Aging Parents: Sooo Much to Do–Too Little Time-Holiday Organization

Wrapping Christmas Gifts

Juggling everything on a normal day, with over-busy, over-programmed schedules, is hard enough at this time of year–whether we’re children of aging parents, caregivers or Sandwich Generation. Do we feel like we have ADD?

DISORGANIZATION, FRAZZLED NERVES–worsened by the unexpected glitch. And can’t we count on that! There’s an old saying “I’m dancing as fast as I can.” Taking that a step further: when we try to dance faster than we can, don’t we wear out or lose our balance? So how do we stay balanced?

9 Strategies that work 

Re: Making lists–works for some (once on paper, anxiety ends); not for me if the list is long.  A long list of to-do’s overwhelms: a stomach can go into knots just looking at it. I do have a mental list, but don’t write it down at the beginning. I know if I look at it I’ll become immobilized for a time…probably want to cry…which may help some, but again not me. (My eyes get red and puffy and I’m out of action until I look normal again.) 
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1. Get rid of visible messes at home. Their sight compounds the stress and confusion. Thoughts get scattered, surrounded by and knowing there are: unmade beds, messy kitchen, stuff strewn around. (Forget children’s rooms). And with too much to do, it’s easy to leave beds unmade, add to an already-begun pile of stuff to put away later etc., etc.

2. Get help doing the above. Don’t waste your time.  “I need your help” is the important phrase that psychologically pulls people into your web and gets results. Enlist children, any able-bodied person (husband/wife/other) in the house to help.  A noted researcher in the 1970’s when divorce was escalating, advised single-parent-frazzled mothers: “Even an 8-year-old can vacuum.”

3. Think about the time of day you are more efficient and energetic. I know the middle of the day isn’t best for me. I have tremendous energy in the morning and then a short burst later at night. At night, however, I don’t have patience for detail things, so at this time of year the “no-brainer” kinds of things–like wrapping presents–are perfect.

4. Everything needn’t be done this minute. Accomplish a few of the easy-to-do things that are mixed with all the other must-do’s that cause anxiety. Find the easiest time-sensitive one, and accomplish it. Reward: a psychological pick-up.

5. Try to identify a few more easy ones; get at least one of those out-of-the-way, you’ll feel better. Then attack and accomplish one of the more difficult or time-consuming anxiety-producers. Reward yourself. Take a break. Eat chocolate, take a short nap, watch TV, go for a walk–you get the idea.

6. NOW MAKE THE LIST, prioritizing what remains. Fit “remains” into time available in the days that are left, using the above model.

7. Next think about what can reasonably be done, how others can help, thus saving  you time and/or stress. We can get help with almost anything these days if we ask or can pay for it. Yet many of us don’t ask when we’re overwhelmed. We often think it takes too much time to have to explain. But if we’re asking a capable friend or family member, why do we hesitate? (Controllers: take note. This is hard.)

8. If necessary, delete the least important from the list…the one(s) where the world won’t come to an end if not taken care of now. Put it/them off or cancel.

9. Knowing the duration of the stress helps. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel provides relief.

When we’re less stressed those around us no doubt notice; indeed it’s probably a gift–as we do our best to help parents, grandparents and older friends age well.
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Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.

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