“There aren’t enough hours in the day” is a statement I use on a far too regular basis. Sometimes in anger, other times in frustration, and a few times in exasperation and resignation. Being a caregiver is more than a full time job, it’s a whole life job. I have lists of lists of things to do. Lists everywhere. Post-its flutter round my house like exhausted butterflies (they really aren’t that sticky, are they?) You can no longer tell what colour my fridge is for the letters and reminders attached to it with an array of novelty magnets. I don’t even know why I bothered decorating the walls in my hall or living room because they’re now covered in whiteboards and pinboards to hold the coupons and shopping lists and leaflets that I need to do the jobs on the to do lists.

Therefore, if I was granted an extra day, ­(and for the sake of argument, because that’s a pretty vague offering, let’s say it’s a child free and work free day by some miracle), the logical way to spend it would be to plough through that to do list. To make all the phone calls, reply to the emails, tidy the entire house, declutter, go grocery shopping, finally hang those pictures up. However, I know from experience that it doesn’t work like that. The to do list is never ending. Yes, having 24 hours to get the big one-off jobs done would be handy, and would mean that I was back on a level playing field with the daily maintenance. But I know full well that in a few days another big job will present itself and I’ll be wondering where that breathing space went.

So if I had an extra day, I would take the advice of a million memes, and endless Instagrammers, and practice some self-care. I would go on a spa day and I would milk every second. I would get a massage so that I can actually move my neck and shoulders without wincing. I would float in a hot swimming pool so that my body isn’t permanently tensed up. I would sit in a jacuzzi, a sauna, a steam room. I would read a book! I would eat a hot meal while it was still hot, heavens, I would drink a HOT CUP OF TEA (can you imagine?). I would.. wait for it.. take a nap. Yep. I would rest. I would write, I would listen to music, I would dance, walk, and most importantly, I would breathe.

As a single mother of four children with a variety of needs, I always put myself last. I think every caregiver does. The to do list is never going to shrink, something will always crop up. There will always be mouths to feed, floors to clean, bags to pack, and beds to make. Day in, day out. So yes, if I had an extra day, I would use it to escape the monotony and recharge my batteries so that when I returned the next day, I am rested both physically and mentally, and able to take on the world, or the laundry basket as it is more commonly known. Life doesn’t stop, but sometimes we need to. Sometimes, you need to literally stop in your tracks and take some deep breaths and clear out your mind so you can start again.

Unfortunately, I very much doubt any of us will ever have a magical extra day (unless you have awesome people in your life willing to take your kids, which I know some lucky people do). But try and find yourself an hour, or half an hour, or even just five minutes a day to recharge. Have a long soak in the bath once the kids are asleep, hand them their screens for half an hour after school while you have a hot cup of tea and play a game on your phone, have a bloody nap if you have a little one who still naps or you’re at home while the kids are at school/daycare. The housework will still be there, but you will be in a much better headspace to tackle it. I know you are probably sick of hearing it by now, but self-care is important. And it is especially important for caregivers who have to sacrifice so much of their time, energy, brain power, and soul, for the ones they love, often to get nothing back in return. Parenting is a thankless job at times, especially if your child has additional needs or disabilities of some description, but know that you are appreciated and loved, and appreciate and love yourself too.

Kitty is a new Family Fund Blogger, read more blogger stories here