Episode 36. Integrating Self-Care With Caregiving, with Elizabeth Miller

September 21, 2021

I hope you are all ready to be blown away like I was during todays episode with Elizabeth Miller. I have enjoyed hearing from these amazing women talk about how they took a problem and built out a solution. Elizabeth did that and then found a way to monetize work that truly fueled her soul — which is not an easy feat! Elizabeth is the founder of Happy Healthy Caregiver, which is a resource for all caregivers to help them bring self care and happiness into their lives and roles. Elizabeth starts off our call by telling me how she is such a people person, and I cannot wait for you all to see that come to life throughout our talk!

Elizabeth became an unpaid caregiver after the loss of her father, and realized how all consuming it is to take that role on. Through her experience and talking with other caregivers, she has been able to work with companies and brands who are looking to talk to caregivers and the aging population, and provides them the tools to infuse selfcare into their lives. After years of working in broadcasting and IT, she was able to pull from her business management and project analysis experience to help her build this new business venture! Elizabeth also talks to me about how this business (and being a caregiver) has impacted her family as well — she has raised some self sufficient kids! We finish with some great tips for self care and caring for others, as well as some CRAZY stats on caregiving in this country!

Caregiving is going to impact all of us as some point, so this is a MUST listen for all the tips. You want more? Head to Elizabeth’s site to get even more tools and insights, and check out her blog and Instagram!

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36. Integrating Self-Care With Caregiving, With Elizabeth Miller

I hope you are all ready to be blown away like I was during todays episode with Elizabeth Miller. I have enjoyed hearing from these amazing women talk about how they took a problem and built out a solution.

Full Transcript:

Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your babies. First, we have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans, and made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance with a two year old and newborn into, but I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos.
Welcome back everybody to another episode of amidst the chaos, I am here today with Elizabeth Miller and she is a guest that I actually found through people, it’s another people connection just like most of these guests have been and it’s so exciting to meet people from friends and families, past, present and kind of get them involved in this podcast and share their story So Elizabeth welcome.

Elizabeth: Thank you, Dana, I’m delighted to be here and just to build on that my dad always had said that life is a contact sport. So, you meet a lot of contacts and they know people so just maybe think of that when you were doing the introduction.

Dana: I love that it’s so true, like, and especially with social media now to like, you feel like you know people and you feel like you can, you know you’re friends with them even when you’re not but on top of that people are so easily can share like and be triggered like oh hey this person will actually be great for your podcast, it’s just one click and one message to make the introduction happen and it’s so easy now it’s been, it’s been great so Elizabeth is the owner of the happy healthy caregiver and she is here to kind of talk to us about her story of how that came to be and her story is just a little bit different than what we’ve been hearing lately with, I’m in the field right now, very young moms and you know starting their businesses and how that kind of grew so this is I’m so delighted to hear your perspective, from the side of things so Elizabeth tell us a little bit about what you do right now and how your business is run today.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So yeah, not a young mom anymore, I’ve got two, two kids in college so we’re basically empty nested home here, but my husband and I, we have two dogs and we live outside of Atlanta, and I started happy healthy caregiver and like a lot of caregivers get involved with their caregiving businesses. I lived it, and I felt like it was harder than it needed to be and that there was a problem that needed to be solved and who better than me to try and solve it, you know, in a nutshell I started back in 2015 I had just lost my dad and mother in law the year prior to chronic or terminal illnesses, and prior to that my, My parents have had chronic health issues, my whole entire adult life, and my husband was a caregiver as well so when we say caregiver, just in case your audience isn’t familiar with that is, doesn’t mean I’m a paid caregiver it’s normal, although I feel like a lot of the things that we do require a lot of training and a lot of skills so I don’t really like that term informal caregiver, but a lot of times it, we are unpaid people who are caring for family members and friends and neighbors and so forth and there are 53 million of us in the United States, which is a lot of people who are just wandering around aimlessly trying to figure this out.

Dana: Yeah and so okay so your business today. Tell me about what you’re providing as a service right now.

Elizabeth: So great question so it’s evolved over time I think a lot of because it wasn’t like my entrepreneurial business was like, I’m gonna be a plumber and you kind of know what a plumber does. I’m not a plumber, so I had to put throw a lot at the wall and see what would stick. I’ve tried many things since 2015 But where I am today as far as how I monetize my business is I do a lot of content sponsorships with different partners so could be a corporation. Sometimes I do speaking events with different organizations with different employer groups so I get paid to speak. I get paid to write content or to have content on my various channels and that could be my podcast, it could be my blog could be social media. So, essentially I normally work with partners who are trying to reach either family caregivers or the aging community, and it kind of happened by accident, frankly, where I was filling a need and filling the service of really just trying to build a consulting business for caregivers and be that person that they could lean on. And it just never really felt completely comfortable for me to charge family caregivers for coaching services I do do it, but I don’t do a lot of it, it’s not scalable for me as a business and also, I want someone else to pay for the caregiver house. So now I get to write helpful articles, produce helpful podcast episodes, be in groups in front of people and somebody else besides a family caregiver is paying me for that.

