decluttering and uncertain life expectancy, the challenge ... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 08-07-2011, 05:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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well ... i've always had trouble decluttering

 

(too small bursts, too far spaced, to achieve much visible results)

 

now, i've been diagnosed with some medical condition that's potentially life threatening in some cases

I do hope I'll be among the cases that do respond to treatment ....

but it is scary in any case,

i was already slow to declutter, I don't want to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear on top of it ...

 

so if feels a bit like russian roulette challenge ...

how long have I got to live, 3 weeks ? 4 months ? 5 years ? 10 years ?

 

obviously priorities will be different depending on how things unfurl

(I'll know more about the pace of treatment - how tired or incapacitated I'll be and at which interval- in about 24 hours)

 

am really looking for some perspective on that ...

I mean if you had 3 weeks or 4 months to live, how would you tackle that decluttering challenge ?

(mainly papers, books, bits and pieces that are mainly mine)

 

I'm about ok with kids' clothing (much reduced stashes of too small/too big clothing)

DH tackled the toys and kids books last week

Kitchen stuff is mainly under control

my clothing mainly under control too

 

am in charge of all family paperwork so I need to streamline there

I mean I have a sort of system but I tend not to be regular so I used to let piles of stuff accumulate and tackle them once every 3 months or 6 months or so

 

+ am always worried that I will throw away something important so still have piles of medium importance stuff that I haven't gone through & worried something really important is just in the middle of that ...

 

I'm also not very good about dusting and horizontal surfaces get cluttered very fast

=> there might be days when I'll have to have someone in our flat in order to help out with the children

I really would like to feel better about the look of our home

 

am ok with daily and weekly tasks (except dusting !!!) but still not feeling confident that our home looks "ok"

(some friend told me recently that she felt good seeing the clutter in my home after going to visit a friend whose flat was a bit "too perfect" ...)

 

any suggestion or advice would be appreciated, tia

 

 

 

 

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#2 of 23 Old 08-07-2011, 07:27 AM
 
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Hugs.  If it were me I would honestly put decluttering on the back burner.  If this is something that you feel you have to tackle now and if funds are not an issue, you could hire someone to organize it all for you. Your time is too precious. 

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#3 of 23 Old 08-07-2011, 08:56 AM
 
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I hope all goes well for you and your illness responds to treatment.

I also have an illness that is potentially fatal, but I am now in remission and doing well.

 

Personally.. living in clutter bothers me so much that I would not want to spend my time stressed about it even if I knew I might not have as long time to live as the average person. Actually, that would be a motivation not to put it off any longer. But making sure not to burn out and make myself sicker..

 

A sudden loss or illness can be eye-opening to the fact that we have so much that simply does not matter and only serves to complicate our life. De-cluttering can be hard but it's so rewarding when your life becomes simpler and easier and you can relax more, something to appreciate when you are ill.

 

Getting help is a good idea too if you feel like it's too much to tackle on your own.

 

 

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#4 of 23 Old 08-07-2011, 05:44 PM
 
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I am sorry to read that you are facing this challenge; I hope that you respond well to treatment and that the prognosis will be good for you.

 

If I had 3 weeks to live, I would not be even thinking about decluttering.  I would just relax and enjoy time with my loved ones.

 

If I had a few months to live and was well enough to do this, I might deal with getting rid of clothes and personal effects that nobody in my family would need after I am gone.  Also would work out which jewellery etc I would pass on to which child of mine.

 

If it was more likely years to live then it would just make me become more disciplined about decluttering in general.

 

This is something I have often thought about, as we have had a few battles with cancer in my family, it does make me think...how would I feel about people going through my things if I died. So I have instructed DH to make sure he and ONLY he goes through my things if anything happens to me. Or my daughters if something happens to both of us.  I couldn't think of anything more upsetting to me than my MIL stepping in (as she does) to be 'helpful' and sort out my personal things.

 


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#5 of 23 Old 08-07-2011, 10:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you for your replies, reading your thoughts helps my brain not to give in to panic

 

right now am preparing for the hospital visit that will give me an idea of what my week will look like

 

so this early morning was "business as usual" (opening the windows, watering some plants, a drink, cleaning the toilet, folding laundry & putting on another load ... then preparing my hand bag -not sure if the visit will be 30 minutes or if they are going to keep more more hours for more tests ...)

