Caring with Time

19th October 2023

Saying yes to something is a thoughtful process instead of an inherent given. Caring makes you empathetic but having boundaries makes you happy. As a Quaker I make time for silence. Worship is silent and by emptying thoughts from my mind I am clearer and calm. Is it like meditation? No, Worship is with Friends and involves a collective silence, there is a bond. Meditation doesn’t empty my mind in the same way and transcendental meditation takes you deeper on your own. In Worship we listen to God within, together.

Always ask a busy person they say, if you want something done. But from where do busy people come from? In my case it is from an early age of caring. Being a child carer and an only child meant that juggling and organising was essential and luckily it suited my personality. I didn’t receive any pocket money and my work at home was much more difficult to manage than homework from school.

Cook weekend breakfast, prepare and cook dinner with Mum, washing up, hoovering, dusting whole house, washing windows, clean gutters, clean shed and garage, sweeping dust, cobwebs etc, washing car, brush dog, wash dog, mop kitchen, wallpapering with Mum, wire plugs with Mum, hang out washing with Mum, grow seedlings with Mum, plant seedlings, gardening, mow lawns, find holiday, book holiday, write cheque, shopping with Mum. These are some of the varied things which made me busy as a child.

Being responsible for a household brings a quickness in growing up. There was also personal care for Mum in my everyday life. I didn’t know it as this; I knew it as love. Help Mum wash and bath, help Mum dress, help Mum with blood sugar testing and insulin, help dress and clean sore ulcerated toes etc for Mum, help Mum on toilet, help Mum with sewing, crafts, reading, radio, TV etc, help Mum go to hospital appointments on bus, help Mum with medication and doctors.

I also helped Mum with her harp, which is why I play it today. I also play piano from childhood. Battling my own health problems during my life started then too (later known as endometriosis).

There are many child carers and recognition is key to finding support for both carer and loved one. Carers need to be able to find down time to provide care.

Why do I write about this? Because I understand how caring for someone is a priority, all-encompassing role and it sucks away you. Now I have self-love I realise I matter and I am enough. With that realisation I became the Quaker I always knew I was; I had been writing about my God within me for a long time. It was my God which fed my strength, will-power and love then and still is today.

Many of us in our 30s, 40s, 50s are carers, for children or family members. Social constraints take away time. Social media swallows time, but I wouldn’t be without it; it connects me to the world. So where do we find the time to ourselves?

The starting point for more time for me was slowing down. Instead of flitting from task to task I commit. Breaking roles down into smaller tasks enables me to achieve. Following through to completion makes things happen. I write it down, if it doesn’t happen I don’t beat myself up I cross it out and write it down again on another day in my diary. Eventually my health, mood and time co-exist and though it may have taken a while, by not forgetting it I’m not worrying about it and happy that it will be completed.

My family are my Friends. We check on each other, with phone circles, emails and WhatsApp. We go on outings together, follow our values and actions together in integrity. Honesty is in loving kindness between us and communication builds our community.

As inclusivity and equality are values in Quakerism I don’t have to prove myself, I don’t have to please, I am just me. It is a welcome way to steer away from care responsibility.

I approach a task slowly and deliberately. With this slowing down I am more productive and careful and bring myself to reach potential I didn’t know I could.

So from caring and being busy, I’ve come full circle. Now I’m a busy Quaker but supported in a loving community where people like me can be found.

Come along to a Discovering Quakers Zoom to meet us and see if you are a Quaker at heart.

Amanda Jones – Okehampton Quaker Meeting

You can find more from Amanda on her website and social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, X & YouTube.