Quit making last minute plans and changes on us (Episode 72)

If you are fed up with people making and changing plans on you at the last minute (or even worse, cancelling), this episode is for you. Join host Kay Coughlin to hear what you can do so that you don’t have to be the victim of this kind of disrespect any more.

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Transcript of episode is below.

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Do you need to find a way to get some rest, even if you believe that you can't possibly take care of yourself when the people around you need you so much?

Most of us have been taught that we can't (or shouldn't) prioritize ourselves because there are just too many other things to do first, and too many people to take care of first. But that doesn't have to be true! You can get some rest and you don't have to figure it out by yourself.

Kay Coughlin created the "From One Caregiver to Another"® membership community to empower and encourage family caregivers and sandwich family caregivers to set boundaries, get rest and feel less alone.

Transcript: Quit making last minute plans and changes on us (episode 72)

Hi there. I’m your host Kay Coughlin. And you’re listening to From One Caregiver to Another. I am a life coach for family caregivers and sandwich family caregivers like me, who want to get some rest and feel less lonely. I taught myself how to navigate all of my responsibilities and get into the mindset I need so that I can set boundaries, have self-compassion and prioritize myself so that my needs get met, too. And that’s what I help my clients do also. And if we can do it, I know you can, too.

This is episode 72.

I decided to record this episode today as a little bit of a rant. So if I get a little ranty, well, just know that you’ve been warned. And actually this topic makes me so hot under the collar, that I usually stand up when I record my podcast episodes, because I kind of like that energy that it gives to the episode. But I had to sit down to record this one because I don’t want to be jumping all over my office while I am doing this recording.

This topic of people who make last minute plans and last minute changes. This has been coming up for me a lot lately. If you listened to the episode I released last week and that one was called “Grieving your old life,” then you actually heard me touch on this over in that episode.

If you have people in your life who change things on you at the last minute, and it makes your life a lot harder and more exhausting, this episode is for you. I see you.

I have to tell you that the flexibility to do things at the last minute, that is just not a luxury that I have anymore much at all. Between my business, my two teenage boys, my husband and my mom. Oh. And the fact that we live on a five-acre property that needs a lot of upkeep. Well, most of my time is planned out well in advance.

Now I have always been someone who likes to plan my time in advance, so that feels pretty comfortable to me. But, even so the amount of time that I can be spontaneous now is infinitesimal based on the spontaneity that I had in my life before. It just doesn’t exist for me anymore. Basically doesn’t exist.

And here’s an example for you. This one is not about caregiving, but I think it’s a really good example.

Just this morning, I opened up my email because I wanted to reread this invitation that I got to attend a live online workshop. And this workshop is going to be on a business topic that’s really important to me and could be big for my business. So in the first two or three messages in this series of invitations that were sent out, it really looked like the workshop was scheduled for just two hours to take place later this week.

Now I can rearrange a couple of things for something that’s two hours. And it’s a little easier for me because it’s during the business day, for whatever reason, that just makes the juggling time thing a little bit easier for me. I mean, it’s not like I have to rearrange driving the carpool or taking anybody to doctor appointments during my business day. I try to keep those things out of my business.

So anyway, by the time I opened my email today, and that was because I dared to not open my emails for the entire weekend. So I know that sounds radical, but I had two days worth of weekend email to look at. Anyway, by the time I looked at the new email, the reminder that went out today, there was more information on there. And I could see that this workshop was actually scheduled to run for not just one day, but for a total of four consecutive days. And two of them are weekend days. This coming weekend. I mean, four days from now. And the message made it really clear that there’s going to be some content that’s only available if you attend live. You can sign up and just watch the recordings later, but you’re going to get more out of it if you can attend live. Are you kidding me? Who can even do that? Who can clear their calendar at the last minute for four consecutive afternoons, two of which are going to be on a weekend in the spring?

Give me a break. I, I mean, I don’t know who can do that. Not me! But I’ll tell you who definitely can’t do that. It’s family caregivers.

I have mentioned this to a lot of people lately, and there’s a few things that they tend to say to me in response. They say platitudes. A big one that I hear is “well, if it was important enough, you’d make time for it.” That one just makes me want to vomit. That is not how time works. I know we like to pretend that that is how time works, but when there are a lot of people in your life pulling at you, making time for something is really complicated. It’s really complex.

People also say to me, “well, sometimes you just have to seize an opportunity when it becomes available.” And that’s just another way of dismissing the fact that I have a complicated schedule and it’s a way of dismissing that this is a problem for me.

