This is the 4th and final part to our series Homeschooling On Bed Rest.
Possible Areas of Help:
– Drive children to or home from essential, regular activities (this can be two separate individuals and preferably should be ones who will be there, or nearby there at that time anyways)
– Drive you to appointments on occasion
– Have play dates with your children
– Conduct a learning cooperative at your home (especially if they have children in your grade) for select subjects
– Pick up groceries (find someone who shops at your store of choice and won’t be inconvenienced greatly by adding your items to their cart); consolidate your items to one store, if possible, even if it costs a bit extra
– Source local restaurant delivery menus
– Sleep overnight at your home (if you are alone and need someone to tend to your children when you can’t get up)
– Receive and deliver parcels (perhaps a neighbour, someone who shares your post office box location, or a nearby friend who is home a lot)
– Bring or make meals occasionally or on a rotating schedule
– Tidy your home (especially bathroom, kitchen and dishes)
– Wash and fold laundry (can be picked up and done at their homes instead of yours)
– Pick up or deliver your mail
– Bring garbage to the curb and the empty bins back to your home (an offence warranting a ticket in most areas)
– Assume responsibility to schedule all help
Create A Potential Resource List – The first step to arranging help is to create a resource list to include those people who have already offered help and those you consider might be able to (family, close friends, neighbours, homeschool support group, church family, moms of children your kids share activities with already). If you are unsure of the duration of your bedrest, it’s reasonable to stage the list so that unlikely candidates and friendly acquaintances, for instance, will only contacted at a set point when it becomes absolutely necessary. Then, send out an initial contact informing those people of your situation, the scope of what you are asking of them (regular, scheduled weekly, occasional), best contact method (is email okay or would an occasional phone call be better?) and the likely duration of the need. If possible, ask specific tasks of people instead of sending a blanket request for help. If doing this exceeds your ability, makes you uncomfortable or the need will likely be for an extended time, feel free to ask someone to arrange the scheduling for you – but make sure this is the only task you ask of them. Once individuals have responded, you may find it necessary to set up a group email distribution group or an online public shared calendar that you are included on. Make sure that the contact is routine and to a minimum so as to avoid overwhelming people, bearing in mind they have their own full lives too. As an added benefit, this list can later be used to send out thank you cards to those who have provided help.
Maximize Your Help – The most labour intensive times of day with children surround meals and bedtime. If you are able to schedule help, try to work it around these times. While they are there, hopefully they will be able to arrange to prepare for the next meal at the same time and save someone else a trip.
A Few Other Tips:
Use Disposable – Arrange for disposable plates and utensils, as well as recyclable juice containers if you can. If people volunteer to bring meals, request it come in a disposable container as well. Even better is for the meals to come individually plated or packaged, which allows your children to be better, able to get their own food and reheat it, if necessary. Not only does this save you the effort of returning the dishes and prevent a cluttered pile of dishes to be returned, it saves you from the formidable task of getting your dishes washed and put away.
Set Up Timers – Unless you want to be left in the dark, and particularly if you have small children, consider asking someone to set up a timer to turn on the lights at sunset and to turn off automatically around bedtime
Get extra keys made – If you have regular help or people dropping by, they will either need to let themselves in or you may find your door needs to be perpetually unlocked. If they are to let themselves in, it’s helpful to let them know at the time of making the arrangements what to do (“Knock once and then walk in” or “Use the spare key hidden inside the BBQ lid to let yourself in, then return it right away so it doesn’t get forgotten”).
Create a Suggested Menu – People will not likely be aware of your family’s allergies, intolerances, likes and dislikes. There is no point in accepting the kind offer to provide a meal if your children (or you) are unwilling to eat what they offer. Even if your spouse takes on this job, unless it is their usual responsibility, they will be unlikely to know what to prepare. If you will be alone at mealtimes and your children are unable to heat the meals independently, think of a lot of sandwiches, wraps and salads. Do everyone a favour and create a suggestion list with a variety of meals people can bring or make based on what you have in your home.
Avoid Constipation – People on bed rest run an increased risk for constipation and hemorrhoids. Practical steps you can take are drinking lots of water, including fibrous food such as kiwis and prunes on your grocery list, keeping your legs moving and giving yourself extra time in the bathroom when it your schedule affords it.
Have Payment Ready – Keep a good amount of small bills, coins and cheques on hand to immediately reimburse those who are making purchases for you and to offer to those who are doing things for you that come out of their fixed monthly budget (i.e. extra gas money to drive).
Keep On-Going Lists – For instance, of groceries and to-do items to avoid being overwhelmed and doing last minute things. Being on bed rest is out-of-control and helpless feeling as it is without feeling like you are constantly forgetting things. Be prepared right away if someone offers help.
Utilize Technology – although your children do not likely have free access to electronics normally, they may become your greatest asset. You need your energy to stay healthy and unless you want to be stuck with the possibility of constantly entertaining your children (or mediating between them), it may be useful to create an alternative for yourself by making available a suitable offering of videos, television programs and suitable websites.
If you do find yourself on bed rest at some point, I hope you can look back and say that this information was of use to you. And, if you come to know someone who is in need, it is my hope that if you have extra of something, you will give. And perhaps you can use this information to help that person to set up a sustainable method of caring for their needs.
– Miriam Hill
Miriam is a homeschooling mom to 3 beautiful girls!