In 1998, my mother Bonnie was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Here’s Sona’s 5 tips on how she endured this difficult time. (more…)
My healthy me time takes place first thing in the morning usually before 5:30 am…I often sneak out of the house when all (except Shadow) are still fast asleep. I find it’s easier to just get up and go before the day really begins for others. I love the saying ‘seize the day before the day seizes you’.
Because I’m up and out early to head to the gym, I need portable breakfast options that I can either prep on Sundays for the entire work week or gather together the night before. Here are a few of my tried and true breakfast options. (more…)
In a recent post, I shared that instead of showering our kids with holiday gifts, the past few years we have been investing in travel and enjoying the dividends in the form of lasting memories. Read more about this family philosophy here if you missed the Traveling for Memories post as it will give you some background on why we do this and how we go about selecting a location.
Over the kid’s fall break (which is earlier than most places since we start school the first week of August) we went to Ireland. We purchased the 6 night package last winter from Travel Zoo. The package included round trip flights from Atlanta to Dublin, one night in a hotel, 5 nights of bed & breakfast vouchers, car rental, and a mobile Wi-Fi device (this little buddy is a MUST have on your trip as it works in cars, pubs, B&B, etc.!). My 15 year old daughter, Natalie, planned the general route we took and listed out the towns and attractions she thought looked interesting. In her style, the itinerary was an over achievement but we knew that going into the trip. We just liked having the list of options at our fingertips. I used a web tool called Trello that also has an app and organized a list for each day with a card on the list for the details about each option, who recommended it, and any special notes. I included a few tips that I got from Instagram and Pinterest searches, as well. Once we knew the general route, I selected the bed & breakfasts based on TripAdvisor reviews about a month beforehand. (more…)
A guest post written by Jen Robinson, Lifewrangling blog
As parents we are always looking for ways to give our children opportunities. We sign them up for sport, music, scouts, things that enable them to develop their talents and find enjoyment in learning new skills, working as a team and achieving their goals. We realize the importance of this for our children. Why then do we find it so difficult to understand the importance of these things for ourselves? We often believe that we don’t have the time and stop doing those things that are good for our physical and mental health including healthy eating, exercise routines and hobbies.
It doesn’t have to be that way though and with a little bit of planning these important activities can return into our lives. (more…)
Early in our marriage, may be even before we were married, Jason and I had agreed that we would always use some of our time off to have our own vacation. Coming from a big family, there are always events and family reunions to attend but it was important to us that we set aside focused family time together each year. Before our children were part of our lives, we took some special trips to New York City, California and Grand Cayman. Not to mention our honeymoon in Bermuda.
Traveling with young children
Once we had our children our vacations primarily centered on trips to visit family. Every summer, we have been to our family cabin in Hubbard Lake, Michigan and there have been several visits to Florida, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, and Washington D.C. areas to see my parents and our siblings. One exception to the normal trips is when we jumped on an opportunity when Natalie was 10 months old to go see my sister Susie and her family in Botley, England. Her husband Dave was there for a 2 year assignment and it was Susie’s 40th birthday and we were missing their 4 kids since they had moved away. They had been in England long enough to show us all the local sites they loved. Susie kept Natalie one day when we visited so Jason and I could take the train into London for a day on our own.
Our first big international trip as a family was BIG! In June 2007, the four of us went to Bali, Indonesia. (more…)
A guest post by Elizabeth Hubbard
There is a truism about me: the only thing I’ve ever been able to quit cold turkey is exercise. Elizabeth of Happy Healthy Caregiver would find that unacceptable and, as much as it pains me to admit it, she’s right.
With a husband, three children and a mother that depends on me, by not taking proper care of myself, I’m making things more difficult. When I’m not taking care of myself, I’m weighed down with guilt and embarrassment. I’m also frequently in a less-than-fabulous mood, which means I’m bringing down everyone around me. That’s why I cooked up the following experiment: exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days in an effort to make exercise a habit. (more…)
Growing up, I never pictured myself as a working mom. I knew I would work before having kids but figured I’d be a stay home mom, just like my mom was for us. I know my husband may feel somewhat responsible for me not being a stay home mom but frankly he’s not the reason I am still working.
What is a sequencing mom?
