Sometimes as a caregiver you can find yourself with downtime in between work – whether it’s as a nanny with an hour free while the baby sleeps, the pet sitter with a 45 minute lunch break or the cleaner with a half hour commute.
During these moments it’s easy to be glued to your phone and let the time just pass. We’ve put together 7 ways to maximize your downtime regardless of how busy your schedule is:
1. Get in the Right State of Mind
Regard these small chunks of free time throughout the day as a gift. Remember that this is time you can spend however you want, relaxing or making progress toward personal goals. Shifting your mindset from being bored to looking forward to this time is the first step in making the most of it.
Small things like making lists will help you stay on track. If you only have a few minutes of downtime during an otherwise busy schedule, use it to focus on all of the positive things that have happened that day or week. It will keep your spirits up and help you appreciate the day more.
2. Find Extra Work
Does your employer need some additional help? For example, the family you babysit for may be willing to pay you more to do the laundry or tackle some light cooking while the baby sleeps. You won’t know until you ask.
3. Read New Books
Pick up a book that you might not otherwise read. It could be a biography of someone you admire, the latest bestseller or a non-fiction title that’s related to your field, such as child development or training methods for pets.
Challenge yourself with new ideas that broaden your horizons and make you more effective at your job. Small bits of time can be the best way to read these books, since you maintain focus without getting overwhelmed.
4. Look After Yourself
Caregiving is a demanding profession, where you put all your focus on other people. What about you? Using little chunks of downtime to focus on staying calm and centered can make you happier and more effective at your job. The next time you have fifteen minutes free, try holding some yoga poses, journaling or practicing meditation. It’s a quick, easy way to bust stress and energize you for the next part of your day.
5. Learn a New Language
Whether you’ve been dying to improve your Spanish or want to study French for au pair opportunities overseas, dedicating fifteen to thirty minutes each day is the best way to do it. Audio tools, books and apps for your smartphone or tablet are portable and easy to focus on during downtimes. Plus, families and companies are always looking for bilingual caregivers. Learning a new language can improve your professional options and increase your salary.
6. Get Fit
At the other end of the spectrum, sometimes we need movement more than relaxation. If your schedule makes it hard to get to the gym, use your break to do an easy workout. Two fifteen-minute workout sessions can be just as helpful as one longer half an hour session at the gym. Bodyweight workouts, cardio that uses portable equipment like a jump rope or a simple Pilates routine can help you achieve your fitness goals in just about any space.
7. Get Viewing
If you’re having a tough day, put your break to use with some serious stress-busting by visiting YouTube. Whether it’s a few minutes of your favorite stand-up comedian’s latest act, a funny parenting video or a ridiculous clip of a singing cat, watch something that’ll put a smile on your face.
Now make a list of all the things you can do with your free time and turn to that list whenever you find yourself with time to kill.
Downtime at a caregiver job can be used productively or to find more balance and relaxation in your day. How you use the time may vary day to day, but remember: make the most of it, whether you’re tackling the laundry or searching the Internet for a smile.
What do you do in your down time? Share your experiences with us below!