Dana: I love that it’s so I was actually going to talk to you about this because it’s so interesting how people go about monetizing their business and there’s so many like quote unquote blocks you can go through right of like you have all this money block of like okay, I don’t feel that doesn’t feel right to me, charging for this but you’re providing a service and you have to get paid. If it’s your full time job and you’re providing a service you do have to get paid, but it is a really fine line of like they’re going through so much and this is such a hard time in so many people’s lives, emotionally, physically, financially, all the things that just it’s hard to be able to turn that into a business so I’m excited that you’ve kind of found your path that works for you and your business so how did you get here, talk to me about what your life looks like before you are a caregiver, what did you do for your, what was your career path. What did your family life look like, talk to me about your life, you know, pre 2015

Elizabeth: Yeah, so there’s been, been a long history of different things but I started I guess for the professional part of it. I studied Broadcast Journalism at Penn State, and then realize quickly I didn’t want to work midnight to six and work some radio boards and in the middle of nowhere, that kind of gave me a foundation to work for Turner Broadcasting is based here in Atlanta, so I worked for Turner Broadcasting for 10 years. My very first job I made $24,000 I was an executive assistant for a group controller, meaning that he was a numbers person I am not a numbers person I am a word in communications person and, but I learned a lot from him. He spoke eight different languages, and he needed a lot of help acclimating to the United States and so I did things beyond my job there and, and helping to just help his family out, you know he had asked me if I wanted to get into the world of accounting and I thought no way that’s not, again, I’m not a numbers person that’s not who I am, but I made connections back to the beginning when we said, like as a contact sport and so I was always looking for new things I was trying new things at work and I wanted to kind of get myself out there. So, the IT, information technology stuff was building up at Turner and I made connections there, and I fell in with some really good mentors some young people who’d moved from California to Georgia to help start our IT department, and they took me under their wing and I started doing business analysis I did project management. And I did that for a lot of for about 10 years at Turner and then I had children, and would call myself at the time I don’t know if this is a term people still use but a sequencing Mom where I was kind of ebbing and flowing my work in order to sequence the seasons of my life. So when I had one child, I still worked. But I was one of the first people who went with another co worker and we pitched doing a job sharing program at Turner, which was really cool we overlapped on Wednesdays and we compared notes that but then we were successful at doing it and it worked out. So I got full time benefits for working part time and that, that was amazing for a while. Well, then I was doing international trips and it got to be a little bit hard to doing like software implementations and stuff at some of our international offices asked to work on domestic ones but then when I had my second child, and 2002. It really got to be too much to balance everything, so I retired from corporate world I thought forever, but I ended up I did revisit corporate world again down the line, and then I did some things, you know, while I was working, and the kids were little, I was an indirect sales I had a creative memory scrapbooking business. So families and memories and sharing stories has always been important, you can kind of see the journalism tie in there, with, with all of that in the software part because things started getting digital with scrapbooks and so I was right there and I earned some fabulous trips for my husband and I and and you know I had kind of a monthly goal and I would do whatever it takes and it was great because I could be home with the children of the day. But at nighttime, I would do home parties or on weekends I would have crops at my home or retreats or something. And so that worked for us for many years. But then if life gets expensive as the kids get older they’re, you know, travel sports and all of those things so I did some substitute teaching. That was when they first went to school I started doing that, oh that’s so smart. Yeah, so it didn’t seem substantive but we were making like $75 a day that I then I thought about going back to school and becoming a teacher. And then I had this like self talk with myself thinking, okay, that’s going to take away time for my family to get another education and make less money than what I was making in it, like it just didn’t make sense. So I sort of went back to some contacts again at Turner Broadcasting that I had that had moved on. And I went into I worked for a software development company for a while and product management, and I did that for a few years and then most recently, I worked at Aaron’s which was a rent to own company that’s headquartered here in Atlanta, and I started in it there, the beginning the last seven years and most recently, was working in the strategy department running their business transformation program management office, you know, then of course 2020 happened, and I was furloughed for a couple months which completely like slapped me in the head, you know, somewhere in the area at Aaron’s I had started at my prior job I had started building happy healthy caregiver with the intent that this is what I was going to do full time, but in the nooks and crannies of life, while raising kids while working full time while caregiving for my, my mom after my dad passed I ended up coming to Atlanta and then it was a long distance caregiver for a while so, but life was messy, really mad at me, but it kept motivating to me to be like, I want this to be different, I want to get digitus full time jobs that I have complete flexibility to care for my family and whatever stage that they’re in. So that was kind of the carrot that kept motivating me and tried different things for that. When I got furloughed though last in 2020 with that allowed me to do is, I didn’t know how long it was going to be but I have the two months to lean in and start working full time on Happy Healthy caregiver and I got some new partnerships and wondering you know always like what would this be like to work at a full time, and then I got called back and I did you know take my job back, but then I had two bigger jobs to maintain, really, really hard decision. One makes a heck of a lot of money, but doesn’t necessarily like you know fulfill your soul and the other one. So sales the soul but really is, you know, not a monetary win there so some tearful conversations frankly with with my husband and we just kind of we put a plan together to say okay well let’s carve out a year. And, and see what can happen when you put all of your energy into working at full time so it wasn’t like, yeah, I quit my day job and have a great, you know, financially self sufficient and making, I don’t even make half of what I needed my, my other job, but it feels amazing.

