Balancing your work and care commitments

Tips to help you juggle caring for ageing or ill loved ones, managing work – and looking after yourself.

Meeting the demands of your job as well as coping with caring for your elderly loved one can be really hard. You might be feeling stressed, pressured, overwhelmed and pushed for time.
 
Here are some ideas for managing it all and looking after yourself at the same time.

Communication at work 

If you’re struggling with the demands of working and caring, it can be helpful to talk with your employer about the options available to help you manage your commitments.
 
As a carer, you may be able to negotiate flexible working arrangements with your employer. Talk to your manager or human resources department about:
 
  • What you need in terms of flexibility. Be as honest as you can, as this can open the door to ongoing communication about your working needs. Avoid vague statements such as “I need more flexibility” and instead outline what that really means, such as different start and finish times, work from home occasionally or flexible leave arrangements. 
  • How you see it working. Ensure you’re clear about how you’d like to approach work. It’s a good idea to give your employer a brief proposal so they can consider any possible benefits and challenges.  
  • How this will benefit them. While it’s important that a flexible approach helps you meet your caring needs, your employer also needs reassurance that you will still be able to meet your work responsibilities. It can help to explain that you’ve considered this, and outline how your proposal will do just that.
Woman typing

Looking after yourself

The challenges of caring for an ageing or ill loved one and the time it takes up might leave you feeling as though you don’t have enough time for yourself. So, how can you get some ‘me time’?
  • Seek help. Help can come in many forms, from asking a friend to take your mind off things with a night out, to seeking professional assistance. Try to identify any areas you can ask for help with, for yourself, your work and in your caring duties. Carers Australia has a range of resources and services that may help, including an advisory service and counselling programs. 
  • Schedule yourself. When your schedule is busy, getting through the days can be all about ticking off those tasks, and you tend to forget about your own needs or wants. Try adding yourself to your to-do list, with a little something each day that’s just for you. 
  • Stop occasionally. Doing nothing can seem like a luxury you don’t have time for. But being in constant demand both at work and when you’re caring for your loved one can be exhausting, and the best way to recharge is to stop. 
When time is limited, aim small. Taking ten minutes to read a book while you sip a cup of tea, or even doing a two-minute breathing exercise, can mean the difference between a calm mind and a crazy one. Try a little meditation using an app, or try an online yoga session. Here are some other ways to relax.
 
Although juggling work and caring for an ageing or ill loved one can be challenging, a few small tweaks to your lifestyle can help ease the load. 
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