Just say “NO.” -Nancy Reagan
That’s all I wanted to say, was “NO.” When it comes to household chores and activities I’m not your typical male. I can cook, clean, do above average general home repairs (I finished my own basement), laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills and I’ve even been known to bake once in a blue moon. I can look forward to many things each and every day. What I didn’t look forward to was planning meals. I’m a manager of teams and volunteers but I could not wrap my head around what are we going to have for supper for the next 5-7 days! Now being a typical dad, when mom goes out for a night or a few days, I will settle on pizza, BBQing, McDonald’s and all the other typical dad meals when mom is not home. Like most dad’s, I will threaten my brood into silence about not telling mom what we have eaten while she was away. It sometimes works, but most times doesn’t.
The problem with this recent situation was that my wife was going into hospital for somewhere between 4-6 weeks. I don’t think I could handle the typical dad meals for more that three days let alone for 4-6 weeks. What was I going to do?
I pulled a a group of close friends and family together, four couples in all, and we talked over dinner and put a plan together. All of this took place before my wife went in to hospital so that she could be part of the discussion but also so that she could rest in hospital knowing her family was being taken car of as well. This group became our advocacy team and spoke on behalf of my family situation to others and communicated on our behalf as well.
Here’s what we decided:
- One night a week @ friends for dinner.
- One night a week a meal would be brought over. (more were brought over and stored in our freezer)
- this group also provided gift cards for gas, groceries, restaurants, coffee, and many other things that they collected from others.
Now that took care of two nights a week but what about the other 5? I decided to pull a cook book off the shelf and what I didn’t realize was that this book was going to revolutionize my meal planning life in a way I had never imagined.
This book gives you 10 weeks of recipes for 5 days. Now the portion size is for a larger family than my three but we had left overs and loved 95% of all the meals in here. Now the best part of this book is that it also gives you a shopping list for that week. The only things that I had to do was add anything else to the list that we needed as well as take anything off the list that we already had in the house. It was that easy.
Each recipe tells you how long it should take from prep to table. Let’s you see how it should look (I never achieved this one). Some meals needed preparation the night before but most didn’t. And it gets better!
Sandi Richard has multiple books. And it gets better!
When you go to her website: Cooking for the Rushed, click on the grocery list tab and you can download and print the grocery list for that week off your printer. It is in PDF form and I would have loved one I could edit but that’s a convenience I can live without.
Now we have a life threatening allergy in our home so I would have to substitute or just subtract some items but anything you do for your family needs to fit them.
As a family we would rate the meals as “Keepers or Jeepers.” Keepers we would have again and Jeepers we would mark in the book so we would not make it again.
As a family we would not follow these meals everyday. We always had a frozen pizza we could use or go out for convenience to McDonald’s. What this system did for me was simplify things on an ongoing basis. Something I didn’t like to do in the past, I know enj.
Parenting tip: I would not make multiple meals for anyone in our home no matter what age they were. What I made, we ate. I was not going to be a short-order cook for anyone. If they went to bed hungry, they always had a big breakfast the next day and they learned to eat what was prepared.
In the midst of some of the most busiest time in our family life the past few weeks I sat and stared and stared at my computer screen with a blank stare. I was looking at four words that were penetrating my inner soul more than I had expected. The four words were part of a larger email sitting in my in-box and I was literally frozen.
Refuel, Retool, Refresh, Reconnect.
I’ve come to realize one thing about being a full-time caregiver that I have needed in my life and I have had to protect it above anything my care-receiver, my family, my faith (okay maybe not that much but you get the point). I need to have space in my life.
Space needs to be nothing. Nothing scheduled, nothing to-do, nothing to watch, nothing to read, nothing to volunteer for, NOTHING! The reason is this: if I am operating at 99-120% then I have no space for the unexpected as a caregiver. Let me explain further. My wife, whom I am a full-time caregiver for, was recently admitted into hospital due to an infection. Now an infection is really serious after her BMT (bone marrow transplant). She was in hospital for 7-days and life at home continued in its normal rhythm. I needed space in my life to drive to the hospital for visits and adjust my work schedule minimally but I still needed to have that space. Once my wife came home, which was yesterday, I needed to have that space for runs to the pharmacy, home-care nurse to come into our home, making alternate plans for our 3 year old to go to friends houses.
