Caregiving and trying to work at home are a challenge, and we must acknowledge that although it can be helpful and we want to do this, it is hard to find a work-life balance.
Many caregivers find that as their loved one's needs grow over time, the ability to balance caregiving with other responsibilities becomes increasingly tricky. The constant interruptions, emergency runs to the hospital and rehabilitation, numerous doctor's visits, even with the help of home care, made it impossible to meet all commitments.
Part of the issue is having realistic expectations of what will happen and what you can manage.
It doesn't occur to us that caring for aging parents would impact our business, health, income, or savings in such a profound way. Nor does it occur to us how long it can go on.
Not everyone will be able to keep the job they have now while being a family caregiver for a loved one, but here are steps you can take to increase your odds of being able to do both:
Consider home care at least part-time.
While the point of being home is that you can take care of your loved one yourself, you will find that having outside help for day-to-day needs makes putting the time you need toward work each day much more manageable. Hiring a home care aide, whether for a couple of days a week or every day, means you can let someone else take care of the minor caregiving work while you're still nearby if something significant happens that your parent needs you for.
If your parent has long-term care insurance, you can likely find home care agencies in your area covered. If not, your parent may qualify for some form of assistance to help cover the cost. Letting someone else take on some of the caregiving work will make a big difference to your ability to do professional work, so this is an important option to consider and take advantage of, if possible.
Create a plan for what working from home and virtually look like.
It's true that your plan probably won't match exactly what happens when you start working from home, but it's worth it to create a plan anyway. If you're an employee, this will help make a case to your supervisor for why you can be trusted to work from home. You want to demonstrate that you've thought things through and know how to make sure the primary responsibilities of your job will be taken care of. If you're self-employed, it will help you better organize your schedule and business responsibilities to make sure everything gets covered.
Your plan should include considerations like how others can expect to be able to reach you, how to handle time-sensitive situations (you may need someone to serve as a backup for these) and how to manage collaborative work while outside of the office. Anything you can think of that will change because of being out of the office and working different hours of the day should be addressed here.
Make sure you have an office space with a door.
Turning a section of your house into a workspace helps you psychologically separate your home and work life and will also help encourage those around you to do so. You need to set clear boundaries with your family members and friends prone to stopping by about when it's okay to disturb you while working. Heading to your office space will signal to everyone when those boundaries are in place. See if you can have your loved one go to a daycare program or some activity during a day you are working at home, so you have some quiet thinking and working.
Success requires increased in-home help.
If your parent only needs assistance in basic tasks like getting dressed in the morning or having meals prepared, you may not need to change how much work you continue to take on. But if you try to continue spending 40 or more hours per week on work while taking care of a loved one with more severe problems which require more of your energy and time, you're heading toward burnout or failure.
Be prepared to talk with your boss about flexible hours. That may mean talking to your boss and outlining your new but thoughtful plan. Employees who are crucial to their company may find a new but more flexible company and boss. It's better to plan for changes and be prepared early on than to fail in your responsibilities and lose your job entirely because you're trying to do too much.
Enlist others to help with the caregiving.
This may be the most important tip of all on this list. If you're going to successfully balance your job and being a family caregiver for a loved one, you must have other people you can count on to do some of the work needed. Think about who you can depend on for different tasks at different times and get comfortable asking for help.
You'll still be balancing a lot of work but being a family caregiver and working from home and virtually can allow you to be in a better place financially when it comes time to think about your own retirement.
Schedule a call to discuss how I can help you plan, organize, and take better care of yourself and your loved one.