And people say to me, “well, you know, plans do change at the last minute. It’s just something you have to live with.” It’s just another way of dismissing me. I hate it when people say that.

But then here’s this last one and it really gets to me, “Well, I guess it’s just something you can’t do. I mean, you’re a family caregiver and there are some things that you can’t do.” So I will tell you this, if you want to see me get truly hot under the collar about something, go ahead and start talking to me about all the ways family caregivers have to limit what we can do.

Now I don’t believe in these limitations for a second and neither should you. As family caregivers, we can still do anything we want to do. It might be hard, and we’re probably going to have some different kinds of challenges along the way. But stop telling me that there are things that family caregivers can and can’t do. We get to decide that! I’m telling you we are the ones who get to decide.

But the problem with all of this is that this really comes up a lot when you’re a family caregiver. So doctor’s offices schedule appointments at the last minute, without checking about your availability. Now I understand why this happens. Doctors have very limited availability. And also, you know, they have the training that we need. And so they really do often get first crack at our schedule.

But the problem is it’s not just doctors, it’s also family members. Family members will agree to help out so that you can get a break and then they cancel at the last minute. Or they make family plans and they either don’t invite you or they change those plans at the last minute. Or they call you at the last minute to tell you that something is going on.

And then paid caregivers, if you do get to have those, you know, I hear a lot that they call off at the last minute.

When you are the primary family caregiver, there are a lot of moving parts. So many people involved in whatever your situation looks like in life. It’s just a complex lifestyle. And that’s really no matter what your caregiving situation looks like.

I know a lot of caregivers who say that they can’t even get a good night’s sleep and I can relate to that myself. But much less handle a change in plans that comes up at the last minute.

I’m trying really hard to be neutral and balanced about this idea of last minute plans and last minute changes. But I know that you can hear that I’m struggling with this because I don’t feel neutral and balanced about this particular topic.

Time is so precious to me. Time is a sign of either respect or disrespect. I mean, the way you use my time. And I do know that I’m a little bit on the extreme side with how much that disrespecting time really bugs me, but even in the “Five Love Languages” work, which was created by Gary Chapman, even that work includes the idea of quality time as one of the five love languages.

Now, if you are not familiar with the five love languages work, it is outstanding. I highly recommend it. I will leave a link to it in the show notes for you.

And if you haven’t figured it out already quality time actually is my top love language.

Now there are a lot of systemic problems and they’ve been around for a long time. That really means we caregivers can take the brunt of things just by default. I wish it weren’t this way, but it is this way. It’s something that I would like to change. I’d like to think that I’m really moving the needle on this and changing it just in the work that I’m doing here.

And actually, if you want to hear my thoughts about the human giver system, I did a podcast on it. It’s actually called “Human giver system.” I’ll leave a link for that in the show notes too.

So some of these systemic things that cause us to take the brunt of everything are things like, oh gosh, a lack of funding for home health care. Or being denied access to funding for home health care or home healthcare itself for any number of arbitrary reasons. Or having to manage medical procedures that are way outside of our understanding.

And then sometimes we have to pay for food and housing and transportation out of pocket, because it’s just not covered under any insurance plans and there’s no public funding or personal savings to cover it. So that’s what I mean by systemic problems.

But I don’t think that disrespecting our time is one of those systemic hurdles. I think it’s mostly an individual choice and something that shows up in our relationships with people out of habit.

I think people really do have a habit of making last minute plans and changing plans at the last minute. And because of the human giver syndrome, I’ve done podcast episodes on that too, if you want to listen to it because of that, we as caregivers, as givers. We’ve been trained not to speak up, not to talk about how much it costs us and how much it bothers us and how much we suffer when things change at the last minute.

So, because I don’t want to leave you just hanging here, feeling as frustrated about this as I do, there are a few things that we can learn to do about this so that we can change it for ourselves in our own lives.

Ultimately, I want to be able to reclaim the right we have to have our time respected, especially when most of us already are not getting paid for the caregiver responsibilities that we take on.

The first thing you can do is learn about setting boundaries. I have done a lot of podcast episodes about the topic of setting boundaries. I created my whole free online community to talk about boundaries. And you can go join that now, if you want to, if this is something you really want.

I keep talking about boundaries so much because there are two things that I know based on my own life and my practice as a coach for caregivers. And here they are. Boundaries are really hard to do. That’s the first thing. But the second thing is that setting boundaries is one of the single best things that you can ever learn to do. Boundaries protect your time and energy and money, and ultimately boundaries protect your mental and emotional health.

