When tragedy strikes your family, use these essential systems to keep your work, homeschool, and life running smoothly without losing your sanity.
“I’m sorry but all we can do now is keep him comfortable.”
After months of hospital visits, doctors appointments, ambulances, nurses, tests, results and more it really was going to come down to this.
I had made the trip informed they were doing the long-awaited surgery that day. Everything was ready but him. His heart just couldn’t take it and in turn, mine was breaking.
4 days later he was gone.
Life has a habit of changing- fast! It all started with that “one phone call” and rushing out the door.
At one point over the last few months, I had 4 different loved ones in the hospital. I’ve spent that time running between 3 different hospitals, in 3 different towns, hours apart.
Because finding yourself in an emergency situation can happen to anyone I wanted to share a few essential systems that have helped me keep going when I really wanted to run and hide.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in the middle of tragedy asking:
How do you cope when life as you know it changes so drastically in such a short period of time?
How do you hold it together when so many are counting on you to be there? To have your head in the game, so to speak?
And lastly, how do you fill all the mom roles, work 2-3 jobs, homeschool your kids and keeping your life “kind of together?”
As much as I’d love to say I’m superwoman, I’m really just an exhausted mom that runs on coffee with a control freak problem and a full planner.
The truth is: It all comes down to being flexible and having systems in place.
Systems To Help You Cope:
I want to encourage you to keep working on the systems or routines in your life.
That is what has made all of this bearable. That is what has helped us to continue to work and homeschool through the tragedy and the heartache of losing someone in death.
A system is a detailed method, procedure, and
Some of these “systems” might be:
- teaching your kids to help around the house through chores and cooking,
- using online programs to help you outsource your homeschooling,
- using apps and games to help them learn through play,
- or knowing the signs of when to step back and take a break
These systems will help you get through good times and rough times.
One day we spent 13 hours in the hospital and I was dreading walking in my front door. However, my kids cleaned the house, did their school work, made their own meals and took care of the animals.
Yes, they are teenagers but how many do you know will do this without being asked? Because they knew it needed to be done?
Was it easy to teach them these things? Nope!
It was darn frustrating, at times meltdown inducing on both sides, and sometimes resulted in me wanting to give up. Surely doing it myself is easier, right?
But pushing through has paid off in so many ways.
Don’t give up!
Homeschooling Through Tragedy
When this all started my first reaction was to stop all formal learning until it was over. After all, the beauty of homeschooling is that it is flexible. You can do it whenever, wherever.
We took a few days off and let the kids follow their own interests.
But I know my kids. This wasn’t going to last long. They need routine.
When we learned that this situation was not temporary but a long term battle, I sat down and gave my kids a choice.
The great thing about being a mom who works outside the home several days a week is they have learned to be independent learners.
They could continue in most of their lessons without me. When they got stuck or needed help, they set it aside. We caught up at the end of a long day or we talked via text or phone call from the hospitals to sort things out.
It is vital that you do what works best for your kids and your situation.
If your kids need structure and routine, keep your current routine as much as possible.
If your kids need a break due to stress, do that.
It is vital, when homeschooling through hospital visits and family emergency to do what is best for the kids YOU have. Read more about how to change up your homeschool in the midst of hard these times here.
Focus On What Is Important
We’ve been squeezing in homeschooling, working, and life in between phone calls to hospitals and getting updates.
When this happens it is easy to get overwhelmed and end up feeling you need to do it all on your own.
When this is your reality my advice is to pick your top 3 tasks for the day.
For example, one day this was my top 3 list:
- Work outside the home in the morning (because this is a “fixed item” that I can’t change)
- Pick up my husband from work (the joy of only having one vehicle and he might complain if I left him there for the weekend. Ha!)
- Shower (because ew!)
I asked my kids to pick 3 things to help as well.
Between the two of them, dog poop was scooped, kitty litter changed, wood brought in, dogs exercised and they cooked supper.
Which also means my sinks are full of dishes AND no, I am not doing them. Landry is in the dryer. And my floors need to be vacuumed. I am ignoring it all.
Focusing on realizing there is only so much I can really do has been a massive step in helping me find balance.
Balance isn’t fitting everything in. It’s starting with what is important and letting the rest go.
Have you grabbed my “Get Stuff Done Today” planning sheet? If not grab it below and use it to help you find focus and get things done.
Get Stuff Done Today with this 1 page printable planner sheet.
Do The Next Thing
The hardest part for me during this time of
Then I remembered this amazingly simple and effective advice I was given a few months ago.
Do the next thing.
See, the body is designed to handle stress. But it is NOT designed to handle months of stress, which is what I was trying to deal with.
So, when the phone rang and I learned when the second unexpected surgery was, I opened my planner and added the date and time.
Then I did the next step. I called to see what else I needed to do before that date. Lastly, I let it go.
Worrying about it won’t change the date, the outcome, or anything else. I know, because I’ve tried that. Instead, I focus on what I CAN do.
I’ll be the first to admit it is not easy. Nor is it my first reaction. It’s a work in progress just like everything else.
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed remember: Just do the NEXT thing. Focus on that and then move on. One step in front of the other.
5 Practical Self-Care Tips
To be honest, self-care is the first thing that usually goes
But the truth is, self-care is NOT just bubble baths. It is looking after yourself.
Otherwise, you will find yourself in bed sleeping for 13 hours because of your body just rebels and says “I quit!” and that is if you are lucky.
Here are 5 practical “self-care” tips that really helped me:
1 Meal plan and keep it simple. I kept meals super simple and focused on making sure we could pack it up to go and reheat if needed. Keep snack foods, water bottles on hand to grab and go.
2. Choose your clothing the night before. A few months ago I decided to sort my clothes in an effort to get my idea of a “capsule wardrobe”. Having clothes that you can throw on in a hurry is important and cuts down stress.
Choose clothes that are comfortable for driving, sitting and walking. Set them out the night before, including undergarments and footwear.
3. Get up a few minutes early each day for quiet time. After taking the 4 Week To Productivity Challenge from Crystal Paine, I started a morning routine.
Getting up early gives you a few minutes to drink your coffee in peace, time to read, check the plan for the day and identify the white space you might need if something pops up.
4. Move every day. I use a Fitbit to track my steps. I used the stairs instead of the elevator. Parked a bit farther away in the parking lot and made sure I got outside every single day even if it is only a few minutes. Fresh air and exercise does a world of good!
5. Find ways to have fun daily. What makes you laugh? What makes you smile? Do that. Listen to your favorite songs and sing along, play a quick game with the kids, scroll Facebook for funny cat videos. Take a few minutes and have fun.
You never know when the unexpected is going to happen but with a little planning and a few systems in place, you can hold your own.
These systems are worth their weight in gold when it comes with dealing with family tragedy and helping your kids through the grieving process.
Do you have any tips for how to cope with working and homeschooling when tragedy strikes? Share in the comments below.
PS. Taking care of yourself is vital. Need ideas? READ: How to Make Time for Self-Care When You “Don’t Have Time”
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