The Holiday season is upon us and it’s “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” to plan our parties, our family gatherings, our fun traditions, and our…
Yep, that’s right.
December is often the best time to schedule a surgery because insurance benefits are set to expire in the new year and deductibles have been met.
I have had some experience in this department. Preparing for, going through, and recovering from any surgery is hard- but when you are a parent and it’s the holidays?
It’s SUPER haaaaaarrrrrrd.
So, if you are planning an upcoming surgery and you are a mom, I’m sure you are fretting over how you will be able to manage your kids during post-op recovery. Healing from any surgery can be difficult and painful, but add kids in the mix and it becomes overwhelming and often exhausting- both of which impede the process of healing. Besides worrying about your own health, you have to worry about taking care of your kids and helping them understand what you are going through.
Here are some important tips for moms facing surgery.
I hope this helps guide you through managing both your healing and your children during your post-recovery season…
PREPARING FOR YOUR ABSENCE
It’s important to sort through what can be cancelled in the upcoming weeks/months due to your limitations. It might be difficult to do this, but during this recovery season you want to simplify as much as possible. Let go of things you cannot cover or attend, sooner than later. Please don’t think you can do allthethings despite your recovery. You can’t. Lower your expectations and accept that this is not the time to ‘show up’ but rather decline. If there are specific responsibilities you must keep, add them to the following lists and allow others to step in for you.
After you are able to clear your calendar, it’s time to compile a detailed list of parenting responsibilities and another list of friends and family who would be willing to help. On your list, provide the contact numbers of the people taking on that task for future reference. (Many moms have husbands/partners/significant others who would step in to cover many of the responsibilities, but this person can’t do it all. Clarify what they can cover first, then start your lists.)
This is where you must be realistic and bold in asking for help with all the parenting tasks and duties you can no longer do while you heal.
You will have to release your kids to the care of others which is never easy to do. You will have to surrender your grip of control in how your home is run and accept these changes as well. It will be frustrating at times, knowing you could do things more efficiently, so acceptance and flexibility on your part is critical to your own mental health and wellness. This is the time for self care, and prioritizing your healing will be hard, but necessary.
Remind yourself often, that this is temporary and you will be back up and running your house and caring for your kids soon. The more you are able to allow yourself to rest and heal, the sooner this recovery season will end.
If you have already had surgery, you can still take action to sort through all these tasks and assign these important jobs to people immediately.
Some of the major areas you want to tackle:
- List all the daily parenting tasks and coverage you need for your kids. Rides to school, care and supervision at home, etc. Also list any important family obligations, and activities you have kept on your calendar during the time of your recovery.
- List all the regularly attended small groups, school clubs, sports, meetings, church groups, etc. that need to be covered in your absence. If you have any volunteer obligations, list those too.
- List all friends and family with phone numbers who are willing to help with those specific obligations.
- List the household chores that need to be done: meals, laundry, cleaning, lawn care, etc
- List grocery items and other products you will need during your recovery time. (ie: Fruit, milk, bread, veggies, detergent, diapers, etc.)
- List all the friends and/or services needed to complete specific duties.
HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS AND TASKS:
- List all the festivities that are taking place during the upcoming month and decide what can be cancelled.
- List the important events your kids must attend. (ie: Band concerts, plays, church events, social gatherings etc.)
- List the chores, tasks, gift shopping, etc. that must be done in order to have a successful holiday. (Gift wrapping, house decorating, family traditions, cooking/baking/cleaning etc)
- List the people who can help with each of these and their contact numbers.
Here is one sample:
- KIDS: Rides to and from school
- M/W/F: Aunt Mary (614) 564-3343
- T/TH: Janet (614) 223-4433
Talk to your kids.
Depending on the age group of your kid/s, you will want to share age appropriate details as to what is going to happen and how your recovery will look in the weeks ahead. You might want to bring them to your pre-op and post-op doctor appointments if it is appropriate. You can include them in your pre-surgical preparations and educate them on the medical aspect of your surgery and prognosis. Perhaps check out some books from the library to read to your kids about your condition, or read them your doctor’s pamphlets on the details of your surgery. Do as much as you can to involve them in this process, so they can be prepared for this post surgical season ahead. Include them in your care as much as possible, so they feel as though they are in this with you and have a part in your recovery. Remember that they will be affected by your experience and praising them for their assistance, patience, and understanding will make a world of difference!
