Being a caregiver can quickly become overwhelming. In fact, if an emergency situation arises and you don’t have a sudden sense of being overwhelmed, I’d like to know your secret. I have learned over the years that if I want that feeling to calm down, I’ve got to get it under control. In order for that to happen, I need to ask myself a few questions. Why am I overwhelmed in the first place? What is it that makes this situation overwhelming? And how can I bring that feeling under control?
I’m often overwhelmed when I have too much on my plate. I’m afraid I’m going to forget one of the numerous details I am required to keep track of. My mind starts spinning and I don’t know where to begin as every detail jumps out as being a priority. I’m frozen and unable to take any action for lack of focus. Does this ever happen to you?
I want to avoid getting to that point for the rest of my life. I know that I need to write things down in an organized fashion if I’m going to avoid freezing up. So, today we’re going to look at a few ways to get organized.
I’ve tried using a marker board wall calendar to keep track of everyone in the house’s appointments and schedules. Each family member gets a different color and that seems to work pretty well. When people are working different schedules or going to school or ball practice or doctor’s appointments, this really keeps the family aware of each others events. Mine is hanging in the kitchen in a place where everyone can see it.
Some people have used regular wall calendars for the same thing and if that works for you, great! Keep it up. I write too big and there isn’t enough space in those little squares for everything I want to put on a day. I also have several people in my family. If there were only two of us, that might work really well for us, but five people’s activities for the day on an inch and a half square is too congested for me.
There are planners out there too that many people like to use. These give you spaces for monthly and daily lists of things to get done and can be very helpful. There are often places for phone numbers in these planners and they might be perfect for your style. You can get these almost anywhere too and if it’s after February or March, they are likely quite reduced. Some planners can be reused with refillable pages, which is a great deal at the end of the year.
Electronic calendars, like Google Calendar, are wonderful especially if you can link it up to your phone calendar. The thing I like about this option is that you can share calendars with your spouse and kids or anyone. When you key in a new event on your phone, you can choose to share that event on different calendars so it shows up on the other person’s phone as well. If you have a spouse who just doesn’t remember the doctor’s appointments or when it’s his turn to pick up the kids after school, this might help you keep your whole tribe organized.
Doctor, Hospital and Medical trips
I started out with a spiral notebook and a pen when my husband went into the hospital. I learned to keep track of everything from his medications to his blood draws, to his tests. I kept track of the doctors and nurses who were on call each day, his vital signs, what he ate, etc. When I was trained on a new procedure, I took notes in that notebook. When I was given the results of blood work or a test or procedure that he went through, I wrote it down in the notebook. It was because of this notebook and my attention to detail that I discovered an inconsistency in what I was being told. By pointing that out, the doctors discovered the problem more quickly and he was able to get the care he needed.
Now might be a good time to update your list of emergency contact numbers. The babysitter, pet sitter, pastor, yours and your spouses work numbers, kids, parents, friends, pharmacy, doctors, etc. This list is invaluable. Whether you keep them written down somewhere or have them in your smart phone, just make sure they are up to date and handy. I had mine in the notebook and in my phone as well.
For Everything in One Place
I recommend a bullet journal. You can buy one that’s pre-made, or you can make your own fairly simply. I’ve recently learned how to keep a bullet journal and it’s made a huge difference. I wish I would have had this before. In fact, I think I could have just put everything in one bullet journal and been done with it. It’s a great place to put your daily, weekly, monthly activities and goals as well as notes and everything we’ve talked about in this post. Every little piece of information you want to keep track of goes into this journal in an organized fashion and once you learn the way to organize it, you’ll not lose anything of importance.
Trust the System
So, we’ve discussed ways to organize the thoughts scrambling for attention in your brain and you know how to keep track of all the appointments, the test results, the procedures, the phone numbers and any other details that you don’t want to forget. You’ve built a system that works for you. Now, just use the system. And, trust the system that you’ve built. I understand that may be difficult if you’ve never done this before, but I believe that developing a system and establishing a routine for handling information relieves an enormous load off of your mind. It allows your brain to be less overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done. You’ve already written it down and created the plan. Anytime something else comes to mind, add it to your system and let it go. Worry about today. Let tomorrow’s worries rest in your system to worry about tomorrow.