Help me get prepared for being out of action for 1 month....

swmboMay 29, 2007

Okay guys, would love to hear any ideas, what has worked for you etc......

I've just found out that I need to have surgery, and have managed to extend the op date to June I have 4 weeks to try and get myself, hubby, kids (1 who has special needs) and our house organized!!!

Yep, I'm the one who has just moved home, (only a bit of unpacking still to go), and then to keep life interesting, the in-laws are arriving shortly from interstate.

I am blessed to have support for while I am in hospital, with my family stepping in and helping dh & kids with meals, washing etc as I will be laid up for 4-6 weeks, so that part is not a problem.

Just need some focus to get me to the stage where I can be as prepared as practically possible........would love to hear from you :-)

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first, focus on you.

How mobile will you be? Will it be hard to get out of bed (as w/ abdominal surgery)? Can you get a bed rail, or a tall chair, or something to help you?

Will you need to be extra sure there aren't piles of stuff at the edges of the rooms to trip over? (ask me why this is on my list of questions...) What other changes to your physical environment will make life safer for you?

Then, think of things you routinely do that would be hard for a stranger to substitute for you in. Anybody can realize the living room needs dusting or the kids are out of underwear and laundry's on the to-do list. But will they remember to pay the utility bill? Or sign and mail back the car insurance thing? Will they know they have to call the Scout Master about whatever?

Sometimes even DH (or DW, depending which you are not) isn't really "plugged in" on that sort of stuff. In most marriages, there evolves a division of labor, and it's hard to remember the stuff you've delegated away. So take care ahead of time of the stuff that's been "delegated" to you, especially the stuff that isn't obvious.

Get caught up on all those sorts of things. Pay bills, etc. Call all organizations you're involved with and hand off duties, etc., to someone else in the organization.

Set up some sort of system to handle stuff like that while you're recuperating. So that you can just not think about them for a while.

Line up your sources of help, and provide them w/ the info they need. Phone numbers, directions to the physical therapist's office, etc. Especially think now of who you could turn to besides family. Get the number of a reliable cab service, a reliable babysitter, a neighbor who could come watch your kids if it were suddenly necessary, a restaurant or six that delivers, ditto a grocery.

Stock up on what's needed. If you prefer a specific brand of laundry soap, be sure there's tons available. If you want whoever's doing laundry to NOT dry anything knit, post a sign (better yet, put a label on the washing machine w/ a P-touch). Have plenty of toilet paper, cereal, pasta, so that there's less to run out of and less that you need to remember to buy.

And then let go of it all. There's no one right way to do stuff, and as long as no one dies and nobody goes hungry, then let stuff unfold. You can unpack after. Your MIL can buy toilet paper, or people can use paper towels and not flush them, if you run out of TP.

Things don't have to run perfectly. Everyone can make do. (I think the "getting people places on time" would be the part that's hardest in my own family; it would need the most arranging)

(you may find, even that in weeks 5 and 6, when you're mostly done recuperating but not quite, that smallish household tasks will make you feel better, mentally, without taxing you too much physically. I used the last week of recuperation to clean each individual key of the piano once; it was very satisfying, and helped me get warmed up for full activity)

Best of luck!

(it'll be interesting to see everyone's input. In a way, this is like preparing for the first few weeks at home w/ a baby--but not diapers. Well, I *hope* no diapers)

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:39AM
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Yes -- stock up on the basics -- from cleaning supplies to food. And everyday emergency items like bandaids and flashlight batteries.

Fill the freezer with bread or frozen items and dinners that would work for the family.

If necessary -- call in a maid service for that time period AND a lawn service. Worth every penny!!

Yes -- make lists of phone numbers. List the takeout food numbers too! Place large-print versions by each of the phones! Keep a written running list of your medicines AND the pharamacy phone number (is the pharmacy 24-hour?) AND if you have any allergic reactions to certain medicines or food.

