A while back, a friend posted a tongue in cheek request to the “laundry fairy” on Facebook to please tackle her situation ASAP. I thought, “I have a laundry fairy!”
Several months ago, my aunt started cleaning our house for us once a week. (The evolution of this blessing is a story in and of itself, but I’ll save that for another day.) This was a huge blow to our egos at first, but we quickly realized she just might save our sanity and possibly our lives as we truly were making ourselves sick trying to take care of the house on top of Number Two’s medical issues, not to mention the everyday stuff most families have to deal with like full-time careers, kindergarten projects, lawn/landscaping, etc. THEN, as if that wasn’t enough, she committed to doing our laundry as well! Her generosity has made a huge impact on our lives. I immediately took her actions to heart and have started making plans for how I can someday pay forward what she has done for us to others like us. This has “community involvement” written all over it!
In the meantime, please consider these ideas that someone has done for us for a family or individual you know who is in need. Whether it’s the arrival of a new baby, the death of a family member, illness, or injury… Please share any ideas or experiences you have in the comments!
• Meal preparation
• House cleaning
• Lawn care and/or landscaping
• Care/prep of medical supplies. My aunt washes the dozens of syringes we use each day when she cleans. That’s anywhere from 20-50 syringes we don’t have to deal with that night while trying to get dinner on the table and meds ready for Number Two. Ahhhh…
• Special outings for the kids. Our oldest son is often bored on the weekends and feels less of a priority while we rush around to get our household chores done. (Yes, there’s still PLENTY to keep us busy even though we have help with cleaning and laundry.) Staying on top of Number Two’s feeding and medication schedule requires a lot of time. And my husband frequently has to work on the weekends to make up for the time he had to take off during the week because of Number Two’s appointments or illnesses. When someone invites Number One to play or do something special while the little guy naps, it makes him feel special and gives us time to do what we need so we can have family time when he returns.
• Gift cards/cash – One of the hardest things for us to overcome was the multiple gifts people gave us when we were traveling to hospitals and doctors appointments that ranged from an hour to a day away. BUT the thought behind it and the dent it put in our expenses was greatly appreciated. If you’ve never experienced this, I cannot begin to tell you how expensive chronic health problems are, even with insurance.
• Respite care. In our situation, our son doesn’t qualify for in-home nursing care; therefore, my husband and I rarely get a break. The few people who are willing to learn how to care for him have been a huge blessing to us.
One final suggestion: Depending on the situation, consider a semi-long-term commitment. When someone dies, the surviving spouse is often overwhelmed with casseroles that first week, but then what? Perhaps a dinner date once or twice month once would be appreciated.
The bottom line is even if you can only do something small one time, your effort will be appreciated. And I can tell you – PEOPLE WILL NOT ASK FOR HELP. It’s partially a pride thing, but it’s mostly because they are overwhelmed and don’t even know what they need. I have heard it said before that you should never say, “Let me know how I can help.” Instead, say, “I’d like to do this for you. Would that be helpful?” It truly does take a village…