 

children are not up yet because we had rather a few late nights when on holiday last week and came back on the night train yesterday

DH has morning off to take care of children but potentially can remain if I ring him that I'm staying longer at hospital

(have been without a cell phone for the last 3 years, now wondering if I should get one or not ... for better coordinating childcare in the future months ...)

 

 

 

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#6 of 23 Old 08-08-2011, 05:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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ok; so the one appointment this morning lasted a bit, but that was just an overview of what's to come

two days in the hospital this week; tomorrow Tuesday and on Friday (about 8:00 am till past 3:00 )

Dh taking days off for the children

 

am heading to the park shortly to keep the children busy

(need to take some knitting or crochet so as not turn nutty ... and keep my hands busy and my mind focused on "something else" ...)

 

planning to tackle at least 3 or 4 boxes (from our last move nearly 3 years ago....) tonight after the children are in bed or early morning

(am sure if I go to bed too early, then I'll be up before dawn ....)

... but I don't like the advice of "if not used for the last year, then you don't need it, just chuck it away ..."

because in one of these boxes that i had not had time to sort through (or rather too stressed out to do it in fact)

10 days ago I had to fish out my mammographies from 5 years ago and 7 years ago ....

 

 

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#7 of 23 Old 08-08-2011, 05:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaFrench View Post


... but I don't like the advice of "if not used for the last year, then you don't need it, just chuck it away ..."

because in one of these boxes that i had not had time to sort through (or rather too stressed out to do it in fact)

10 days ago I had to fish out my mammographies from 5 years ago and 7 years ago ....

 

 


I've never found that advice useful either. Things don't become useless after a year, just because one has forgotten about them, (especially not mammographies.)

 

Sounds like your DH is being very supportive. 

 

Good luck for next week's appointments, and re doing things to keep your mind on something else, that is a good idea.  hug2.gif

 


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#8 of 23 Old 08-08-2011, 12:55 PM
 
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(((Hugs!))) Hope you get good news. In the grand scheme of things, stuff really isn't that important. Just do what makes you happy for a while. I don't feel well or function well with a lot of clutter, so I would probably try to focus on that too.

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#9 of 23 Old 08-08-2011, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the validation Clutterwarrior, am glad to see in writing that am not the only one ....

 

plans for boxes tonight ... didn't happen (procrastinating ?) ... I suddently realised that I really really wanted to make an effort on floors tonight

(so that I'll be ok for a few days to come)

 

can't get to sleep, alarm is going to ring in less than 5 hours ...

 

at least have used FB to set up some playdates/picnic for Wedn and Thursday (should be functionning about ok, it' s after the Friday session that I might be unwell, but then it will be week-end so potential solo parenting for DH if I feel too unwell ...)

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#10 of 23 Old 08-14-2011, 03:10 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by clutterwarrior View Post


 Things don't become useless after a year, just because one has forgotten about them, (especially not mammographies.)

I think the bit about throwing things out after a year was never meant to apply to records that one might need to access later. To extend that, I would submit that it would also not apply to items that you haven't used in a year but fully intend to use again at a future date--like baby clothes & gear, if you plan on having another baby--just because you haven't used them in a year doesn't mean you won't. I think it is mostly meant for stuff that just doesn't get used, period.

 

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#11 of 23 Old 08-15-2011, 09:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP here, updating on progress

am resting after a first course of treatment (a few side effects, but manageable for the moment )

it ended up that I was in hospital every day of last week, just some days were walk in and out (once for 50 minutes, the other time for 5 minutes in the morning then 3 hours in the afternoon but 3 hours later ..), with two much longer days (Friday i stayed in the same room for more than 10 hours ....)

 

normally, I should have no medical appointments for the next two weeks and DH goes back to work tomorrow so it will be

- parks to meet up with other moms and the children to play outside (once or twice a day, depending ..)

- trying to carve out an hour or two a day for decluttering

- getting the two eldest to resume summe workbooks activities which were totally dropped for the last two weeks

 

school supplies are nearly all baught, labelled and packed in bagpacks (that was done just before we had confirmation of the diagnosis, during the wait)

 

now I need to discretly (= when they sleep) weed out what really must be kept from last year or not,

they would keep everything, every revoltingly dirty scrap of paper, we don't have the space ...