Your kids count on you for everything and they might have a difficult time adjusting to your limitations. They will need constant assurance that you will be okay, no matter their age. Be realistic about your prognosis when talking to them, but assure them that ‘mom’ is still inside your healing body. If they see you in pain, notice your wounds, or struggle with any of your experience, reach out to them to discuss their feelings and affirm and comfort their struggles just by listening with empathy. They want their old mom back, so regularly remind them that this is temporary and offer new ways they can help you with your healing.
The more your kids are on board, the better. Have ongoing discussions about the changes in how things will operate without your help. Be specific in daily tasks, and tell them who will be carrying them out in your place. If at all possible, allow them to make some of the decisions in their care. (Would you like aunt Linda or Uncle Ben to take you to school?) Your kids will need time to acclimate to every change, so inform them as early as possible of upcoming changes. Then remind them often! (ie: “Remember, Grammy is going to take you to the holiday craft show this year! You guys will have a ton of fun!” )
Let them know the things you can STILL do during your recovery. (ie: read books, watch movies, color, snuggle etc.) Assure them you will still be present, but you will need time to rest and heal so you can get back to being an active mother again. The more kids know about your circumstance and how it will impact them, the better. Remember they need structure and predictability in their lives. Both can still happen, despite your limitations. It will just look very different with new people caring for them in different ways than mom. Kids can be flexible and resilient, encourage both and present the changes as new and fun opportunities for them to experience!
The truth about how it’s gonna go.
This season will be difficult for you, mom. Like really hard.
Deep breaths, mama. You can do this. You MUST do this. And your kids are watching, so there’s that. It’s hard enough to be in pain and feel helpless in your situation of being wounded and broken, let alone feeling responsible for your children’s welfare.
You will ugly cry and moan in pain. You will swear and yell and curse your body during your lowest points in this process. You will get angry when you are unable to do allthethings you used to do. You will get irritated at how others do what you used to do. You will try to do too much and regret it. You will sob like a baby when you realize all your missing out on. You will be so exhausted, you will hardly be able to pay attention to your kid reading his book for the 324th time. You will sleep a lot. You will NOT GET A DAMN THING DONE. Please don’t expect to do anything else, but heal and try to be present for your kids when you can. That’s it. You will have a hard enough time just doing that. Promise.
It’s okay for your kids to see you when you’re a bubbling, steaming hot mess. They will survive, rebound, recover- just like you will too. They are resilient.
And so are you.
Just know that it’s okay to cry. Whine. Moan. Yell. Cry some more. Freak OUT. Get angry. Feel sad. Hate everything and everyone. Hate your body. Hate this existence. Feel desperate, discouraged, depressed.
You must pull yourself out of those bottomless pits before you fall down too far, okay?
Truth is- you have a family who needs you. So rise, mama. Your strength IS ALIVE AND WELL WITHIN. You may not *feel* strong, but you have reserves you don’t know about that will come through in your darkest day. It’s fierce- this strength. It comes from the deepest part of you. It’s called #Survival.
So, pull yourself out of the pit by your fingernails, if you have to. Scratch and scrape your way right up those walls of pain and hopelessness and fear, then breathe in the air outside of your deep well of despair- because up where your family is living and functioning without you? Well, that’s where you will find love, joy, hope, and light. Reach hard and long and hard and long again for it every single day.
Don’t lose yourself in this. Don’t lose sight of all you hold dear, for the sake of your physical pain and limitations.
This is temporary. Say it out loud every time you start to slip back into the pit.
THIS is temporary.
Your family, your joys, your purpose, your life- are preserved and protected through this season.
Hold on, mama.
Be patient and kind to yourself.
All will be restored in time.
*And one more thing*
I’d love you to offer you more encouragement through my book. It’s a little nifty girlfriend’s guide to your recovery. I hope and pray it gives you help and hope while you’re healing.
You can purchase it on Amazon by clicking on the book image or HERE.
*Additional posts on surgery and recovery*