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new to caring and feel guilty - Carers UK Forum

new to caring and feel guilty

Tell us a bit about yourself here.
I am new to caring. Both my parents have cancer and other illnesses. I also have a young family and am a single mum. If I spend to much time with my parents I feel guilty on my children and when im with my children I feel guilty about my parents. Will this feeling ever go away.
Hi Michele and welcome,

It's hard being a carer, you sometimes feel like you can't do right for doing wrong and your best attempts are never good enough. It's particularly hard in the beginning when you are trying to adjust.
It's kind of a ticklist here, but very important...who is supporting you?
Have you had a carers assessment from your local social services?..they are duty bound by law to do this.
Are your parents linked in with relevant services regarding their illnesses? (for example Macmillan)
Have you spoken to citizens advice/carers uk about benefits entitlements?
What sort of attitude do your parents have towards you? Are they 'demanding' and expect you to drop everytihng to rush to them and sort things out for them? Or do they recognise that your first responsibility is to your children? That is, after all, the primary duty of parents - to be parents (and your own parents should recognise that is YOUR primary duty).

I'm not saying your parents should be ignored, but their needs should not come before their grand-children's, unless there is a conflict - except, perhaps, in cases of emergencies, or if you are currently sorting out things for your parents in the wake of their diagnoses, or if they are currently in treatment, but that is only temporary and then you will not have to do quite so much for them?

If you are worried about their treatment for cancer, and what the outcomes are likely to be, I definitely recommend you ask questions on whatever cancer forums are appropriate for their cancers (it's grim, most horribly, that both of them are ill!) and a good one to start with is the Macmillan community forum (apols if that's something you've done ages ago.)

Guilt goes with the territory, even when you've made a rational decision on how to apportion your time and concern. But guilt is a very, very negative and 'useless' emotion - if you are doing what you consider to be right, then however guilty you feel about whichever (parents or children) is getting 'less' of you, that won't improve the level of care or concern you are offering. However, easier said than done, when it comes to banishing guilt.

I do hope you are (somehow) getting some 'me time' for yourself, as if you run yourself too ragged, then you will collapse under the double whammy strain of catering to two sets of people (parents and children) relying on you....

All the best possible, stuck as you are as the 'sandwich' generation....not easy.... not easy at all.
Hi Michelle, I've been a multiple carer too, and it's hard work. In recent years, I've been juggling the needs of a son with severe learning difficulties, and my disabled housebound mum. I have health problems of my own. In the end I worked out my son came first, and mum completely understands that. If I did too much, I'd get ill again. So I gradually became mum's care organiser, rather than care giver. Social Services arranged carers 3 times a day to do the basic washing and feeding, mum employed a cleaner, leaving me free to deal with finances, anything which was broken, the garden, fences, etc. etc. As cancer is a progressive illness, the needs of your parents will increase. I would suggest that first of all you write a list of everything you do for them, and then work out how work can be avoided. Do away with flower borders, get a dishwasher, a washer/dryer, put away anything which isn't essential. Ask them to employ a cleaner. I know they won't like a stranger in the house, but they will get used to it. I had counselling when I was struggling, when mum was dropping unsubtle hints about how she would like a "live in" daughter after my husband died. The counsellor made me realise that I never ever said No to mum, that was how I was brought up. He taught me that it was OK to say No, that I needed to manage mum's expectations. Just because she couldn't do something didn't mean I had to do it. Mum always had a written list of jobs for me. The more I did, the more I was given. So I adopted a strict "one at a time" policy. I would do whatever I thought was most important, and agree to do the rest "later". This sounds unkind in some ways, but it helped me so much. After an illness, mum has now gone into permanent nursing care, and I'm selling her house. I know that I always did the best I could for mum (and the other parents when they needed me) but I wasn't Superwoman. As a mum, your children must be your first responsibility. They have a right to a happy childhood, to a mum who isn't always tired from caring, so you need to balance competing needs as much as possible. How about having a regular "rota"? Weekends should be exclusively for the children, Monday doing jobs at your house, Tuesday and Thursday primarily mum and dad's days, Wednesday as "me" time for you, Friday shopping. These are just a few ideas which worked well for me, but obviously everyone's situation is different. Only you know if they might help.
Hi Michelle,
I am a former carer, first to my Mum and then my Husband, unfortunately guilt seems to come with the territory, it is hard to adjust and juggle everything.
Wish I had words of wisdom for you, but just make sure you make time for yourself as well.
are there other family members who could pitch in?
love Phoebe xx