Caregiver Relationships

How To Have A Happy Holiday As A Sandwiched Homemaker

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As a caregiver, the holidays often feel like just another source of stress and worry. This doesn’t have to be the case! Find out how to have a happy holiday as a caregiver.

When you are a sandwiched homemaker, so much of your life is devoted to the care of others. You can easily begin to feel like the joy and happiness others experience so easily (at least from where we sit) will never be yours. This is especially felt during the holidays.

Adding an aging parent’s needs and temperament to your already daunting list of holiday to-do’s makes a happy holiday seem next to impossible.

6 ways to have a happy holiday season with elderly parents

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Acknowledge your boundaries

The first step toward a happy holiday is getting your mind in the right place. Decide what you want the holiday to look like and then make your plans according to the abilities of your family.

There are several things you need to consider before making your sandwiched holiday plans.

  • What are my parent’s physical abilities?
    Answering honestly about their ability to sit in a car for long periods will decide what traveling you are able to do.
  • What are my parent’s emotional needs?
    If your parent gets overwhelmed easily, you might consider hosting family in your home so your parent has a safe place to retire to when festivities get overwhelming.
  • How am I going to include everyone?
    In order to maintain balance with your kids and aging parent, decide on activities that can easily be multigenerational. Decorating the house, baking holiday treats, countdowns, and holiday movies can be enjoyed by everyone.

Keep Things Simple

One of the most obvious but yet so hard way of having a happy holiday as a caregiver is to just keep things simple and uncomplicated. This takes a surprising amount of planning and preparation.

The best way I have found to keep things simple is by making lists and actually adding my holiday plans and traditions to my schedule.

Another area of simplicity is decorating your home. Lovers of the holiday season, like myself, have a great desire to turn our homes into wonderlands.

For caregivers, this isn’t always an option. My MIL gets very overwhelmed with change as well as overabundance.

I’ve learned in the last few years to embrace a minimalist mindset in my decorating. My MIL’s room is kept the same at all times. This gives her a safe space that she can return to when the rest of the world and our home get wrapped up in the chaos of the holidays.

Related Post: Establishing Your Role as A Caregiver

Let People Know Ahead of Time About Your Needs

My family knows that travel is not a possibility for us during the holidays. They are aware that festivities will take place in our home. We let potential visitors know to call ahead and schedule any visits they may want to have with my MIL. For any gatherings we may have, we coordinate menus to delegate who brings what food so it doesn’t all fall on my shoulders.

Additionally, we reassure our extended family that we don’t expect them to be here on any particular day. My MIL’s Dementia primarily affects her short-term memory. The reassurance that she spent a fantastic holiday with her family makes the actual day irrelevant.

Related Post: Why Do Caregivers Have Difficulties with Friendships

Include but Don’t Overwhelm

Decide what parts of your holidays are most important for your parent to participate in. Make intentional efforts to be certain to include them on those parts and then don’t sweat the rest. Asking yourself what would they be sorry to learn they missed will help you determine when they should be involved.

Also, bear in mind that just because you know they used to enjoy it doesn’t mean they would feel the same way now. For each activity also plan a recovery time.

Just like your kids, they may say they want to do it all but when the time comes, they will appreciate (whether they say it or not) you using your best judgement.

Gifts To and From Everyone

As you are shopping, make sure you pick up gifts your parent can give to others. My MIL gives each of her kids a Christmas allowance to buy gifts from her.

The first Christmas we did this, I just added the money to my Christmas budget but didn’t specifically tag any particular gift to my kids with my MIL’s name.

This was a mistake.

My MIL was very concerned because I couldn’t tell her which gift came from her. In her mind, that meant she didn’t get my children anything. As someone who expresses love through giving, this was devastating to her. Now, I make sure that I purchase gifts to my kids with my MIL in mind and put her name on it.

Additionally, giving her things that she will enjoy is also very important. Oftentimes we think our parent doesn’t really need anything or even want anything anymore.

This just isn’t true. Everyone enjoys the special feeling of receiving a gift from someone they love.

Related Post: 7 No-Fail Gift Ideas for Someone with Dementia

Create Traditions in the Home

Finally, keep the bulk of your holiday traditions at home. It’s a mistake to believe we have to go somewhere to make something meaningful. Some of my favorite holiday traditions are the ones created in our home.

  • Create meal traditions. Eat a meal by candlelight with fun holiday music. Have a themed gathering like a Christmas Eve Mexican Fiesta or After Thanksgiving Soup Day.
  • Decorating the home. Make it an event for the whole family.
  • Start a 12-days of holiday reading tradition. Read a new book for 12 days leading up to or after your favorite holiday.
  • Elf on the Shelf. I know this can easily become the bane of any mom’s holiday but it is so much fun. My MIL even enjoyed finding the elf and seeing what mischief she got into each day.
  • Baking. One of our favorite traditions is baking a new treat every week in December.
  • Holiday movies. The week before Christmas, watch a different holiday movie every evening as a family.
  • Have wrapping parties. This is a great way for you to spend some one-on-one quality time with your kids and your parent. Let them choose a paper and help them wrap their gifts. It’s also a great way to emphasis the importance of giving rather than receiving.

A happy holiday is all about mindset. You can have all the time and money in the world and still be miserable.

Your holiday may not be easy.

You may not be able to do everything you wish you could do and your holiday certainly won’t look like everyone else’s. Deciding now what is important to you during the holiday season and making a plan will go a long way in you having a happy holiday as a caregiver.

Did you like this post? How do you make your holiday season happy in your multigenerational home? Let me know in the comments below!

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