Month: March 2017
I don’t know where I got the idea that I had to do this all myself. Even when I was married, I got the idea somewhere that I had to be good at everything – parenting, housework, cooking, work, etc – even when I knew that was unrealistic.
Having two chronically ill children, adds so many extra tasks and responsibilities, it’s just not possible for one person to do this, but for some reason, I felt I had to! Crazy, I know.
The biggest issue I’ve had lately is asking for help. Maybe that’s over-simplifying the issue… I know I need help, I just haven’t known what help to ask for! I have a great support network who ask if there are things they can do, but I haven’t known what to ask them for.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about this more and come up with a list. This can apply to parents of chronically ill children, as well as any parent who is feeling overwhelmed and needs some help.
- Meals – these are always useful and welcome, however check first before dropping something around, unless it can be frozen!
- Groceries – sometimes I struggle to get to the supermarket to stock the cupboards with staple items such as milk, eggs, bread, and snacks to feed two growing teenagers! Delivering a box of groceries would be appreciated, again, check first to see what items are needed and if there are any dietary issues.
- Housework – I know that this is one of the first areas to slip when life gets tough. Often it’s not so much having the time, but having the energy to tackle that pile of clean washing, scrub the bathroom, or do the vacuuming. Before tackling the cleaning, ask what are the areas that are causing the biggest headaches and start there, or even provide the family with a cleaner for a few weeks.
- Transport – are you in a position to pick up or drop off kids to school or other activities? This could be very helpful meaning parents don’t have to do all the driving. There may also be some medical appointments where Mum or Dad doesn’t have to be there but the kids are unable to get there themselves.
- Money – having chronically ill kids is expensive! There are medical appointments, parking at the hospital, medication, mobility aids, dietary requirements, and more that parents need to pay for. Sometimes there can be a choice between getting a prescription filled and doing a large supermarket shop!
- A listening ear – parents of chronically ill children are bombarded with advice. Some of the best assistance I’ve received is from people who are just happy to let me talk and get out all the stress over a cup of coffee, or ice cream! These friends will just listen without offering advice, and it’s usually accompanied with a hug and some tissues!
- Home Maintenance – this could include anything from offering to mow the lawn and weed the garden, to taking the car for a service or fixing things around the house. These are often bigger tasks that can be hard to organise, even calling a handyman to do some of these jobs is just one more thing that parents need to do but often get pushed down the list.
- Something fun – for us, getting out and doing something just for fun, like going out for dinner or to see a movie, rarely happens. These can be a strain on already stretched finances and something else to spend energy on. Offering to take the parents, kids, or the whole family out for a fun activity or giving a voucher for movie tickets or similar, will be most appreciated.
I’m sure there are other things you can add to the list, and I’m sure it will grow as I think of things too.
What things have been the biggest help to you and your family? What would you add to the list?
When Zac was going through a course to help him with his ME/CFS, he learned about finding a good baseline to help. This included school, activity, and rest. At the time I thought this was a good lesson for everyone, and something everyone in my family needs…
At this point in time, it has been hard to find a base line that works for the whole family, but it’s something we are working on.
Right now, my younger son attends school four days a week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday is a rest day for him, and a day he can catch up with homework. He also has a reduced work load so he has rest periods during the day.
For my older son, we are working on a routine for school. We are hoping this will start with classes the last two periods of the day, and lunchtime, every day, but it’s a goal right now.
With the boys school routines set, it will mean that I should be able to do my work hours. Unfortunately, this will mean that my lunch breaks will be spent driving kids around, but it will mean that my hours at work should settle.
I feel that once we have the school/work routine sorted, we can start adding things such as regular physio appointments and extra curricular activities to get them into a routine as well.
From everything I’ve read, a routine is important to a good baseline…. it’s a work in progress, but I’m sure we will get there.