Dana: Yeah and I think that’s so important for everybody to recognize that like it’s not always this like, Yes, I did it I want you don’t have to be like, you don’t have to have this crazy, positive attitude and live in the black or white of was this the right decision, there’s so much space for the gray there to be like okay this is what works for us now and I know like in my heart of hearts, this is what I want to do and I want to try it and give it this time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s comfortable. In fact, it’s probably not comfortable for the majority of people making that step and it’s and it’s scary but I love that this kind of got you there. I think it’s so interesting, too, about your career path that you’ve done all of these things that are seemingly different, but everything relates back to that you are such a people person, I mean everything that you’ve been talking about doing every, like, little change in your career that you had over the past 20 years like, that’s when you’ve been the happiest and most successful so when you’re around people and now the fact that you’re speaking to the masses and really kind of helping people through this really tumultuous time in their life is just I feel like it’s just the perfect place for you it’s all that’s so awesome and I’m sure. Actually, tell me about how your family feels about this like what does your husband think about you doing this to see, does he notice a difference in your day to day, like positivity and emotions or yeah so

Elizabeth: it’s been a few months since I resigned from my corporate job it was mid May and you know we’re speaking here in August, and to tell you the truth, it hasn’t been a normal couple of months so it has allowed me to do a couple, a couple things I am an ambassador for a nonprofit as well. So, in addition, it gives me the space to be able to get my time back to a organization that I believe in it’s called no barriers usa.org And they do caregiver respite retreats again the full amazing vacations essentially for caregivers to get a complete recharge and that is like the gift I strongly believe in that I couldn’t afford to give some money but I can give my time to do it so. In June we went to Colorado for a caregiver retreat I have another one coming up in Wyoming. And so those are paid events for me but I do get to experience some wonderful travel and I get to talk to the people and be with the people that I enjoy being with the caregivers from that last retreat, my aunt had passed away so that gave me the space to kind of go and remotely go to Pennsylvania, and be by her bedside my little cousin who’s younger and not married. She’s an only child, her dad is like health issues of its own and her mom was dying. So in my aunt, so I went bedside with her was there for her last week of life, my sisters and I had kind of tag team so we could help my cousin. And then it was there for the memorial so again I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to necessarily do those things with my structured day job, so are we working, you know, working in the nooks and crannies wife sometimes working on nights or weekends you know in between trips, but that’s my choice, you know, but the normal weeks I think are to come where I’m kind of getting into my groove of you know getting up and, but it’s been an adjustment, it’s like, when do I want to get up when do I want coffee, what time do I want my gas, you know, things take way longer than I think they should I think has been the main, the main crux of what I’m learning about the entrepreneurial life is I put it on my to do list every day and I get about a fraction of it and it’s not because I’m not sitting here working on it, it just as things take longer than you know having done this job full time before, and now I’m kind of wondering how did I even do it, you know, in the nooks and crannies that like it’s, it’s kind of crazy.

Dana: Yeah that’s and to when you’re, you know, building your own schedule and trying to figure out what works for you, and you’re saying, Okay, I have all these things to do today you sit down to do them. There isn’t a limit on how far you can take each to do, right, like, some things are black and white yes I just found a female Yes. To do that, but when you’re creating anything like I’m you’re structuring your podcast episodes you’re writing your posts like you could keep editing them forever, there’s no hard and fast, like here’s how much it needs to be here’s how many words it has to be this is the end goal of what we’re trying to accomplish, like, it is at your disposal like it’s totally in your creative mind and you can take it as far as you want. So for me, that’s where I get wrapped up in like things that should take 30 minutes taking two hours because I know that I want it to be just how I want it, and I have the you know I technically can afford to spend the extra time to make it exactly how I want it but it does turn around and kind of kick you out on the back end when, when you don’t have it done so, That is so, so interesting that you put it that way and I love kind of thinking it through as you know from especially from just moving into, you have a full time, dedication to this job and that’s a very different perspective than hustling to get done wherever you can, and the nooks and crannies.