A “sequencing” mom typically earns a college degree, starts a career, and decides to take a planned break
from the workforce in order to raise young children and then returns to their careers years later. (more…)
If you give a bird a worm
Since it’s difficult to describe a sandwiched life, I thought I’d try an analogy. I often tell people that life is like a puzzle and you just have to figure out how all the pieces connect but reflecting on this now, this analogy is just way too simple. After all, when you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle you have the luxury of evaluating one piece at a time. What I feel, and probably many of you do, is the constant pulling of different important and competing priorities that frankly are never satiated. A better analogy for a mom in the sandwich generation is to think of a nest of hungry baby robins with mom flying back and forth to keep everyone well fed. (more…)
My kids are already in their 2nd week of the school year! I know, my Northern friends, we folks in Georgia start early! Please note that we do end our school year earlier than most. My kids are usually out of school before Memorial Day. Not sure why our nation has to shift our school year based on the region of the country we live in. It just is what it is.
Time for personal goal setting and reflection
In my eBook, The Savvy Sandwicher’s Survival Guide: How to care for YOUR health while caring for others (now available to my community members), I have a chapter where I dive into dreaming big and setting personal goals. I call this chapter ‘Be a goal digger’! In this chapter, I share one idea that works for me which is to revisit personal goals when my kids return to school. Most Americans set goals as part of their New Year’s Resolutions. I used to, too. However, I found that once I got past New Year’s Eve and Day, I was in a post-holiday fog. I had just emerged out of a crazed compacted time period where I was indulging more and moving less and frankly just wanted to get my Christmas decorations packed up. After the holiday festivities, I just need to catch my breath. I want to get back on track with my life but I don’t want to necessarily lay down new tracks!
When back to school season rolls around, my entire family is switching up routines and schedules. So…it makes sense to find the pockets of time where I’m going to insert my healthy me time. Quiet personal reflection time also tends to be more of an option while the kids are at school. I suggest using ‘My Big Dreams’ worksheet included as a resource in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community to get your dreams flowing. In my ebook, which is also in the community, I share a few of my big dreams and also share my ’50 before 50 list’. The ‘Big Dreams’ worksheet gets you to brainstorm around the four areas in the image below.
A simple self-assessment
So what does your current state of self-care look like? My sister sent this tool to me recently. It’s called the Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire and she found it on the PBS’s Caring for Your Parents webpage. It’s a great tool to incorporate into your back to school reflection because it helps you evaluate if you are taking care of yourself – the caregiver. I took the quiz and my ‘yes’ score totaled to ‘8’ which was on the fringe of a being in a high degree of distress. Yikes! I’m lucky that my answers to the questions about sleep and physical health are positive. I gave myself a ‘7’ on current level of stress (1 is the lease amount of stress) but I feel like I could give this question a different score each week – sometimes each day! I definitely don’t feel like I’m a ‘7’ consistently. Right now, there is a lot of juggling of tasks and activities going on. I just feel tired of the pace and often crave just being still. Not to mention that the past few weeks I’ve been off my routine with vacation, the one year anniversary of my dad’s death, mom’s hospitalization (she’s home now!) and my kid’s starting a new school year. For the overall health question, I gave myself a ‘4’ (again, 1 is the best score). I’m definitely focused on overall improvements and have formed some great healthy habits over the past year. I’m truly proud of what I have accomplished amidst so much crazy.
I love how this PBS quiz gives you specific action items you can take if your score falls within the high degree of ‘distress’ category. By all means, if you haven’t seen your doctor in over a year, finish reading this blog post and make your appointment. Identifying areas where you can ask for relief is another great next step. Seeking support from others via a group may also provide a healthy outlet. I certainly hope you are finding some relief and encouragement from my blog and social media accounts. I know I find comfort and support by just knowing I’m not the only person in the world feeling the squeeze based on caregiving responsibilities. I also love that PBS and other respected organizations are promoting the importance of self-care and giving us permission to not feel guilty about caring for ourselves.
It’s as easy as 1…2…3!
Since I’m the teacher sharing knowledge, I want to end this post with some specific homework so that you can apply what you have learned:
- Decide when you are going to do your annual goal review and planning. Schedule this session on your digital calendar.
- Write down 1-3 personal goals for the current month. Schedule a monthly goal review session on your digital calendar.
- Write down your 1-2 personal goals for the current week. Block out time on your calendar for the activities related to your goal.
Once you complete these steps, I have no doubt you’ll be able to raise your Personal Development grade up to an A+ and I look forward to celebrating your success!
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”
– Jim Rohn
August 4th was the one year anniversary of my dad’s death. Rather than focusing on his last day, I am choosing to focus this post on the Saturday just prior to his passing, where we threw a party in the hospice room to celebrate his life. When I reflect on this memory, I feel so grateful that we had this opportunity to tell dad how much he meant to us, share memories, and prepare as a family to say good-bye. I know that many families have not had this opportunity.