Sunday 30 January 2022

Two Cups of Tea and Slivers of Time


The other day I recorded a short video for the (free!) online Caregiving Essentials course that I facilitate at McMaster University Department of Continuing Education. I was talking about self-care. And I was reflecting on the idea of (and sorry if you've heard me say this many times before) that there are two people in a caregiving relationship and they both need care. That means YOU need care just as much as your loved one. But given that many of us are on call 24/7 and we are exhausted, doesn't caring for ourselves sound like just one more thing on a long list of essential tasks?

It doesn't have to be so. I call my approach "two cups of tea." When your loved ones says "I'm thirsty, would you bring me a cup of tea?", don't think "Yes, right away! I'll have mine later." No, make two cups of tea and enjoy yours now, while it's hot. If you want to read a book, read aloud together. If surfing the web is your solace and relaxation, find something to watch or listen to that you will both enjoy. If none of these things is possible because of disease progression or cognitive impairment, think of "slivers of time." One caregiver told me that she does sudoku puzzles when her husband is in the bathroom - we had a good laugh at that one. Yesterday I looked at the image above and I did two things: I read some poetry (the gorgeous words of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney) and I wrote this short poem...

Pour yourself a cup of tea and tell me about your slivers of time.


Unprepared Caregiver said...

This is such wonderful advice that recognizes the needs of both people in a caregiving relationship. "Two cups of tea" is something I will take with me as it reflects the interdependence of the care relationship. Thank you Donna.

Robert said...

Yes so true Donna. I do admit I tend to forget about myself while helping my daughter especially during the last month while some health issues have come about and having that feeling of constantly needing to be on. When we were in the hospital during the first week of January was super stressful for a bit. I learned this lesson what you're talking about when the nurse said to me it's ok to go for a walk while they look after her. I often don't get time to myself so I admit I struggle when it happens in terms of what to do. If theres a moment where I can relax its win she asks if we can watch a movie together and enjoy it. I try my best to block everything we are going through and just be in the moment and enjoy.

Thank you Donna for writing this.