Parenting is hard. On its best days, it's light and joyful. On average days, it works you to the bone. And on the worst days, it can crush your soul and rob you of your sense of self, taking every ounce of energy you have. I'm blessed with a terrific trio of kids and a rock-solid spouse, but we are no strangers to tragedy. (The patient to the left had a finger amputated in a doorway at daycare! Fear not, he's now fine.) We've had more than our share of hospitalizations and family emergencies. Along the way, I've learned a few things I hope can help my clients. I share these tips because I am regularly surprised to find out that my clients are managing a significant injury while trying to keep everything "the same," and it's horrible for them.
When you or your partner are hurt, the most important thing you should do is get better as quickly as possible. That means sleep, rest, and probably a bunch of doctor's appointments. Staying on top of work and keeping your household going can be a major obstacle on the road to a speedy recovery. Move everything you can off your plate AND your partner's plate because your partner is carrying a heavy load too. Are you hurt and he's the grocery shopper? Outsource, because he's running bedtime (or whatever other jobs you do that you can't outsource).
- Groceries - Amazon, Peapod, Instacart - the options are endless. And no, they probably won't choose produce as well as you do. But if they send bruised produce or broken eggs to your house, they will give you your money back.
- Laundry - did you know your neighborhood drycleaner probably does laundry by the pound? Bag up the kids’ necessities and let a neighbor do the drop off and pick up. There are even services like Rinse that provide home pickup and delivery service.
- Housekeeping - yes, it's really nice for someone to clean your bathroom for you. Perhaps even a luxury. But honestly, recovering in a dirty house isn't fun and you have enough to do. Outsource, even if it's just once.
- Mother’s or Father's helpers - if you have young kids, hire a local teenager to help. Or get a teen relative to come over to play. Your kids will love it so much they won’t even notice you’ve said no to Candyland! A pair of 13-year-old twin girls were lifesavers when I had 3 kids under 3 (two were nursing!), when I needed knee surgery. Younger teens are great because their schedules are flexible, and they can entertain younger kids, unload the dishwasher, and give you a huge mental break. Plus, they are way more cost effective than day camps or a temporary nanny.
- Lawn care – If you maintain your own yard, consider paying someone to mow, rake leaves, and pull weeds. You will feel better knowing your lawn isn’t becoming the neighborhood eyesore while you are recovering.
- Carpool - arrange carpools for your kids’ activities, and offer to pay for the drivers’ gas.
- Doggie Camp - if getting the dog walked is pushing your family to the brink, consider boarding the dog for a few days. There are tons of options. We've relied on Rover or Wag in a pinch.
- Play dates - get the kids out of your house and a few moments of peace and quiet by asking friends to host play dates. Even an hour of uninterrupted rest time can work wonders and restore your patience.
- Meals – if someone wants to help, ask them to set up a meal train for friends, family, and neighbors to sign up for a day to bring you dinner. Make your kids buy school lunch (it’s guaranteed to be nutritious, if not yummy).
- A word on snacks: When 3/5 of my family had covid, a friend dropped off bags of groceries that were totally outside of my norm, like individual frozen dinners, canned soups, sandwich supplies that were not my usual, and pre-cut fruit and veggies. The kids minds were BLOWN when I told them to “make your own dinner.” They loved it. And when mom or dad are hurt, getting kids’ bellies full without a lot of effort is a win.
Importantly, track those costs! I want my clients to get a complete financial recovery, and that means reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs. If you don't keep track of them, I can't make a demand for your reimbursement.
Let. It. Go.
All of it. The kids can wear the princess costumes to school as dresses. Kindergarten teachers LOVE seeing kids in backwards, inside out shirts. I promise - it "fosters independence." The child on the left? Mine. This was once the best I could do for appropriate winter apparel when it was freezing, SMH. He thought he was a fire fighter and I was too tired to argue. Dental appointments can be rescheduled (or let a friend take the kids for cleanings). Let kids put away all the laundry, but skip folding. Homework? Honestly, unless your kids are in middle school or older, SKIP IT. I promise, it’s okay. Dirty car? Weeds in the yard? Unsorted recycling? Order more socks and underwear with “subscribe and save” so you don't have to do laundry. Stock up on dry shampoo and wash your hair less. Let go of everything that isn't directly connected with your recovery.
Have the Hard Conversations with your Partner
When you are co-parenting kids, most of the time, both adults are doing their absolute most. Some days "most" is less than your best, but off days or weeks are a part of life. Some days you probably think your "most" is way more than your spouse's most. It’s one of the hardest things parents have to navigate within marriages. But when you're hurt and one spouse has to pick up the slack, acknowledging that they are doing their best is essential.
If you're not the parent that is injured, you recognize intellectually that your partner can't carry their typical workload. And still, it is REALLY hard to carry a double workload day in and day out, and feeling resentful or angry is totally normal. If you ARE the parent that is injured, it's really hard to watch your non-chef partner make a barely edible dinner for the family because they didn't follow your instructions, even though intellectually you know they are doing their best and trying to help you.
So, acknowledge it all. "I see how hard you are working to cover my chores so I can rest. Thank you." Or, "I'm about to do the kids' hair and it's not going to look very good and let's all pretend it looks fabulous." Simply acknowledging a partner's struggle can go a long way in keeping the peace and coming out the other side of an injury bonded in your shared struggle.
If you’ve been injured and would like Allyson to talk you through your options or to take a look at what insurance coverages are at play, please call. 202-949-7109