Elizabeth: Yeah, it’s, I think you know for me, as long as I’m trying to, I try to focus on something that’s going to help monetize my business I will even if it’s just, you know, making a new contact on LinkedIn, something like that where it could be a new speaking opportunity or a content partnership, something like that I just, you know, while you’re doing the work you’re also having to get the next word coming in. And so that’s a lesson that I’m learning is just like to kind of keep that pipeline going, it doesn’t take long. It just has to be intentional and the caregiving business that I have in particular is coaching and teaching people with through content that I that I put out there about how to integrate caregiving and self care into their busy life. And so I have to practice what I preach, you know, because frankly I had burned out through caregiving I had also burned out through work, you know, by doing all of these different jobs so I do practice what I preach in fact on my Instagram every day. I put, you know, on today’s agenda and what I’m going to do and the purpose of not is to be like Wow, look how amazingly busy, I am doing today, like I said I don’t necessarily get it all done. But I want to show people that it’s an intention that I’m putting out there to say, hey, and notice it’s not all work related, it’s, it’s, you know, I rode my peloton, bike or I’m going for a walk with the dogs or I’m reading some of my book or I’m banking on Poldark or whatever it is that I’m infusing that in my day with work, I think it’s important for me to just kind of put that out there and show that I am trying to lead that integrated life, the one that infused with self care.

Dana: I love that and I think it’s so, so important and so hard to do especially when you’re running in a million different directions in a million miles per hour. So talk to me about how you even got into caregiving as a business like talk to me about that transition from taking care of your parents and you know your in laws and how you turn that into being like okay I’m actually good at this, this is something that is needed like well how did you go from doing it and being totally burnt out by it to do, forming a whole business.

