How do you make time for family time?
When caring for an elderly parent living with you, family time might increasingly center around responsibility and less on enjoyment.
You might also experience guilt when you want to spend time with your partner or children without your parent.
When a loved one you care for moves in, your family is bound to experience changes, including in how you interact. And often, guilt also becomes the newest member of your family.
Guilt is deceptive and detracts from the moments you do spend with your children and spouse. More than that, it can trick you into believing that you are a terrible person for wanting family time without your parent.
It’s important to remember that family caregiving is like your career: time away from it helps maintain healthy relationships with the whole family.
It’s possible to have family time while your loved one also lives with you. Here are some ideas to help.
Map out each day
First, take a look at your week. Write down how much time you spend with each member of your family and your loved one each day. Include how much time you spend together as a whole.
Maybe you feel as if one of your children isn’t getting enough time with you. Or perhaps it’s your spouse. By breaking down the time you spend every day, you may realize that you spend more time with each person than you initially thought.
Focus on the moment
As you create your plan, make sure to include time for simple things pursuits such as reading or crafting and events like going to the movies. No matter if you spend five minutes or the whole evening together, focus on the bond and meaningfulness of the activity. For example, if driving your child to school, you can use the car ride to connect.
Concentrate on the important aspects and release negative feelings like worry or guilt. Mindfulness can help you prioritize the current moment and make the most of family time that when it happens organically throughout the day.
Empower your family
Allow your children and partner to pick how you spend family time together each week. Your son might choose to get ice cream with just you and your spouse one week, your daughter might like a coffee date, and your parent might want an hour just to visit.
Empowering your family with choices will help alleviate feelings of guilt because you’ll know each activity is meaningful to everyone.
Involve your family
Family caregiving shouldn’t fall on you alone, especially if your parent lives with you. Specify a time of day for your children and partner to spend family time with your loved one. Whether it’s ten minutes or an hour, your parent will love the chance to bond with each member of your family.
Similarly, keep your family time plan posted in a visible place where everyone can see it. It might feel like you’re scheduling appointments, but it will make organizing your week and quality time a much simpler process.
Plan a family meeting at least once a week and make sure to involve your parent when necessary. During this time, everyone can share their schedule and help you plan yours, so you don’t have to do it alone. Plus, getting everyone involved will feel more inclusive and ease those guilty feelings even more.
Create a reply when you’re away from your parent
It’s possible to tell your parent you’re spending family time without them without sounding like you don’t want them around. You could say something along the lines of, “I’m going to see a movie with Bob and the kids later, Mom. Sarah will be home to make dinner, watch your favorite video, and get your ready for bed.
“I’m looking forward to spending time with you tomorrow and talk about each clothes’ night! Thanks a bunch for your love and support.”
Learn to let things go
While creating a weekly schedule as a family can go a long way to help, there might be weeks where not everyone is satisfied with it. For example, your spouse or parent may complain that you don’t spend enough time together.
When you try to accommodate everyone’s needs, negative comments can be frustrating to hear. The key is to let each person respond in their own way, listen, offer your point of view, and then move on or change the calendar.
Your family’s feedback won’t always be constructive. Learning how not to take it personally will prevent you from becoming manipulated.
Share memories with everyone
When you go to an event or an outing, take pictures to share with family members who weren’t there. During your weekly meeting, let each person talk about your weekly activity with everyone else.
In the same vein, brainstorm ideas as a family for activities you can do at home. Whether it’s a movie night, game night, or something else, planning an event to do at home can strengthen your relationship and create even more meaningful family time.
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Spending family time outside the home can be challenging if your parent or loved one requires specialized care. When you need an afternoon or evening out of the house, get peace of mind with a qualified in-home caregiver.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help! Contact us online or call 1-888-541-1136.
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- Brown, Denise. “How to Spend Time with Your Family While You Care for (and Live With) a Family Member.” Spending Time with Your Family While You Care for a Live-In Family Member, www.parentgiving.com/elder-care/spend-time-family-care-for-live-with-family-member/.How To Have More Family Time When Your Aging Loved One Lives With You