5 Ways to a Better Beginning


by Sue Collins

We are very predictably inundated this time of year with the latest diet trends, list of good and bad foods to eat, tips on losing 10 pounds in a week (yeah –right) and all the new 30 day challenges — push ups, abs, squats, butt lifts (!). And this year, to add one more wrinkle, we’ve also got the latest US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) new food pyramid to considerUnknown

As a caregiver the LAST thing you need or want is another challenge. Sometimes at the end of a long day of caregiving you are ready to sit and put your feet up or simply go to sleep. Sometimes the thought of doing it all over again the next day can bring about feelings of anxiety, apprehension, worry and fear. It can all feel overwhelming at times. But just as in the life of a parent, a little planning and preparation goes a long way in the life of a caregiver. For example, some parents, especially those of young children, prepare the night before their children go to school or daycare by setting out clothes, packing lunches, arranging for after school activities. Yes, not everyone is that well organized – but it doesn’t take much. Spending a few extra minutes before you prop up your feet or go to sleep can start your day a little easier.

Here are five ways to reset you routine:

  1. Set out all the medicines in a multiple pillbox or an empty egg carton that you’ve labeled with the times: morning; noon; evening; and bedtime. Note any medicines that are low and need refilling.

    Egg carton with medication times labeled on lid
  2. Throw some food in a crock pot and set the temp on low for a nutritious meal the next day. A stew of any kind – beans with a ham bone, beef and vegetables, a chicken and veg – all are quickly prepared and are also a good way to clean out the fridge.
  3. Be sure items used for personal care — bathing, shaving, hair and mouth are in the location in which they are used for thing in the morning.
  1. Prepare for any scheduled outings, doctors office, treatment center or just a drive in the car
  2. Give family members updates via email or facebook
Beans in a slow cooker with a meaty bone, water, onions and a handful of whatever herbs make a great and easy winter meal.

It sounds like a long list, but it takes longer to read than to do for the most part. Even if you only do a few of the evening preps for the morning, you will be able to relax more completely without having to think about the tasks of tomorrow. Most importantly, do something nice for yourself, snuggle in your favorite chair and read or watch a TV show, call a friend, listen to music, knit or color in the new adult coloring books. Make this your New Year 30-Day Retool. Getting into a new routing can take a little time (usually figure two weeks to make it into a habit). But once it is, it will make things easier. OK Now What? A caregiver’s Guide to What Matters, which promotes a proactive approach to caregiving – with special focus on the caregiver and his or her healthy and wellbeing – offers other simple tips. For more ideas see The Fifteen Minute Ritual.


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