Elizabeth: The very first step was when I was driving back and forth to Florida from Georgia, and I got to know that six hour drive very well and it gave me a lot of time like myself and just be like, you know this sucks, frankly, then I only have like little chunks of days and then I have to go back and another Sibley takes over and we were just dividing and conquering, but it was very clear to me in caring for both my parents and my mother in law, that everything that was impacting our life, was something that these people that we love have made different lifestyle, healthy choices. It wasn’t like they got, you know, cancer or will they get cancer will get one cancer but from smoking cigarettes in my parents had chronic health issues from being morbidly obese, and you know my mom smoked, they had sleep apnea from from being obese and lots of complications with diabetes, my mom had COPD, so it’s actually called them like a cocktail of different things but I had three clear examples in my daily life of what happens when you don’t prioritize your own health and happiness so that was just something like I tried on and the very first thing I did was on Instagram, not even as a business but kind of the precursor to the business was I saw somebody do 100 days of happy I think but then I thought well I’m going to do 100 days of healthy I’m just going to see if I can be intentional every day about doing something healthy and I was just doing it for my own self at that point you know just getting the countability frankly, and seeing, seeing what can be out there. And so I started doing that. And then I started blogging, and I started writing and that felt very cathartic and started doing that and I thought, I don’t really want this to be anonymous, I want this to help people. So share sharing it that in so it just kind of started stacking these habits on that were making me feel affirmed and better about my situation. I had looked for things you know that would help me I like went on Amazon and I’m a big reader, and I found a few books I didn’t even know what I was searching for I didn’t even know it was called a family caregiver like I didn’t even, I didn’t know what terms to even use to search for, you know, not nobody in my immediate friend group was going through things at that time, either I felt like I was on the younger and maybe it’s because I’m number five out of six you know my parents were, you know, in their 70s, and my friends whose parents hadn’t gotten there yet, where they were just healthier, who knows, so I didn’t even know where to really look I didn’t they just felt like all of this stuff that I was doing and creating like I wanted to pass this on for somebody else. And when I was carrying the primary caregiver for my mom and working full time I thought I want to ditch the stage I’m going to create something so I created this ebook that my initial thing was like I’m going to write an e book about all this stuff that I’m doing that’s that maybe could help somebody, and I’m gonna put it out there, and then, you know, I really believe that like it was such a need for it, that how can people not buy this and I’m gonna quit my day job like that’s that’s what a dreamer, I was innocent, ignorant, you know whatever dreamer. Seven years ago, well the ebook was not a success because it didn’t have following and the things at that time but it was not offered not though because that then led to the next thing which was like, I joined a community of people who were quitting their day jobs, it was, I think it’s called the Flipped Lifestyle or flip your life they have a podcast, where two teachers quit their jobs and we’re, we’re making enough money to support their family full time and I listened to podcasts like that on my way to work my way home from work and then I would just kind of implement the next tip was working, and it gave me a community that I could link it to so that other people around me were like What are you trying to do what, what, what is this digital online craziness that you have in mind that’s never gonna work like knowing that that could say that might work, you know, have you tried this, have you tried that, that felt like more, given my, my dream some space to kind of evolve and dream get bigger there. So that was great for a while, and I bought consulting time with these people and they you know, helped me and they helped me kind of reformat everything you know my website everything, all of that built, built by me like I’m not a tech. I’m a functional IT person so, you know, now I’m at the point where I do have some help with my email newsletter I literally just hired help this week to get help with my podcast but it’s just been me for the past seven years like learning and trying different things and in training myself on how to do them. Another kind of fail on the business was like, Oh, I’m going to do a membership community I’m going to take my ebook and I’m going to split it up in a way that people are going to want to come in and not be burned out and then they’re going to stay for the sense of community and meet other caregivers, but again when needed to pay me for that, that felt a little weird, and they didn’t have time. Time to engage that kind of a level. so another learning you know things but again like every single thing has, has helped me kind of prepared get to the next thing, and then this partner, you know where I’m doing product review videos or reading people’s books or things like that like people need a platform to get their messages out there and yes, through doing all of these failed attempts and being in the red for a few years it finally got me into the black and so I remember the first time where I was like okay, I’m on to something here like, I’m not crazy is, I have to depend reached out to me a couple of years ago, probably three years, three or so years ago and there’s a caregivers day in February and they wanted to do a self care kit for caregivers, and so they had approached me about writing some content for them. And then after that, a couple months went by, I was like, Well, can we do more together I they paid me for it and again I had to figure out how to price things and all of that. And then they came back and I got a long term agreement with them and that was like my first big check where every month I was writing them a blog post I was helping with their engagement, and their incontinence community and I kind of chuckled because I didn’t know that it was so to speak, kind of a crappy way of your first paycheck is, is by working through and incontinence company but it really just kind of opened my eyes to say, Okay, well, this is just one of many companies like what, what if and then a lot of the partners were finding me through Google and reaching out and that was kind of the the straw man this year or last year is like, well, what if I started proactively reaching out right, what could that look like. And that is a big theme for for that yet, so that’s. Stay tuned.

Dana: Yeah, so I’m sure by the time this episode is released, we’re gonna have an update for you. I’ll make sure I do a new update with whatever’s happened in the past few weeks after this so well this is, I just think it’s so interesting to from your perspective here on the podcast, we’ve been living in land just and not, not intentionally at all but just because that was my story was hey I needed to be home with my kids I needed to spend more time with them before they went to elementary school and you know my time with them as as babies and toddlers and preschoolers was gone, you know, and I, and I wanted that and so many moms have a similar story to me but it’s so interesting to think about it on the other side of the coin, because now you’re at the point you’ve raised your kids you’ve done, you’ve done your time, you know you did your time like flexing in and out of different works and environments.

Elizabeth: About the biggest part of your life unless you have the direct experience with my mom, my grandmother. For the last few years, she passed away. He was such a life change and life adjustment for her that you don’t even think about it is not up to me, I mean, and I’m, you know, I’m 31 it wasn’t on my radar for sure before that but watching my mom go through that was heartbreaking. I mean there’s only so much you can do when you’re apart you know I’m four hours away and I have two tiny babies like, I’m not exactly helpful to come down and help, like I can’t come and help her, I have to bring my kids and that’s not helpful so to be able to find somebody like you, where you know you can send your you know, even for people in my demographic to find you, this is so important because now I’m reaching the generation where, you know, our parents are taking care of their parents, and they have no resources and I just think it’s so interesting to see how you’ve made it work, you know with caregiving and, and to see that almost the struggle of becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business is the same even though you’re doing it here’s after you know we did with young kids, it has so many similar parallel struggles, and so many similar solutions to, you know, you realize like hey if I don’t just wait for people to come to me and I go to them like let’s see what can happen and I think that message transcends, no matter what age and industry you’re in, it’s it’s all the way down to the bottom and all the way back up to the top so I just think that’s, that is so interesting.

Dana: So talk to me about like, what do your kids think about you running your own business like did where they once they were like what is this technology like you this isn’t gonna happen or were they like, oh yeah, this is, this is how the world works now. What did they think.

