“Mom, there’s a blue bag in the mailbox. It looks like a package,” my daughter said as we drove down our street on the way to school. I assumed she meant the newspaper box and it was the blue bag of ads. I told her as much and said, “I’m sure it’s not as exciting as you think, but I’ll look when I come home.”
Well, much to my surprise, it was a gift bag with my name on it in magic marker. I will admit, there was a moment of hesitation fearing that it was a bag of poo (not everyone loves me!) but was delighted to find an encouraging note, prayer and a book of prayers of renewal and restoration for caregivers. It was left by an anonymous friend who is aware of my struggles and took the time to send some encouragement my way.
I was so deeply touched by this random act of kindness! It’s inspired me to write this post. Not because I hope more people will do nice things for me, but because it meant so much to me and I know there are so many caregivers out there who would benefit from a random act of kindness shown to them.
Do you have a friend or family member who is a caregiver? I’m going to give you a laundry list of ideas to encourage him or her in a minute but, first, a couple notes about your friend, the caregiver.
Your friend, the caregiver, is used to doing things for other people. She is not accustomed to or comfortable with asking for help from others. She is likely to decline your offer the first time, maybe even the second time. Be persistent. She probably really wants to say yes!
Your friend, the caregiver, feels isolated and lonely. She doesn’t get to go out with friends like she used to. If she’s married, she doesn’t get date nights like she used to. She probably doesn’t invite people over as often as she’d like either.
Your friend, the caregiver, wants to hear about your life, yes, even your problems! Sometimes, the best way to get out of a woe-is-me, my-life-is-so-rotten funk is to focus on someone else’s “stuff” be it good or bad.
Your friend, the caregiver, is busy and tied down. Always be ready with two or three dates for whatever it is you’re planning. Be mindful of the fact that it’s probably hard for her to get away. If possible, work with her spouse to schedule times that she will be able to leave. Alternatively, allow time for her to make arrangements for respite care so she can go out with you or offer to stay with her loved one while she goes out.
Ready to perform a random act of kindness for your friend, the caregiver? Here’s that laundry list to get you started:
- Write an encouraging note–and may I suggest snail mail? Admit it–it’s the best!
- Send flowers.
- Pick up a hanging basket or some annuals for her yard. Wear your garden gloves and take a little hand shovel with you when you deliver them so you can plant them for her.
- Fix dinner for her family. Don’t ask her if you can. Tell her you are and give her a choice of a couple different meals.
- Schedule a mani-pedi date for the two of you.
- Give her a gift-certificate for a massage or salon.
- Schedule a girl’s night out for a group of her closest friends.
- Show up with lunch.
- Surprise her with a certificate for housecleaning services or form a cleaning posse with some of her besties.
- Put together a DVD care package with some flicks starring her favorite hunk. Don’t forget the popcorn!
- Take her to the local comedy club. She needs to laugh!
- Buy her a couple books and a snuggly blanket she can curl up with.
- Do her laundry! Maybe not the delicates and whitey-tighties, but you can fold towels, right?
- Gift her with some spa products in a stress-relieving scent.
- Stay with her loved one for a couple hours so she and her husband can go to dinner.
- Go to the grocery store for her.
- Pray with her and for her.
What random acts of kindness can you add to this list? Even the smallest gesture will bolster her spirits, renew her energy and help her to not feel so alone!