Invest in a good walkie-talkie or even a baby monitoring system -- so you don't have to yell from the bedroom to the family room.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Talley ~

I hadn't thought along those lines of thinking about me! I guess the perfectionist in me is focusing in having the house totally unpacked, spic-n-span, cupboards stocked (overstocked!), etc......You are so right, do what I can, then 'let go of it all!' That's the bit I'll find a bit tricky! If things dont get done how I do them, it really doesn't matter, have to learn to not sweat the small stuff :) I appreciated all your suggestions.

Okay, 1 of your questions has me intrigued!! You wrote "Will you need to be extra sure there aren't piles of stuff at the edges of the rooms to trip over? (ask me why this is on my list of questions...)" C'mon tell!!!! - Looking forward to hearing more ;-]

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 4:44PM
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It's also tricky, sometimes, to identify the things that you "own"--that only you know about, and that you shouldn't let go of. We sometimes think that only we can buy groceries, but in fact, most people can feed a family. Maybe not as smoothly as you can, but they can certainly keep them from starving. Any idiot can clean a bathroom (OK, not any *idiot*, but lots of people).

And if they don't do it "your way," well, you can do it your way next time. So the laundry isn't folded the way that fits in the drawers--well, since that's the stuff you actually wear, you'll wear it again, and you can fold it right the next time.

But maybe only you can remember to pay bills, or can file the financial statements where they go. The hard part is identifying which are those things that you will do best (or maybe that only you will do).

As to the stuff at the edges of the rooms--well, in my house, that's what I end up w/ as a general rule. Even on a healthy day, this can be hazardous, or simply time consuming (more corners to turn, LOL). And there I am, after my C section, navigating around the laundry basket and the pile of books in my bedroom, having to move them out of the way before I can open the drawer, etc. Not smart, very frustrating. (My excuse is premature labor.)

Also--I don't know details for you, of course,, but I'm speaking from the experience of C-section operations. The first week is really hard. The second week is kind of hard. The fourth and fifth and sixth weeks are not so hard. I tired easily, but I could do some things. Not heavy lifting, but I could dust. Or I could unpack a single box in a day (maybe in stages on week 4, but probably almost like new on week 6).

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 5:20PM
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Thanks teacats! I love your suggestion about using the walkie-talkies!! I am off to our sons bedrooms to borrow theirs (shall do it now, otherwise I well could forget!), will have it all ready in my bedside (with spare batteries LOL) for when I come home from hospital ;-]

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 5:41PM
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I totally hear what you are saying! :)

I am going to use this time beforehand to concentrate on those things that really need doing, bill paying, filing etc, by the person who does them/knows how, when etc (ie - me!).

I figure this is one big way I can help make things run smoother while I am laid up, it will certainly make my mum's job easier while she is caring for my kids/me etc.
She is going to be busy enough without having the burden of those kind of things, not that she should have to anyway :-)

Thanks again for all your very helpful suggestions! It has been great to be able to re-focus again.....felt like I was in a bit of muddle (shock, possibly) and couldn't see clearly!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 6:04PM
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DH had major surgery this winter and was out of commission for several weeks. I found it difficult to take care of him as well as run both of our normal job duties. After you have everything set up for what you need, I would make a master daily list. Put everything in the order you normally do the tasks. Not that your mom won't know to unload the dishwasher, but a list of tasks will make it easier for her to point and say to whomever, "You can help by doing XYZ."

Have a daily/weekly chore list for each child. I have a list of all of the little stuff, liking making their beds and putting away laundry, to some rotating jobs like going out and picking the flowers off the dandelions so the seeds don't spread. That way they won't be able to easily argue with Grandma over what needs to be done. She can just point to the list.

Then I would make up a weekly list. Trash out on Wed. evening. Scouts on Thursday, etc. If there is specific information like which side of the driveway the trash needs to go on, then make note of that. Do a Google map of places like the ballfield if grandparents have to drive.

Put together a good list of dr. numbers, dentist, neighbors, etc. Phone # of childrens friends and note where they may play and where they aren't allowed to go. My mom would need a reminder that the bike is taken away if the child doesn't wear a bike helmet--that kind of thing which wasn't around when I was a kid. Make note if you have television or video game rules. My kids will push this to the max to get away with watching stuff that is a no no.