Now the unexpected is always going to happen and I can never fully prepare for those times in my lives. What I need to do is allow space to exist in my life as a caregiver. I cannot keep calling and canceling or rescheduling plans. That is an added stress and leaves me running on fumes and exhausted. If that happens without space being in my life it will impact my caregiving, my family, my relationships, my health, and so much more.
So the answer I have found is simplicity. Keep my schedule simple, keep my family meals (and prep) simple. By keeping things simple I’m able to focus, concentrate and make informed decisions. Even though I hate not being busy and joggling many things at once. By keeping things simple I am a better person and through this season of caregiving, my family gets me 100% of the time without distractions.
What has happened in your lifetime? I remember doing an interview of a dear friend that called Grandma Ferwada for a grade 5 assignment. We talked about her life and all that she experienced in her lifetime. I was amazed at the things but here is a brief overview of our conversation; she was born in the late 1800′s, she exprienced the War to End All Wars ( World War 1), the Great Depression, World War 2, the hype/mockery around the horseless carriage, glass milk bottles, no plastic, radio to tv, the evolution of the telephone, birth and growth of Canada, birth/death, family tragedy & celebration. All of this, and so much more, in her lifetime.
Here’s one thing that I want to expreience in my lifetime!
Bone Marrow Transplant Day+12.
The doctors have said that if all goes according to plan (who are we kidding) then Heather could come home on Day+20-30. That is great news! I’m tired of answering Nathan’s two dominant questions; 1) When is mommy coming home? Me: Soon! [That's all I can say, he has no concept of days], 2) I want my mommy daddy! Now I realize that this last one is not a question as it is more a verbal cry of his heart. When I was young, I cried for my mommy with the best of them. Nathan has a heart felt need for his mommy, and that’s FANTASTIC! The Smyth boys have been doing really well even though we have both been sick and the end is in sight. You see, in order to visit Heather you need to be symptom free from colds for a minimum of 3-days/72hrs. So I have not been able to see Heather since Thursday, November 26th. If this cold gets out of my system today I should be able to see Heather this weekend, December 4-6. Over a week later!
Nathan and I were out buying a Christmas present for his uncle Paul. We made an adventure of it. Once in the store we wandered and played hide-n-seek. Quick Tip: When you are in the Plasma/LCD TV section of a store, don’t play hide-n-seek. Crash! I’m not saying any more. So we walk towards the cashier and you have to walk past all the gadgets/toys and chocolate bars. What does Nathan start asking for? A chocolate bar! “Daddy, can I have a chocolate bar?” Me: No Nathan, you don’t need a chocolate bar. [Pause] Nathan: I know I don’t NEED a chocolate bar, I WANT a chocolate bar! Now wanting to show my extraordinary parenting skills to the teenage cashier serving me I turn to Nathan and say in a matter of fact tone, “Nathan, I WANT a new car. You give me a new car, you can have a chocolate bar.” So there! I turned back to the cashier with a proud smile on my face because of my victory over a 3 year old. YES!
Then it happens.
Nathan reaches up, touches my hand and says, “Here you go daddy.” With just four little words I knew I was either in trouble or I had been successfully defeated by a 3 year old.
I looked down and there he was with a confident look on his face. I then looked at his had that was touching mine. There in his hand was the brand new HotWheels car that he had received the day before from friends. I took the car from him, looked at it, looked back at him in astonishment. Nathan then said, “can I have my chocolate bar daddy!?!” I looked at the cashier, looked back at Nathan and said to him, “Yes, you can go get your chocolate bar.” He ran as fast as he could, got his peanut free Mars bar and came back.
Now as any good parent, I’m willing to admit that I was defeated, in public, by my 3 year old. But as any wise parent I kept the car. I put it on my dresser as a trophy of defeat. Three days later Nathan see’s the car sitting on my dresser and says, “Is that the car I traded for my chocolate bar?” Me: Yes Nathan, it is. Nathan: That was a good trade daddy!
So each day I look at that car I’m reminded that it will not be the last time that I am bested by my son. It also showed me that that if Nathan could make it happen for something that he wanted, he was willing to part with a new toy and not ask for it again. What an entrepreneur.
Many of you have been asking all about the bone marrow transplant procedure that Heather will be having on Wednesday. Questions like:
- Is it surgery for Heather?
- How do the get the bone marrow from the donor?
- What is the bone marrow transplant procedure?
I’ve attached a brief 5-minute video on how they get bone marrow from the donor. If you look closely, the presenter holds a bag of bone marrow up as a display. The rest of the video is about harvesting bone marrow from a donor.
ht to TED Talks