It can make you feel sad if you can’t do that and you may feel like it isn’t even worth making that dish you love making so much. Just because you can’t be together doesn’t mean you can’t continue to have that experience. Invite those people into your home via Zoom or a video call. You all can cook something together in your own kitchens and catch up on how things are going, still tell those stories, sing those songs and laugh. You can all make the same thing or something different. If you live in the same city you could even do a swap and share with everyone else. It’s just about finding different ways to do the things you love doing.
You can watch a movie together. Maybe there is a holiday movie you love to watch with your sister but you can’t this year. Set up a movie date and watch it together. There are lots of ways you can do this. Sometimes the simplest is to get on a video call with the other person and set the camera so they can see your face. Then you try to press play at the same time. Being on camera might be weird for you because you don’t usually see your face while watching a movie but it’s just what that other person would see and they love you so try not to feel too self conscious about it. You can hide the part that shows your face and just focus on theirs. It can be as simple as sticking a piece of paper on the part of the screen that has your little square.
There are other ways to start the movie together. Some streaming services allow you to watch with someone else. That way the movie will start and stop at the same time. Some phone will also let you watch something together. Or you can both watch the movie on your own time and then make a date to sit down and talk about it, kind of like a book club. There are movie discussion topics in the pdf download. Who knows this might be something you do every month!
Make a playlist. If there are songs you love to listen to during the holidays sharing them with family and friends can be fun especially if they contribute to the list too. You all will start to see how similar your tastes are and also learn about songs you might not even know existed. There are a lot of different ways to do this. If you belong to a streaming service like Spotify you can share your playlist and those people can add to it. Or you can create a group text or email and everyone can start sharing their favorite songs. Is it someone’s birthday? See how many different birthday songs you all can find and put it together for them. It’s just a fun way to interact with people you love.
Get yourself invited to dinner. Sure you can’t physically be at that special meal everyone is going to be at but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a place at the table. Ask a person who will be there to set you up on a zoom or video call for the meal. Ask for them to set it up in a place you can see most of the table and join them while you eat your own meal. You’ll get to talk to everyone and hear all the updates and won’t have to help clean up the dishes. That’s can be a win!
Maybe there is someone in your group of loved ones that has a small child that you would really like to connect with but aren’t able to visit. Why not set up a time to read them a book. Maybe it’s a book that’s special for this time of the year or a book you really loved as a child. Make sure the length is appropriate for the Childs age and have a parent set up a time when they will be able to focus. Of course it might not work out the way you’d like it to. You might not make it past the first couple of pages or you might spend the entire time talking to them about their favorite toy. No matter what, you are creating memories with a little person you love and that is the most important thing to be able to do.
No matter if it’s paper or electronic everyone loves getting a letter especially now that no one really does it anymore. If there is someone you really miss seeing grab that box of tissues and a piece of paper. Write what you love about them. Share the things you loved doing with them or memories of holidays or celebrations the two of you have shared in the past. This could be the highlight of the year for them. It’s always so much fun to hear from another person but it can also make you feel good as you write it. Sometimes giving helps us feel better about our world than receiving and this might be one of those times.
Singing can be so cathartic especially when you’re doing it with a group of people who care for you. Maybe the person you love has a favorite song, maybe it’s someone’s birthday or there are holiday songs you and your family and friends would always sing. Just because you can’t do it in person doesn’t mean you give it up. You can get everyone on a zoom call and record it and then send it to the person you made it for. Or maybe you all just got together to simply enjoy singing.
One of the things my family does more often during holidays and celebrations is play games. Of course we can do it any time of the year but when we are taking a break from work and school we love playing a game together. Now just because you can’t be in person with someone to play doesn’t mean you have to give it up this year. There are a lot of games you can play over video call or zoom. Think of things that don’t require a board to play. You can play Pictionary or Bingo. Yahtzee or Tenzi will work too. There is a list of more game in the PDF download. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It might be comical when Aunt Sarah’s video freezes as she’s playing charades!
You can create a family holiday story. Over text or email one person starts the story with a short paragraph and then they send it off to the next person and so one. In the end the last person finishes it off and it can all be put together as a keepsake or just something to look at and laugh about. It’s a super simple way for people to connect and not have to do it at a specific time.
Do you always put together a puzzle during the holidays? Set up a date with the person who would always sit down to help you and get on a call with them. Putting together the puzzle was only half the fun anyway. It was really all about getting caught up with that cousin you only see once a year.
Are you part of a. Musical family? Plan a concert. Have everyone put together a song they can perform and get everyone on a zoom to watch and participate in the concert. Or everyone can record their song or their part of a song and send it off to a Google Drive that everyone can access. There are so many different ways to do this. You could all even practice the same song and get together on video to try to play it together. Sure sometimes there’s a lag but it’s about the fun of it.
You could also have a gift wrapping date with someone. Get on the phone and talk about things while both of you wrap gifts. Sometimes it’s fun to wrap and talk. You could also have a recipe swap. You know you always wanted the recipe for grandma’s rolls but never asked for it. Now all of you can share your favorite recipes or the recipes that have been with the family for generations and maybe you can make that one thing you really wanted to eat this year but didn’t think you’d be able to because you have to stay at home.
The thing to remember is:
You deserve to find ways to enjoy your life. Just because you’re a caregiver doesn’t meant you’re destined to never enjoy life again.
Things can be fun even though they are different. Traditions and rituals are grounding, they make you feel comfortable because sometimes it’s the way things are always done. Caregiving has taught you that sometimes you have to learn how to do things a different way so you already have the ability to figure out how to still celebrate even though it has to be done differently.
Remember, you are a caregiver because you love the person you care for. You are dedicating your life to helping them live. So enjoy the life you live with them as best you can.
Remember to download the PDF and get a few more tips and ideas for celebrations as well as more information for the ones’ I’ve told you about today.
You can find it at www.loveyourcaregivinglife.com
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