Have a list of activities your mom could do with the kids. Story time at the library, concerts in the parks, pool hours, etc. Museums, zoo trips, or even just going to a neighborhood park. Have maps if she'll need them.

Any last but not least. If someone offers to help, say YES! They wouldn't offer if they didn't want to help. Someone could always take a load of towels or sheets to their home to wash and save some work.

Good luck and let us know how you are doing post surgery.


    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 7:20PM
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I am in awe at the great advice so far. Not much I can add except to wish you well.

Maybe to figure out a bunch of bedbased projects? Necklaces to restring, haiku to write, knitting, MP3 playlists. And of course computer access. If you don't have a laptop, the family desktop needs to be set up on a cart and you get dibs!

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 7:22PM
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Thankyou, your tips are wonderful and I am taking them on board right now!!

I've just begun my master daily list!!! My mother will be sooooo thankful this list is made!

You guys are so helpful...... :) :) This has given me direction, I must admit that last night I only got 2 hrs sleep as there was so much rushing around in my mind, thinking about what I had to do and wondering how to do all I can so as to minimise the impact as much as possible on those nearest & dearest :)


I too am in complete awe of the great advice so far....and I absolutely love your thought of some ideas for some bedside projects.....very sweet of you :)

I would love some ideas for post op projects!!
After the op the back of my head will be bandaged for 2-3 weeks, so I wont be venturing very far from home, LOL!! Not a pretty sight ;-] So, it would be nice to have some things/ideas to do for when/if I am feeling like it, any that would not require a good deal of time/concentration. Short & sweet would be ideal! Kind of like a 2 year old LOL ;-]

Please feel free to keep those terrific ideas coming ;-]

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 8:08PM
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Not sure if you'd be comfortable with this but I've got just about all my regular bills on "autopay". They are either taken out of checking acct. or put on credit card. I pay my credit card balance each month so no interest charges are added. And my yearly summary breaks it all down into categories like health, entertainment, auto, etc. Love that. At least I can see where its gone.

I still get the bills, but they are only informational and say so. Makes it easy to check the bank statement and CC statement each month and know for sure everythings done and correct. And it frees my mind of having to get things paid on time (and sometimes, even find the bill I need to pay.) I've been doing this for many years and have never had a mistake or problem. I've recently gone a step further and getting statements by email. Less paper to deal with and saves trees.

Another good thing about that is it puts YOU in complete control and nobody else needs to have access to your financial business.

With all the other good info you've gotten it sounds like things will be running smoothly and you will be able to get the needed rest. Good luck and please check in when you can. Sandy

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 7:48PM
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Here's what I'll add from my experience of having lived through a major, house-wreaking, natural disaster:

Many people will say: What can I do to help? Or, Be sure to tell me if I can help. They really want to help, but probably are not going to be too good at identifying the kind of help that will really lighten your load.

So, be prepared for this and have a (real or just in your mind) list of things that will make a difference to you. When someone says this to you (and they surely will) be ready to say things like: "Could you bring the mail in from the box by the road every day this week?" Or, "my kids need to go to school and get their books turned in next Tuesday, can you take them with yours?". Or, "if I give you a list could you pick a few things at the store for me this weekend?" In short these are modest, but important, things to keep your household engine running smoothly.

After our house was smashed in a tornado, I think it was so hard for me (the ever self-suffiencient Mistress of My Household) to not automatically say no thanks, but thank you, anyway. I needed to learn to accept the proferred help. Plus I found it connected me emotionally to my larger community at a time when I felt traumatized by a run of very sad events (recent family deaths and lost-pet crises unconnected, but just prior, to the storm).

