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A Carer's Christmas Wish

Caring throws all kinds of challenges at us. Some things we can laugh off and soldier through, but others can leave us wishing for change. Sometimes we keep these wishes secret, due to uncomfortable feelings like guilt. It can be helpful to know we’re not alone.

We asked carers in our community to share their wishes for the new year. Whatever our situation may be, the end of the year is a good time to pause, reflect and really check-in with how we’re feeling.

All this week, we’ve been asking our caring community:

"If you had one wish to end the year, what would it be?"

We’ve sifted through hundreds of responses and compiled a list of some of the most common thoughts from carers.

We know this time of year can be particularly busy, but if you have time to enjoy a coffee break, grab a cuppa and take a moment to read through our community wishes. Where possible, we’ve also added some tips that might be useful if something on this list resonates.

1. I hope life will get less expensive

Many of us are worrying about the rising cost of energy bills and household goods. Some of us have talked about being unable to put the heating on, or afford to do the things we love. Carers are particularly feeling the strain as we juggle financially supporting ourselves and someone else. Money worries can have a big impact on our mental health, which is why it’s important we seek help if we need it.

Tips from our community and team:

  • Get to know your benefits and discounts: Carers are entitled to support. Checking we're claiming all eligible benefits is a good starting point. If we're unsure, our handy financial checklist can help. As carers, we’re also entitled to a number of discounts including free cinema tickets and days out.

  • Be money mindful: We might have spent more than we can afford over Christmas. Our guide to emotional spending has a mixture of practical and wellbeing tips for managing our money and feeling in control of our finances next year.

  • Speak to someone: If we're struggling with worries about money, it can be helpful to reach out for support. For financial support, your local Carer's Centre may be able to help. Alternatively, many carers recommend their local Citizen's Advice Bureau. If we want to talk about our worries, but don't know where or how to start, it may be helpful to come along to one of our friendly online cuppas. Alternatively, our carer's guide on the benefits of talking may give you some confidence.

2. I hope I get more respite and breaks

If our caring responsibilities are full-on, we may be hoping for more rest next year. Whether it’s a couple of hours out of the house or a whole week away, many of us spoke about needing to find more time for ourselves.

Illustration a person taking a break.

Scheduling respite is important for our mental wellbeing as carer burnout can creep up on us if we’re feeling constantly run down.

Tips from our community and team:

  • Look at funding: The Christmas break is a good time to look at getting assessed for respite next year. If friends and family can’t help, our local council or carers centre may be able to offer funding. There are also charitable grants too. Our carer’s guide to respite breaks down all of the options and how to apply.

  • Take a respite holiday: Being in a new environment can help. Respite holidays allow us to take a break with the person we care for. Charities such as MindForYou, Revitalise, Family Fund and Carefree Breaks offer free or subsidised breaks to carers. We know that places can be limited and in-demand though, so it’s best to check what’s available.

  • Look at befriending services: Caring can be lonely at times. Befrienders are trained volunteers from organisations or charities who can spend time with us face-to-face or over the phone. Check out our guide to befriending services to find out more.

3. I wish to be free of my caring role

Caring can be tough work. And let’s face it, many of us end up in our caring roles without much choice.

Some of us talked about wanting to leave our caring role next year. Anger, frustration and resentment can arise, when we feel like we’ve sacrificed meaningful parts of our life to caring. And sometimes we simply don’t like the person we care for, whether that’s temporary, a growing feeling or perhaps we had a difficult relationship before we started caring. It may help to know that these emotions are valid and very common.

Tips from our community and team:

  • Feel your emotions: Experiencing negative emotions towards our caring role can leave us feeling guilty and upset. Most carers will admit to feeling stressed and frustrated. After all, it’s not easy work. While we may not be able to easily change our circumstances, we can do things to change how we cope. Our guide to managing guilt and resentment has some helpful tips.

  • Know your rights: We’re not legally obliged to care for someone. Knowing our carers’ rights around providing care can help us to feel more empowered in our choices. If we have made the decision to step away from our caring role our first step is to arrange a Carer's Assessment for ourselves and a Needs Assessment for the person we care for. Speak to your local Adult Social Care team within your council. You can also get advice and support around assessments from the Carer Support Organisation in your area. Check which carer services represents your area.

4. I want to take up a hobby

Lots of us talked about craving more time for hobbies that help us to relax, like crafts such as scrapbooking, knitting and dancing. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, hobbies can be a really good way to focus our attention on the present moment. Nourishing our passions, if and when we can, is an important way of taking time for ourselves.

