Making a List: Including Fun in the Caregiver’s Journey

“You need to do something fun,” a friend said.

“I’m too tired to think of something fun,” I said.

My parents were going through a particularly hard time; my mother’s behavior had gone beyond the scope of assisted living and they had advised that she go into a psych ward to have her medications re-evaluated. My father was worn to a frazzle and we were both unnerved by Mom’s zombie-like appearance as the doctors tried to figure out the correct combination of medicines. Fun seemed like a word from another planet.

Yet I realized my friend was right: I needed to do something that would cheer me onward.

Creating Fun-Sized Options

So early one morning, before I was tired or confused or sad, I made a list of little items or activities that gave me a sense of well being.

At first, the list was small—I was too brain-worn to think of much:

Eat chocolate.

Read for pleasure.

Do a crossword puzzle.

Walk outside.

Talk with people I cared about.

I crammed the list into my pocket and when I thought of something new, I jotted it down.

During the next week I added:

Listen to Dancing Queen.

Hold a stuffed bear.


Go to yoga.

Sleep late.

Dance to Dancing Queen.


Making Time for Fun While Still Being a Very Responsible Person

That weekend, I vowed I would do three things on my list. I ate chocolate (OK, that was an easy one, but I had to start somewhere!), talked with a friend, and read two chapters of a mystery.

I felt lifted up, as renewed as if I’d had four hours in the spa. And I still was there for my parents, my work, and other life responsibilities. So I continued the process of adding to my list and incorporating one fun thing into every day.  Sometimes it was only part of a crossword puzzle or creating a three-minute collage while I was on hold with my mother’s doctor. But even those few minutes gave me back a part of myself and allowed me to more fully appreciate my interesting and chaotic life.

Q for U:

How about you — what are the small fun things on your list?         And are you giving yourself time to do them?


  1. Bernadette Stankard on October 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Great post, Deborah. May I repost this on our blog, Depression’s Collateral Damage?

  2. Judith Fertig on October 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Love the idea of at least one fun thing a day. That way, it becomes something to look forward to as well!

  3. carolekatsantoness on October 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    One fun thing or one positive thing…great post. I awaken each day with a list of positives. Number one is to begin and end the day with prayer. The other four are devoted to seeking what makes others feel good and myself. Chocolate is a biggie and falls right in there with learning and being pro-active. Thanks Deb.

    • deborahshousewrites on October 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm

      Thank you for sharing this. How beautiful to start and end the day with prayer.

  4. Deb Edwards on October 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Become a Play Sister! Dedicated to Playing at least as often as you work…or worry. I liked your story a lot!

    • deborahshousewrites on October 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks, Deb. I love your idea of playing as often as you work!

  5. […] in another arena – that of caring for a loved one with dementia. In her recent post, Making a List: Including Fun in the Caregiver’s Journey, she offers some very practical advice about simples ways to help ourselves stay healthy and happy […]

  6. jodibuchan on October 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Taking back your life through chocolate. Excellent strategy…dark chocolate?

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