I remember, with extreme graitude, the perceptive person who realized that our day-to-day slog would be so much easier if he just came over and mowed the lawn. Of course, he had to mow around chunks of roof, tree debris and soaked-waiting-for-the-dumpster furniture, but at least we weren't also walking around with long, tick-infested grass grabbing at our ankles. Plus, even with the catastrophic mess that lay around us, it just felt more normal to have it tidily mowed.

Do what you can to prepare; take Talley-Sue's excellent advice to let things just be different, if necessary, from your usual practices, and be ready to ask for specific things when people offer. Think of it as being a blessing for them, because they will feel good for helping you out.

I wish you a very speedy recovery. You certainly seem to be a postive, energetic person which will serve you in good stead afterwards. I'm hoping that you will be able to get on here and let us know how you're doing, and maybe have some "free time" just to hang out.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 9:06PM
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So much great ideas! Swmbo, best wishes for a speedy recovery! Perhaps later in your recovery you could have PHOTOS as your bedside project. It needn't be as elaborate as putting them in albums (making the assumption based on my photos!) you could organize a stack in date/event order. Or write captions on the back. Or simply throw out the out of focus, worst, etc. WHAT?? Don't tell me you've already done this.... dear me, I am behind.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 9:48PM
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Lena M

Lots of great general advice here, for both helpees and helpers!

I also recommend AutoPay. I use it to pay all the bills I can, including credit cards. The only checks I write are for charities and the quarterly water/sewer bill. I've never had a problem (in 10 or so years) and one big plus is that my credit rating is stellar for consistent on-time payments.

best wishes,

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 9:52PM
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Tre3 ~

When I read your post op bedside project idea of going through photos.....I had to look over my shoulder to see if you were there :-) lol!
That is the very thing that could REALLY benefit from my time!!!
In fact, so inspired am I that I am going to dig into my VERY deep pile of pics and have some all ready waiting in the drawer of my bedside for when I am lazing at home afterwards, a real lady of leisure ;-) (Now all I have to do is find someone to feed me grapes whilst perusing all those piccy's...... :-) lol

Thanks for your great idea, I love it! It's quick, can be put down and picked up again and not too taxing on the ol' brain cells.

BTW ~ Thanks to everyone for all your good wishes ~ as my kids say "It gives me the warm fuzzies!" (as opposed to the cold pricklies!!)

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 7:20AM
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I love Molly and Gloria's advice about preparing the list of what normally gets done, so that when someone says, "what can I do to help?", you will have an idea of what to say.

And Molly, oh, what wise advice about feeling connected to your larger community at a time when it is crucially important. You said: "Think of it as being a blessing for them, because they will feel good for helping you out."

Accepting that help--indeed, requesting it, having specific suggestions for it--is a blessing for the entire COMMUNITY.

Molly was not the only one who needed to feel connected to her community in the aftermath of her disaster. Her neighbors may not have had the top half of their home blasted off the earth, but they probably felt as if they could have, easily. And being able to help Molly's family--and seeing OTHER people help Molly's family--made them feel safe, and secure, and connected.

The older I get (which in this case i think means "the more experienced at life I get," not "the crotcheted-ier I get"), the more I value the community around me, and the more I see how much value it adds to life. It *IS* what makes us human.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 9:53AM
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Maybe this has already been mentined and I missed it ... but I would have a list of necessary phone numbers for anyone who might need it. Your doctor, pharmacy, the veterinarian, the handyman, etc. so people not familiar with your area don't have to scramble if they need to contact someone.

I keep a collection of business cards so it's easy to locate a particular service, and often their hours of operation are printed on the cards too. I have them in a binder in those plastic sheets made for holding business cards, I think it's 10 to a page, purchased at an office supply store. I keep the binder in a low kitchen cupboard.

Molly, I was shocked to hear of your house in the tornado. That must be devastating.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:17PM
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I don't have much to add. I would recommend having cash on hand in case you need your neighbor to go buy groceries, order a pizza, etc.