Tips from our community and team:

  • Try online learning: Thanks to the internet, we can learn and practice many new skills at home at our own pace. This can be really helpful if we struggle to get out of the house.

Some useful online learning resources include:

Carers in our community have shared some of their hobbies, which may give some inspiration:

  • Making art easy

  • An introduction to TaiChi

  • Getting started with scrapbooking

5. I want to win the lottery

Perhaps unsurprisingly, lots of us were wishing to win the lottery next year. Some of us wanted to use the money to go on holiday, while others were dreaming of a new house or car. Let’s hope it’s a lucky year for one of us!

Illustration of cash.

Tips from our community and team:

  • Make friends with people who have had good luck (maybe not literally). The default for most of us is to think “the chances of me winning the lottery is 0”. But we’d be surprised if we saw how many others thought the same yet won!

"Not quite winning the lottery - but whenever I buy something online, I use Quidco. By Christmas I usually have about £100 sat there ready to treat myself!"

6. I want to have more energy

When it’s dark outside and we’re busy with Christmas, we can feel really depleted of energy. There might be extra challenges to our caring at this time of year too. It’s no surprise that lots of us were wishing to feel less tired next year.

Tips from our community and team:

  • Look at what’s driving your tiredness: There’s no getting around the fact that caring is demanding work. However, we do have some control over the lifestyle factors that play a role in naturally enhancing our energy levels. Aside from caring, there may be other reasons we feel tired. This could be a vitamin deficiency or too little exercise.

7. I miss the person they used to be and I want them back

Watching the person we care for decline in physical or cognitive health can be a helpless and devastating experience. It can also be isolating if our friends don’t understand. It’s something that many of us are struggling with right now, particularly at Christmas when we’re feeling more reflective. We might feel anticipatory grief if the person we care for only has a limited time left.

Mobilise tip:

  • Practice acceptance: Practicing acceptance can help us to ‘let go’ of the things we can’t change. It’s a painful truth but one that can stop us from blaming ourselves over situations out of our control. We are only human and we can only do what we can. Our best is always enough.

  • Speak to others: Our Mobilise Facebook group is a place to connect with other carers. Talking to someone who is going through the same experience as us can really help.

  • Give ourselves permission to grieve: Feeling all of our emotions is an important part of processing difficult life events. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, but if we can learn to make friends with our feelings we can start to understand that they aren’t permanent states. We can learn about our capacity to handle life’s hard moments by being present with them. We are stronger than we think.

8. That I can enjoy more independence

Putting someone else’s needs before our own isn’t always easy. Caring can take up our free time and limit the things we can do for ourselves. We might struggle to leave the house or find time to catch up with our friends. Lots of carers talked about losing a part of their identity to caring and wanting a bit more independence next year.

Mobilise tip:

  • Block out time for yourself in the diary: Even just 15 minutes of reading a book can be useful. Small but regular breaks between caring can help to replenish us.

  • Find ways to keep your relationships going: If we can’t make it out to social occasions, we could invite friends over for coffee or organise a drink over a video call.

  • Get a carer’s assessment: Let’s look at how our council can support us in our caring.

  • Join our Mobilise Cuppas: Our online video meets are a good place to meet new friends.

  • Be mindful of our independence: Check out our guide to holding on to our sense of self for further tips and advice.

  • Get support: Look into extra support like befriending or paid care at home, to give us more time to ourselves.

Further support

Christmas can be hard for carers. The pressures of the season might tip us over into crisis. If we need emergency support over the holidays, there is help available outside of Mobilise. We are not a crisis service, but charities like Samaritans offer 24/7 phone lines and text support.

Take a look at our guide to emergency support which includes information on what’s open and when.

What’s next?

Why not try writing down your Christmas wish? Spend five minutes writing down anything that comes to mind. Putting our thoughts down on paper can help us to understand what our goals and wishes are for the coming year.

If there are things we can do to make our wishes a reality, telling others about the changes we’d like to implement can increase the likelihood we’ll stick to them. From here, we can create an action plan of how we can make the coming year easier on ourselves and the person we care for.

It can also help to look at our wishes and notice what is within our control or outside of our control. This can shape our actions, but also any acceptance we may benefit from acknowledging.

If you need support, our Mobilise Cuppas are a warm and friendly place to speak to other carers for advice. We hold Cuppas every day, Monday to Friday - we even host one on Christmas Day. Make sure to check the timetable as there may be some small changes to the timings of our cuppas over the festive period.


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