Elizabeth: I, they’ve always seen me do my own thing so they don’t know any differently like when they were little, you know, I don’t know but the substitute teaching they remember me doing that and coming in and be you know, being proud that I was teaching in their school I only did their school because it was just easier to collect them at the end of the day and, together, and then, you know, when I was doing this, even the scrapbooking things I mean they would go around and they would hand out prizes, or they would pick up plates or they would participate in the scrapbook camps, that I did in the summertime for kids and so they’ve always seen me do my own thing and they can they’ve also seen. My husband has been an entrepreneur for a lot of his life as well in the beverage industry so it’s ingrained, I think it’s interesting to ingrained in them I think they’re definitely supportive and then my daughter’s been on the podcast, my son has not been on my podcast yet but I’ve think it’s going to happen at some point he’s a little, a little shyer, but they share my stuff on social media, sometimes you know their friends know, you know, happy healthy caregiver, and it’s, yeah, I think, I think they’re proud.

Dana: Yeah and it’s so it’s so interesting because we talk about this a lot, you know we say like, Hey, this is so cool that we’re doing this and yes, it takes time away from your family, like you do have to commit time to starting and maintaining and running your business but they’re watching you do it, they’re getting to watch you and I think with COVID This whole past year and a half I mean everybody’s been home like so many people their kids have been able to watch them do their job and see what they actually do and get that experience, but it is so much fun to have your kids know that like hey, like, you could start your own business like you could do whatever it is you know that that we’ve done here and we’re showing you those possible. I don’t know if it’s,

Elizabeth: you know, maybe it has rubbed off in more ways than a guy when like my daughter. She used to polish and sell rocks door to door, you know, and then she did bow Chow she made these like homemade dog treats and sold them at the ball field for my son’s games, so they have this little bit of an entrepreneurial trail proneural spirit as well and then it was thinking. It is important I think that you show them the fruits of your labor. I think the first thing I bought with my own business money was a big swing set like a Costco swing set for the backyard and I was like, it was very, I said Mom bought this with it so maybe that and then the biggest thing I have bought for us, a disney world vacation, multiple days and I said, Happy Healthy caregiver, bought the strip, and they’re like, Okay, you know I’m on Wow, yeah this is fun so I want them to know that and, you know, they’ve, they’ve had to help me get there and to and a lot of ways, particularly in those caregiving years where someone had once told me you don’t want to be indispensable you want to be dispensable like you want to teach your kids to, to do more so that they don’t need you anymore and it’s a weird kind of concept, but, yeah, they might tend to have been they joke about it how I’ve made them do their laundry younger than anybody that they know, but when they were in middle school, they started, you know, doing their own laundry and I just had a frank conversation with them I said Look, mom can like do all of this other stuff and I can come home and you can just watch me in the laundry room all weekend. Or, you all can help me and we can all kind of tag team this and then we can go do something fun on the weekend, like, oh, okay, we’ll do that. And then same thing with caregiving is as my plate started, you know, I already had a full plate as a working mom, and then, don’t buy more caregiving on top of that and everything was kind of spilling over I was losing my mind I felt over extremely overwhelmed and lost myself for a good bit at that time but the kids were like in middle school, my daughter was just starting in high school, right, when my dad had passed and I again sat them down and said look, you know, you guys, your, your schoolwork is like a part time job, you basically have to read, you got to stay on top of your stuff, you got to read the teacher blogs you got to turn your assignments and I just do not have the bandwidth to lean in and do these things, and it would be embarrassing sometimes to be in groups of other moms and they would say, Who does your kid have for his you know, social studies, or whatever, and I had no idea and I only know, I didn’t know their teachers names I didn’t even know basically what classes they were taking it was so much had been kind of given to them that and they were doing it. Yeah I did. We did it was maybe a little bit controversial, but we did pay them we paid them for, as we said, you know, even they get on your report card you get $25 for a you get a B, you get nothing you get C, we’re going to take something away, and it works it works for us and I also have had, you know, kids that are capable, you know, I didn’t have that were that were requiring more assistance for me I did not have special needs. I did not have physical and mental disabilities so it, it was doable.

Dana: Yeah and it was appropriate for your family. I love that like, I mean it’s great that you recognize that and I’m the same way like I said like I talked about like the expectations I have about my kids are some of the parenting things that we do and then I like throw a bunch of disclaimers on there, you know like, oh, well it’s only because we know they can and they you know we don’t have all these other things we’re dealing with and, you know, which is neither here nor there, but I do appreciate that you say that because it’s so true. Like, if your kids are capable like you should expect something of them like it is, there’s no better lesson that they can learn in the world than knowing that like you’re gonna have to have a job someday and you’re gonna have to do this, you know, and you don’t, you don’t get paid if you don’t do a good job, and I love that that was part of your kind of daily routine with them and your structure and. And that, to me it’s also like, not only was it a survival technique for you because you were doing a million things at once and you had to have them, you know, take care of themselves. You had to have them, you know, making sure they were in charge of their education but also, it taught them so many valuable skills like it is not a bad thing at all. I love that.

