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  • Writer's pictureJ Oslund

Surgery recovery w/ kids

I will forever be one of those people that firmly believes that a person has no clue until they have “walked in someone else's shoes”. Today I caught myself being a hypocrite of that belief. I wrote a post about a week ago explaining ‘how to get through surgery recovery with kids’. Well, my surgery came and went. That post got forgotten, until today that is. I skimmed through it again and actually was stunned by the hypocrisy dripping from each word; how could I have written a post about recovering before I even went through the surgery? I actually found myself laughing a bit as most of the points that I made in the post are total garbage. I made a list of activities for my kidlets to do while I was laid up in bed; activities were the last thing on my mind during the days following the operation. Here is my list that I thought was so great:

1. Call in the help! With my upcoming surgery I am told to not lift anything heavier than 20lbs for TWO WEEKS; given that I have a 22lb 5 month old, that doesn’t seem possible. Well, I flew my mother in law in and my husband is off work for the time being. They will be doing the rocking, feeding, and diaper changes until I can manage them on my own.

2. Make sure you have loads of activities lined up that will occupy your little ones that don’t involve you doing too much; here are some ideas:

Coloring; make sure to get loads of coloring books and crayons/markers. Keep all of the supplies together and within reach of where you plan on spending your recovery time.

Books! I know this may sound silly or obvious but your littles (believe it or not) will feel your energy, or lack thereof. They will subconsciously understand your need to be “lazy” and books will seem genius to them. Interactive books such as flap books or ‘feel’ books are especially handy if you have toddlers.

Tablets, netflix, phone games, etc. This is not the time to feel any guilt about excessive screen time! Allowing your children to spend a few days being distracted by a screen will not melt their brains, it will allow you the time you need to properly recover.

Snacks! Get a basket or bin and fill it right to the top with all of your kids favorite non perishable snacks. Keep this bin close to you (partially so you can monitor their intake) so that if they get hungry you can simply grab something from beside you instead of trying to make your way to the kitchen multiple times a day.

Call it what you like but I refer to it as a daytime “slumber party”. Get your kiddos to bring their bedding out of their rooms and set up with you on the couch. It will make it feel exciting and special as it's not something that you do often.

3. If your little ones are older than toddler age (my eldest is six), ask them to help with small tasks. I have asked my eldest to help prepare my meals during the day and she is thrilled that I would entrust her with these special tasks. My husband will “prep” a lot of the food that I will be consuming but she will be bringing me my food at certain times. You could ask your little one to help with things as simple as bringing you a bottle of water or an apple or if you are lucky enough to have an older child, you can give them more important tasks like I did mine.

4. Take out and grocery delivery will be your best friend. Now, my surgery involves my digestive tract so I wont be eating much but that doesn't mean I expect my kids to survive on jello and bone broth. I will happily order them take out to ensure they have full bellies. Grocery delivery will mean not having to trek out to the store before you are fully healed and able.

5. Move on to the couch for the time being. I know it sounds strange but spending your days on the couch will prove to be insanely less stressful than spending them in bed. Why? Well, if you are in your bed that likely means your kids will be too. If you move out to the couch for at least the first few days after recovery it will mean you can still watch over your kids while getting some rest. I suggest moving the majority of their toys into the living room and making sure you are all set up with kids netflix or disney+ on the tv. Being able to keep an eye on the kids, even if you can’t move, will help your recovery simply by bringing your stress levels down.

6. Talk to your kids before the surgery. The whole process of having a parent going through surgery is scary and confusing. If you make sure to chat with your little ones about all of the details of your recovery (leaving out the gory details of course) it will minimize the stress that they feel from the whole process.

So, the list really isn't that bad but what it lacks more than anything is actual experience that I could speak from. The truth is, the first point is more accurate than I can even say. You will need to call in the cavalry, but you aren't going to be completely useless afterward.

The second point is just a solid, NOPE. The last thing on my mind was activities and stimulating my children's brains. They have been watching a lot more TV than I care to admit but it means I can heal and rest.

The third point is not what I would say is conducive to the healing process. You want to minimize stress during your recovery and I highly doubt I am the only mom that gets incredibly stressed when my kids want to ‘help’. The intention is pure and you know their hearts are right but sometimes it bumps my anxiety right through the roof.

Fourth point, EAT HOMEMADE FOOD. Now, the grocery delivery will be helpful, I'm not denying that but don't order take out. Remember Mom's chicken noodle soup when you were under the weather? That's because scratch made, home cooked foods is where all of the nutrients are and they will seriously aid in your recovery process. Take out is just going to slow you down because you won’t be nourishing your body while it's trying to heal.

Five! Your bed is so much more comfortable than the couch, PERIOD! Move the kidlets into your room and just leave it at that. You will have them contained and you will be so darn comfy.

Sixth, and final point. Yes, please talk to your kids about the surgery and the recovery process but please don't count on it making a difference. I talked to both of the girls about it and left the morning of the surgery feeling confident that I had helped them get more comfortable. I was very wrong and that is perfectly okay. Each kid will process the emotions differently and you can't be upset if it's not smooth sailing after they lead you to believe that they are comfortable with this whole situation. Let them process however they need.

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