Given that it is carers week in Australia, I thought I would write something about taking time out for yourself.
I don’t think of myself as a carer. I’m a Mum foremost but there is no denying that at 18 years of age BJ would normally be more independent. I think if you love someone you just ‘do’ for them. Mother’s guilt means I never feel I do enough for either of my children but I certainly do my best. My most important role is that of being an advocate for BJ ensuring he has access to opportunities in life just like any other person. This can be exhausting and I definitely went through a period after the intensity of early intervention where I felt totally burnt out. Over time I think I have become better at taking some time out for myself.
I am extremely lucky that I have a husband that shares the load when he is not at work and I have parents that are an integral part of our day-to-day life. I still feel tired at times and my body definitely feels the strain of assisting BJ with transfers and walking.
Last week I used a voucher for a facial which was part of my birthday present from my parents. I love getting this gift because when I really need a pick me up, I use it.
There is something really uplifting about having someone take care of you and just spending an hour relaxing. When the treatment starts I find it hard to push the thoughts of what I should be doing out of my head. I mentally go through a list of jobs that need attention or phone calls that need to be made, worries about the future etc. When the beautician starts talking in her soothing tones and the soft music plays I find myself letting go of all of those thoughts. I’m then totally immersed in the lovely scents of moisturisers and cleansers that my skin so desperately craves. I feel myself nodding off and give in to the lovely feeling of warmth under the doona.
When the beauty therapist returns and gently touches my arm to let me know she is back in the room I ask her if I can stay all day. How nice would it be to stay in this state of limbo where jobs don’t matter and I can indulge in ‘me time’. I love the hot towel she uses at the end of the facial but I also know that it signals the end of this blissful experience. I feel like I am walking on clouds I’m so relaxed. My skin feels soft and smooth but then I check myself in the mirror. The hair net and head massage have really played havoc with my hair so although I feel wonderful, I look like Phyllis Diller. I open the door of the room and the brightness is sharp and abrasive to my relaxed state.
The bliss may have been over but I felt great for the rest of the day, especially after I dealt with my unruly hair.
Not everyone enjoys facials or can afford them. What I am suggesting is that you take some time out for yourself. This is something that helps everyone in the busy day-to-day life we all lead but definitely even more important for someone caring for a person or child with a disability. There are always many excuses why there is no time to do it but try to make the time.
Before I left for my facial I looked around the house and there was washing that needed putting away, cleaning that needed to be done and guess what, it was still there when I came home. It was done eventually and I’m sure I was quicker doing it after a bit of time out.
It doesn’t have to be a facial. Have coffee with a friend, read a magazine outside or go for a walk. Even try to book a night out with your husband. It IS hard to do, I know all too well, but make the effort and you will feel better for having done so.
It is a long road as a parent or carer of someone with a disability and you need to acknowledge yourself as being worthy of care too.