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Information central for parenting with breast cancer.

Taking Care of Your Family

Taking Care of Our Partners

If you’re fortunate enough to have a partner who serves as your primary caregiver, it’s critically important that you encourage your partner to take care of himself. Caregivers are at great risk for burnout. Preventing burnout is in everyone’s best interest-yours, your partner’s, and your children’s. Here are some strategies for avoiding caretaker burnout:

Give Permission

Your partner may feel guilty about taking time for himself, when he’s overwhelmed by his responsibilities as spouse, parent, employee, and now caregiver. He may even feel guilty about having fun while you’re sick. It may help to give him permission to take care of himself, including taking breaks and having some fun. Let him know that self-care is not an indulgence. It’s a necessity. Your partner’s health is an important factor for keeping your family and your household running smoothly while you’re sick.

Encourage Healthy Living

Healthy living is often the first thing to go under the stress of treatment for breast cancer. Encourage your partner to take time to take care of himself by:

  • Eating regular, nutritious meals
    • Eat three meals a day.
    • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
    • Choose whole grains.
    • Eat healthy fats, like olive and canola oils.
    • Pick low-fat proteins, like beans, fish, and chicken.
    • Avoid “junk food” like soda, sweets, salty snacks, and fried foods.
  • Exercising for 30 minutes most days
    • Just going for a walk is helpful. It gets your heart beating, and it gets you out of the house
  • Getting a good night’s sleep
    • Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
    • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
    • Limit caffeine.
    • Avoid naps.
    • Don’t go to sleep with a full stomach.
  • Keeping up with his own medical and dental appointments
  • Avoiding excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, and food as a means of coping

Encourage Relaxation

Help your partner remember to make time for relaxation. He can engage in some of his favorite activities or try new ones. Here are some suggestions:

  • Go for a walk
  • Play golf
  • Ride your bike
  • Take a bath with soothing salts
  • Meet a friend for coffee, lunch or dinner
  • Call someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Do a crossword puzzle
  • Listen to music
  • See a movie
  • Practice meditation
  • Visit a museum or art gallery
  • Start a journal
  • Take photos
  • Get some exercise
  • Go for a drive
  • Walk in the woods
  • Visit a nature center
  • Go to a comedy club
  • Work out at a gym
  • Play with a pet
  • Get a massage
  • Find a support group
  • Write down your thoughts
  • Go swimming

Find a Captain

Your partner might need help taking care of himself. Find a friend or a relative who will be the captain of the self-care enterprise. The captain will help your partner stay motivated to take care of himself, encourage him to engage in relaxing activities, organize outings with friends, and keeps tabs on his state of mind.

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