Good luck on your recovery.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 2:35PM
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That's a good point, adellabedella. We have the U-scan things at our stores. Really nice that I can send one of the kids to get milk or bread and they can just use my credit card.

swmbo, my suggestion for post-surgery activities is to make a stop at the library for books on tape or CD. Our library has a great selection for all ages. One time I had the flu and couldn't even watch TV, but my son sat with me and we listened to a couple of stories on tape. I especially enjoy the kid stories. Not those ones with the page turner beep stuff, but the ones for kids from 3rd to 9th grade. Really good literature is available for that age group and you don't have to keep track of 25 characters. Your children could listen to them with you and that would help them to not feel so out of place at this time.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 7:39PM
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Are there any occasions that would come up over that time period that you would need b-day presents, cards, gift wrap etc.. maybe a few standbys..

When I had surgery back in September I started some major cleaning/purging... Why I felt compelled to do this.. I don't know, probably nerves and it kept my mind occupied but it made me feel better to know that it was done.

Pick up extra stamps/envelopes.

Post notes over washer/dryer of how you like things.. for instance, my girls don't like certain things put in the dryer so it's posted for everyone. Do the same for other parts of the house. Also make list of recycle days, garbage days, etc on your list.

Get a big desk calendar and write every dr appt, playdate, activity etc and leave out for everyone to see. Tell kids to always reference that before making plans.

Possibly put laundry basket in each room so when someone is doing laundry they don't have to guess who's it is.. We have 3 teenage girls and they each do their own laundry. I don't have to figure out what socks/underwear belong to who.

Maybe sign up for Blockbuster or Netflix during this time, will give everyone (mostly you) something to do that won't require inconveniencing anyone, kids can order online w/ you.. make the list before surgery.

Have a couple hundred dollars cash somewhere, kids always need $$ plus you will have for people when they run errands.

Pick up some extra nighties/bathrobe/sweatpants. Assuming you won't be very mobile you will have something new to wear.

Get extra bandages, I didn't have what I needed for my incisions so someone had to run out and get some. Stockup on ibuprofren/cold meds/vitamins.. etc.. Do you like puzzle books/crossword puzzle books?

But in the end your houseguests WANT to help you.. so even with all your planning and organizing and cleaning they are there to help you.. No doubt they will appreciate all your prep work but they are there to do all of the things that need to be done.

Leave cleaning supplies in each bathroom so there is no guessing to what you use or like done. Leave a couple rolls of papertowels under each sink. Your caretakers will appreciate that you have taken the guesswork out of what you like. Does everyone know where the clean sheets are? Towels?

Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 10:42AM
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I love the books on tape or CD idea. And there are plenty that could be enjoyed by children and adults. My favorite series is the one from "All Creatures Great and Small". Sweet, simple short stories on each tape about a country vet and the people and animals he encountered in his practice some time ago in (I think) English countryside.

I found it pleasant for long trips, because it passes the time without a great deal of concentration or having to remember what happened previously. Plus lots of good stopping points. Sandy

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 12:02PM
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This is an amazing list, helping in all kinds of situations.

I have one more topic to add that grows out of a professional project I'm working on. You didn't say how old your kids are but it may be very scary for them to have you laid up with bandages on. Make sure --even more than a clean bathroom and clean clothes--that you make occasions for special time for them to be with you and do whatever activities are appropriate for their age and your condition. Maybe even make special time for them separately. Try not to let anything interfere with those precious minutes you've blocked out for them. All the household infrastructure in the world will go for naught without your taking time to re-assure them you are still there for them.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 1:21PM
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OP said:
"After the op the back of my head will be bandaged for 2-3 weeks, so I wont be venturing very far from home, LOL!! Not a pretty sight ;-] "

Buy some pretty scarves if you don't already have some, which could be tied on to cover the bandages. Depending on the response of your family to the vulnerabilty you present, you might want to wear these when in the presences of your younger children, and/or out and about.

I like the last poster's suggestions to make sure to take time with the kids, individually and together. Do this before the surgery as well as afterwards. Oh, and it goes without saying - you and your husband need some quality alone time before and after, as well.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 2:21PM
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Nothing to add, just wanted to wish you well.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 1:00AM
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