So I know learning about boundaries can seem really intimidating, but I’m going to keep recommending it.

Anyway, next thing here, you can say yes to fewer things. If there is a family dinner planned for, let’s say next Sunday at your cousin’s house, but then your cousin calls you on Friday to ask if you could host instead, or maybe if the party could be at mom’s house instead? Well, you don’t have to say yet. That’s a last minute change that you do not have to accommodate.

Next thing then would be to teach yourself to stop worrying about disappointing people. A lot of letting people change things on us at the last minute happens to us because we as caregivers, and because of the human giver syndrome, do have a tendency to be perfectionists and people pleasers about a lot of things. And I know this is true, I mean, I count myself among these, so you’re not alone. If you find yourself always letting, I don’t know, your sister-in-law change plans on you at the last minute because you’re trying not to disappoint her or you don’t want her to think badly of you because you speak up and tell her no? Well, maybe that tendency, when it happens again, that could be a cue for you to stop and reconsider if it’s what you really want for yourself.

Now, I know how hard this is. If it is as big a deal to you as it is to me to even think about changing the way you look at disappointing the people around you. I want to invite you to take a look at my monthly membership for family caregivers. We’re going to talk about this over there.

And speaking of which a big thing that you can do for yourself, and this is the last one here to help you figure out what to do. If people are always making last minute plans and last-minute changes on you, is you can find a community of family caregivers who understand your challenges, who understand what your life is like. And who aren’t going to let you wallow in it. Who are going to support you when, and if, you want to make some changes to your life.

That’s exactly what I designed my monthly membership to do. It is a place where as caregivers, we can support each other. We can together learn how to have healthier relationships. And while you’re over there, you will get personalized help from me too, if you join. All right, so you’ll get access to some of my coaching over there, if you join.

I did not mean for this to become a big commercial about my membership, but if you’re a family caregiver, and if you feel at all isolated or alone, or like you can’t get some rest. Or, like I’m talking about today, like people are always changing things on you at the last minute. Just go take a look at my membership. It’s it’s really inexpensive. Just go take a look. There’s a link for it in the show notes.

So before I close today, I want to leave you with this thought. You don’t have to put up with it when people try to schedule things at the last minute or change plans on you at the last minute.  You always have a choice. I know there are some situations like medical tests that come up at the last minute that make it seem like you don’t have a choice, but you always have a choice.

If you need people to respect your time, you can teach them how to do that. You know, when the doctor’s office calls you to change the time of an appointment or reschedule a test, you can say, “I mean, I can do this right now, but this is really hard for us. Next time, can you call us before you make the change?” You can start teaching them how to respect your time.

You do not have to be at the mercy of the people around you, just because you have family caregiver responsibilities. You as a family caregiver have rights, just like everybody else does. And nobody, and I mean nobody, has the right to expect you to make all the sacrifices all the time.

If you liked this episode, you have to go check out my monthly membership for family caregivers, and that includes parents, who want to get some rest and feel less lonely. It’s the place for emotionally-safe community, brave self-development and self-compassion. You’ll find the link to it in the show notes and over in my Boundaries Community. I can’t wait to be with you again in the next episode, From One Caregiver to Another.

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your guide

Kay Coughlin, life coach and CEO of Facilitator On Fire, is on a mission to help family caregivers get rest and feel less alone. In every forum she can find, she shouts that it's OK for every human to set and enforce boundaries around their bodies, thoughts, feelings and actions. You can join Kay's free, private online community to talk about boundaries here.

Kay also teaches about emotional labor, how to rest, and Human Giver Syndrome, and is the host of the weekly "From One Caregiver to Another" podcast and author of "From One Caregiver to Another - Overcoming Your Emotional Grind." She is well known for coaching family caregivers and sandwich family caregivers who want help to live happier lives.

When Kay works with businesses, she helps teams understand how to work with people of different ages through her decision-making workshops and "Building Trust Across Generations" seminar. 

Facilitator on Fire is a subsidiary of Donor Relations Mindset LLC, which Kay founded in 2015. She lives with her husband and children, and is the primary caregiver for her own mother, in central Ohio. Kay can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Copyright 2022. All rights reserved, Julia Kay Coughlin and Facilitator On Fire.

#Boundaries #HumanGiverSyndrome #EmotionalLabor #FamilyCaregivers #familycaregiver #SandwichFamily #CaregiverSupport #HowToRest #Caregivers #Loneliness #selfcare #mentalhealth #burnout #stress #caregiverburnout