Elizabeth: Oh, it comes true when they go to college and my son will say, Mom, he was a freshman last year at UGA. And he’s like, my roommate doesn’t know how to do anything, like he can’t do anything, he can’t do his laundry can sign up for some classes it’s like listen, I’m like, I told you this was gonna happen, you’re gonna be like self sufficient at some point, but they can you know they’ve flown by themselves places you know we, we also love to travel as a family. And again, that’s part of my self care is like having those things to look forward to. So, a lot of the the past holiday seasons I know we’re in the middle of summer but holiday tip for you is holidays would really stress me out and I had to figure out how I could still produce something that was going to be really fun for everybody, but not lay on my shoulders and so we started either going away for a trip. When they got older is like this is what we’re doing, we’re doing, not necessarily we would spend the Christmas holiday somewhere but somewhere in that season, and then have to buy things and then have to wrap things in so much good, good there and then the years we haven’t gotten somewhere we’ve exchanged names and we give them money and we say okay you shop for so and so this is this is your budget, find out what they want, wrap it up and they’d love it. They love to be like, part of the process, and what a gift for me to give me time back, and yet we still kind of, it makes it fun for everybody, frankly, it divides the workup so they’re, they’re part of the team, there definitely, and I’ve got you know great supportive husband. I’m lucky and blessed, for sure.

Dana: Yeah, and I love I love that you how you’ve taken that and you’ve recognized because I think that’s, that’s something about having kids too that you don’t really realize how much your parents are doing especially during the holiday season to make it memorable to make all those memories you have, you know you remember for all those years later, but it’s stressful when you’re the one in charge of that when you’re in charge of making the magic happen like that is so much on your plate it just not enjoyable, except for those few minutes, you know, right when they see the decorations for the first time or they open those gifts and I love that you like recognize it enough to take control because I don’t think I would have. I don’t think I would have noticed that until I was just so burnt out from doing the holiday season, except for that I’ve had this conversation with my mom before it’s like you know you don’t enjoy it because you’re just working so hard to make it happen that you don’t sit back, so she’s been like, trying to sit back a little bit more and we’re like, this is perfect just how it is is is perfect whenever we can get done and I love that the idea of giving, putting some of it on the kids to to take some ownership in it and I love the trips that sounds. That’s a great answer.

Elizabeth: Awesome again so in some of them have been in the heat of caregiving and they were so necessary for us to connect. During that time, it’s been great. It’s been great to just watch them grow and you know I feel like my job as a mom is to make them. People that other people want to be around and keep them safe, and if I’m doing that then I feel like I’ve done I’ve done it and you know, of course, you know deep down, do I want them to like me yeah I want them to like me but at the same time. I want them to make sure that I’m checking all of those, all of those boxes, and I think so far so good. Like it’s, it’s worked out for the Miller so far.

Dana: So, so that is so great and so many great tips so if somebody is listening to this and they have a either they’re the caregiver or they’re wanting somebody to know as a caregiver what is like the best tip you can give, that’s like a quick like one thing you could do every day or every week to lessen the burden on you, whether it’s a practical tip or like something on self care like What is something you can tangibly say that will help a caregiver in their day to day life if they just have, you know, five minutes.

