After being gone for two weeks to be with my daughter before, during and after her mastectomy and partial reconstructive surgery, I have gleaned some ideas for this post which I would like to pass on to all guys, not just those who are experiencing the role of Mr. Mom on behalf of their loved one fighting breast cancer.
Calendar. Use a calendar for everything. Dr. appointments, Reminders, Cleaning Day, notes to pick up dry cleaning, menu or meals provided by so and so. (This will come in handy for thank you notes.) I know your loved one usually keeps these things straight for you, but they may get confused. After all, they will be on some serious pain medications.
Charts. We used a drug chart produced on an Excel spreadsheet in order to keep the drugs straight. There were some that we gave her every 3 hours, some every 8 hours, some 3 times a day and one we gave 2 in the morning and 2 at night. The rest we gave her before bed. Good luck keeping them straight without some type of chart!
Remain calm. Take deep breaths. Blow away the instinct to become overwhelmed. Your stress will be felt by your loved one and it will be harder for them to deal with than any of the pain they feel. It will actually make them feel worse. They are used to doing these things for you and you may or may not realize what all they actually do to ensure your life is easier and your home is your castle.
Leftovers are great, if you will eat them. It helps to keep a mental (or physical) calendar and eat the oldest foods first. (I know, pizza trumps stir fry, but it will still be there. So, eat the stir fry for lunch and the pizza for dinner.) Rule of thumb, if it's older than you can remember, better throw it out.
Mail contains mostly junk that can go right into the garbage without even opening. I sort it on my way back from the mailbox and walk immediately to the shredder. Yes, we shred. No one would want to be us, but again, I err on the safe side. It's just not worth the hassle if someone does steal your identity.
Before opening another jar of taco sauce or another bag of taco chips, please look to see if there isn't one already open. I know, it may mean bending down and searching through everything in the refrigerator, but take that as your cue to clean out any lost or forgotten, but hopefully not moldy yet, items.
Dishes, believe it or not, do not wash themselves. I have discovered that it is so much easier and a lot less overwhelming if I wash them right away. Those sponge scrubbers with the soap in the handle are a God-send. After I eat, I scrub the dishes and put them on the mat to dry. It certainly beats waiting until you can't find the bottom of the sink or the food has dried on the plates or silverware.
Flower water needs to be changed every few days otherwise the stems will start to rot and it will stink. It will also help those roses to perk up and last longer. We want them to give your loved one a lift for as long as we can. Someone paid good money for those beauties.
How do we remember to water our plants? Scheduling is the secret. It's usually a once a week affair. I personally like to water on my cleaning day. I have to move them to dust anyway. Use the calendar to remind you, if need be.
Dust? Clean? OK, so you are not worried about dust or a few hairs on the toilet. Maybe just a quick wipe with a wad of toilet paper will help your wife look past the fact that she hasn't been able to clean it. Another quick fix is to take the hand towel (which needs to be replaced regularly) and wipe out the sink and the counter.Then wipe off the top of the toilet. See? It gets dusty and hairy too! These two little hints take so little time, but will really be helpful.
Speaking of cleaning, I received a text from one of my readers (who read yesterday's post) informing me that there is help. Cleaning for a Reason is a nonprofit organization that provides house cleaning services to help women fighting any type of cancer. There's even one close to my daughter.