If your family is like ours, there’s sometimes chaos and I always joke about what passes for “normal” around my house. First of all, you have to realize that you can’t control everything and even the best plans can get changed. You can however organize and prepare ahead of time to head off some of the little things that go wrong in daily life.
We always get everything ready ahead of time. This means we have a medication organizer for her meds. during the week (with a sticky note not to forget the ones in the fridge). We have everything ready the night before if possible.
If your child is going to school…
We wash our daughter’s hair after dinner. This avoids having to use the hair dryer, which she hates due to autism, and saves time. Stephanie has kidney disease and passes out in the shower if she’s in too long. So (besides using a shower chair for safety) in the morning we put her hair up and she just bathes quickly. We found by splitting the time between washing hair the night before and bathing in the morning, she’s in the shower less overall time and doesn’t get overheated. We have her clothes ready for the next day the night before. All of her homework is done, school paperwork filled out, and backpack packed (including charging her videogame the night before for the bus ride). We also make her snacks and lunch the night before. All of this saves time and running around in the morning and avoids forgetting something due to hurrying. Some things like toileting supplies (wipes, pads), handwipes, extra toothbrush/toothpaste, second set of meds., and a change of clothes can stay at school.
If your child is going to the doctor’s office or Children’s Hospital…
We do the same thing as far as getting her clothes, bathing, and food/meds. ready. We actually have a checklist for Children’s. The day before I notify the school and bus. We make sure the night before that we have money for tolls/parking and gas in the car. The night before we make sure we have a current meds. list (I have a sticky note inside the cabinet door I just take off and replace when we get home) and if any need to be refilled. The night before I also total her sodium/protein levels because she’s on a special diet. I also look at the calendar for several dates that would be best for appointments (including knowing when her next labs need to be). I bring the appointment letter and insurance/Medicaid cards.
We find that having checklists helps us organize. We have to document daily our daughter’s protein and sodium levels. We total it every day then right before her next doctor’s appointment put each day’s on a blank calendar template. I already mentioned we have a list for the hospital. We also have a respite checklist. The thing we use most (and encourage her to fill out what she can) is our daily list which covers a week. It includes putting checkmarks for her potty schedule, vitamins/meds., range-of-motion exercises, and certain foods we have to make sure she gets everyday. We put all of her therapies, appointments, and now once a month shots that we do at home, on a calendar (also because it’s new highlight the shot on the weekly checklist to make sure).
Little things that make life easier
We know that unusual circumstances may arise but we try not to be caught by something out of the ordinary. Her doctor and hospital have after hours contacts to avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room. We made sure we have road service, towing, and loaner cars when needed. Lastly, we carry a one page cheat sheet in our wallets that list doctors, diagnosis, current meds., etc.
Most importantly, always have a plan B. For example, if your child has autism and has to do things a certain way give them a choice of a toy, Halloween costume, birthday party decorations etc. so if the store doesn’t have Pokemon, maybe Yugioh is second choice. Or if your child picks a recreational activity, have a backup plan for something indoors in case it rains. Or if your child is on a special diet, find out when the school is having parties or when your relatives are having a get-together, and bring similar food your child can have. Kids need to know what to expect too.
Again, you can’t predict everything, but by planning ahead you may be able to avoid some snags to make your caregiving a little easier.