Elizabeth: Five minutes is for self care I mean that, that’s, that’s all you need, you can hide yourself in the bathroom if you need to get it. You know for most people, I would say it happens by getting up a little bit earlier than everybody in the morning if that’s if that’s an option for you. And you have to figure out what it is that’s going to make you feel, I feel like self care and energy is a synonym, and so that’s basically what we’re getting at is we want to have the mental and the physical energy to sustain the crazy life that we have out in front of us. It’s a whatever that’s going to would take him so maybe you have to try out some different things just like be trying on different clothes to see what’s going to energize you the most. It might be sitting in journaling for a little bit in the morning, it could be going for a walk outside, it could just be like sitting in meditating or doing a Bible study or whatever it is, with a cup of coffee, you know, like that, whatever it is for you that’s, that’s what you have to kind of map out and then let people know that schedule it schedule it like an appointment, like you would, anything else in your life you know where, you know I have to do this I have to, you know, the kids will miss the bus it’s like that same kind of same kind of that mentality of, like, not if, you know, I’m going to do it but when I’m going to do it and this is how I’m going to put it in your day and if you can’t do it at the same time all the time then just reflect on your day and figure out where it could be you know I had to get very creative with my time, and I teach people actually how to assess their time and figure out where these nooks and crannies of self care exists and it can be in the car, it could be in the shower or it could be you know in the carpools, or the commute time so there’s a lot of a lot of things you just have to kind of look for it. And the benefit will come from that so I know that was probably more than one tip but I would say, if you can get up in the morning and make it happen. That’s my self care tip now my caregiver tip would be. Just don’t try to do this alone. Like, it’s not a one person job. And I didn’t know what was called a family caregiver, but if you’re listening now you know that that’s what you’re called and Google you know the name of your town. Family Caregiver Support and see what comes up and reach out to other people in your community, way before you think you’re going to need the help, like you can see, you can see it coming and you want to have your system in place before you really really need it, because that’s where you’re going to get this affirmation, those are going to be your people that you’re going to be able to, they’re going to get it, They’re going to they’re going to get exactly what it’s like they’re going to be able to share great recommendations, and your, you know it’s not going to be like your, your fun friend group is going to maybe run the other way oh here she comes again and she’s going to start downloading her whole caregiving life with us, you get to find your tribe of your people and so that’s. And if you need help with that, that’s something that can, I can help with and then of course you know I’m a virtual option for anybody. So that’s, that’s always good, too.

Dana: Yes, and I I so appreciate that and I think that’s so true like it is one of those things where it’s so overwhelming. It’s so all consuming timewise like and it’s and so much of it is worried right and it’s like this it can be such a heavy cloud and blanket that’s kind of cast over you but to have people that actually understand what you’re going through and have somebody to talk to that can provide actually helpful resources instead of just kind of listening and, you know, friends are amazing and they do listen and they’re they’re happy to talk to you and even, you know, before my mom like I’m there to listen but I couldn’t proactively do anything, except now I would have known to Google that and find her some resources in her area and find you so I think what you’re doing is just so, so needed and I’m just hoping that everybody is realizing that this is a thing, you know, this being a family caregiver is a thing and it’s it’s not a paid thing, you know, but there are resources out there for those who need it. Yeah,

Elizabeth: I am part of a group called the certified caregiving consultants that is an accredited nation that I’ve gotten, was one of the things I added kind of early on to say one more than just a person who’s lived through this I like, I went through a course and I’ve been accredited on how to coach caregivers and so if there’s somebody listening that’s like I have caregiving experience I would love to do something similar than that might be something where you want to talk to me about becoming a certified caregiving consultant and seeing maybe that tacked on to whatever your normal day job is can give you the flexibility, because we need a lot more there’s 53 million family caregivers, but there’s only like 200 and some certified caregiving consultants So,

Dana: wow, that’s amazing. I did not even realize that statistic that is that is not that was not even, not even at all.

Elizabeth: Even if you like work for an assisted living community or in the health care system and you just want to become more aware about caregivers like it’s a great thing to tack on to your professional thing because that is going to just make you stronger, but there’s, you know, certified caregiving consultants, we all have different niches, some work with young caregivers some, you know, specify in a certain disease some specialize in, you know, yoga therapy for caregivers or tapping or whatever like, you know, marketing skills for helping companies that want to target caregivers like there’s all kinds of different ways. We’re all going to be impacted by this at some point, everyone is going to have caregiving touch their life. You’re either going to need the care or you’re going to be providing the care and that just is the way it is and it does not have to be gloom and doom. I do believe that you can be a wonderful caregiver, and a happy and healthy individual. So, but it takes intention.

Dana: I love that and I just think bringing awareness to it will will change so many people’s intention just realizing that there is a way to do it, that he is happy and healthy for both me and the person they’re caring for so well is that thank you so so much for doing this interview with me I’m just so excited to hear your perspective and this just super important work that you’re doing, I just think it’s amazing so I was like, give us let us know where we can find you, what’s your website and your Instagram and all the, all the places we can reach out.

Elizabeth: The best way you can reach me is through happyhealthycaregiver.com and through there you’ll have all the social media links, and you’ll have to be connected to the podcast. So that’s the easiest place and then you kind of pick from there where you want to go but happy healthy caregiver.

Dana: Amazing. Well thank you so much. It was a pleasure to talk with you and I’m so excited to share with everybody.

Elizabeth: Thank you, Dana delighted to be here.

Dana: I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you heard and more snippets of knowledge about this mom Boss Life, head over to our website at amidstthechaospodcast.com For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it will mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to read it with you. Thanks for joining me, amidst the chaos.

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