How To Ensure Your Household Runs Smoothly After an Injury

There has been a lot of buzz in the blogosphere lately about the toll that “emotional labor” takes on women — specifically, on women who are wives and mothers. Not only do these women shoulder their fair share of the actual household labor, like cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring kids to and fro, and otherwise making sure that every aspect of the family’s life runs like clockwork, but they are often also obliged to micromanage everyone else’s contributions.

Mom is the one who calls the doctor and dentist to book appointments. She makes sure the kids are doing their homework, brushing their teeth, and staying safe on the Internet. She makes a “honey do” list for Dad. She notices when supplies are low, writes out the grocery list, orders birthday presents for the kids’ friends’ parties, sends the Christmas cards, organizes the vacation…on and on, ad infinitum.

Sound familiar? This phenomenon, also known as “invisible labor,” takes a toll on Mom’s sanity. It also means that when she is ill or sidelined by an injury, an ordinarily ship-shape household can come to a grinding halt.

Luckily, there are a few ways to stay on track and avoid the chaos. Read on to learn some sanity-saving hacks to implement in the wake of an injury.

Let the Dust Bunnies Be

Recovering from a broken limb or other serious injury, in this scenario, is a lot like having a newborn. To save your peace of mind, it’s necessary to ease up on your usual standards. So what if the laundry doesn’t get folded immediately after it’s taken from the dryer — or ever? Kids can choose their clean clothing right from the basket. (Hey, at least the clothes are clean.)

A few meals of boxed mac-n-cheese or fast food aren’t going to hurt anyone in the long run. And it might be necessary to let the kids spend a little more time than usual playing games on a tablet or smartphone.

Recruit Some Helping Hands

Notice that we said “a few meals.” If your spouse’s cooking skills are limited to buttered toast and microwave burritos, or if you are a single mother, you’re going to need some help.

Remember all those people who said “Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you” when they heard about your accident? Send them the link to a meal-organization website like Meal Train, where they can sign up to bring you and your family delicious dinners. Don’t be afraid to post a cry for help on Facebook, either.

Maybe you’re the kind of mom who always has a few weeks’ supply of balanced meals in the freezer. (Good for you!) In that case, politely decline friends’ offers of casseroles, and instead ask if they could help out in other ways. Your fellow soccer or ballet moms could be recruited to pick up your child for practice, while your BFF could pitch in by cleaning the house or doing a few loads of laundry. Having a friend who can make grocery store or pharmacy runs is invaluable.

If you don’t have a lot of local pals, check out a service such as TaskRabbit, which connects you to people who can perform duties such as minor repairs, heavy lifting, yard work, or grocery delivery.

Keep the Kids in the Loop

This is a perfect time to teach your children about the importance of doing their fair share around the house. Even small children can match clean socks or sort laundry, put items away, or dust. In fact, many little kids will jump at the chance to help and to show that they’re big enough to do certain tasks. Just make certain that what you ask of them is age-appropriate. Older kids can load and run the dishwasher, do laundry, make simple meals, vacuum or sweep, mop, take out the trash, and so on.

It’s also important to remember that your children might feel unsettled by the change in routine, or even scared by your infirmity. After all, they’re used to Mom handling everything with aplomb; to see you now bedridden, in a cast, or on medication can be frightening. Reassure them that you’re going to be OK. Give them a timeline, if possible, for when you’ll be back to your ordinary activity level. And as much as you can, keep their schedule and routine the same as usual. Children aren’t as well-equipped to handle change as adults are, so be patient if they act out or have meltdowns that seem apropos of nothing.

Your Injury Isn’t Insurmountable

It may seem like you’ll never recover from the accident or injury you have suffered. If it was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may have legal recourse; consult with personal injury lawyers in New York or wherever you live to discuss your situation.

In many cases, the injury won’t cause insurmountable damage. There will be a period of recovery, which might feel like an upheaval in the household, but if you relax your standards, rely on friends, and communicate honestly with you children, you can weather this storm as a family, and come out the other side stronger than ever.

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