 

baught a new T-shirt to wear tomorrow, but already know which one is going into the "to give" pile

learned from this excellent sub forum about the "one in,one out" rule ....

 

yesterday went through socks with DS (who has issues about clothing itching or not feeling "right") we had baught some new ones, so managed to make him look and sort out and discart some that were given to us and he would never wear anyway ... he's still very sad that his favorite ones -I just cannot remember where I baught them - are falling to pieces and that I'm discarting the ones with holes one by one ....

at least he's made some progress, two summers ago, he had a fit after I threw some of his totally worn out socks ... I really thought that on that day we would not be able to go out, he was so stubborn about which socks he could wear or not ....

 

am off to try to have another nap after putting up a load of laudry to dry

and started a load on hot with our bathtowels

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#12 of 23 Old 08-16-2011, 11:45 AM
 
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You're doing great! I can relate with the little one who doesn't like to get rid of things. She's getting much better with clothing, but toys are still tough. Hang in there, and no guilt if you don't get to do an hour of decluttering. Little by little works too. Just 10 minutes here and there is also good.

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#13 of 23 Old 08-16-2011, 01:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for your encouragements

today no decluttering

but went to the park twice & to the optician in order to order the lenses for the glasses of the two eldest (this year we are keeping the same frames)

at least I have it in my mind in various part of the flat that .... this will get into a bin, this will get into the donate bag etc ....

 

actually need to take a sleeping medicine NOW so that I can wake up early tomorrow (earlier than them !) and get going a bit for about 30 minutes of decluttering ...

 

have spent too much time on the phone tonight already but it was to arrange for a playdate with another mom for tomorrow morning

because I don't want to be spending the reminder of the school holiday not doing anything with the children !

juggling to try to do a bit of everything ....

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#14 of 23 Old 08-16-2011, 01:30 PM
 
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Your doing a great job, momma! Love to you...

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#15 of 23 Old 08-16-2011, 11:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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LOL the 30 min ended up being 4 minutes !!!

difficulty = trying to work it out WITH DH

(sometimes he thinks that when I ask his opinion about something it's because I have none of my own and therefore is very desappointed when I just don't do exactly and only what he told me he was thinking ... the idea that I'm looking for a balance on both our opinions is vers slowly getting into his mindset ...)

 

this time we are working on soft toys

eldest DD had about .... 60 in her bed + smaller blankets that I knitted and crocheted for their baby bed but they still hang on to two each

(and sometimes youngest DD goes to sleep with her, they must be so hot and cramped ......)

 

during our hurriedly trip back on night train we had an interesting conversation with the ticket controller who has no children yet but two nephews regularlry for sleepovers & ended up talking a good 15 minutes about size and number of soft toys allowed in beds according to age .... => it's a bit annoying to me that my children are more receptive to what strangers tell them than what I have been telling them for ages .... but,well, took advantage of it the next night and stuffed ALL soft toys in 3 HUGE plastic bags & told them to choose only 5 each

 

now the plastic bags have been sitting in our bedroom (whilst I was busy at hospital last week)

got one of these pop up mesh hamper yesterday

asked DH to make two piles of keep/give & went through is keep pile and removed half (he was not too happy ...)

but in his "give pile" (two huge plastic bags) I know there are some that I'm going to rescue ...

 

but no time to do that right now, will have to wait until the children sleep tonight

because I need to fold laudry so the drying rack is free for the next load to put up

and prepare sandwiches and bags to meetup with a friend and her children ....

 

glad I took some pills to help me sleep last night, they ARE addictive unfortunately , but I feel so much better having slept more than 7 jours in a one stretch ...

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#16 of 23 Old 08-17-2011, 09:39 AM
 
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I am so sorry about your illness. This is the time to call on all your friends and family to help.

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#17 of 23 Old 08-17-2011, 05:48 PM
 
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Isafrench....you are doing such a great job. I so admire your attitude of calm organisation. Thinking of you.


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#18 of 23 Old 08-18-2011, 04:40 PM
 
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4 minutes is better than nothing! LOL! In your case, I would be taking something to help me sleep too. Sleep is very important.

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#19 of 23 Old 08-19-2011, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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another day busy with picnic in the park

with two english speaking moms who both know and I feel good being with them etc ...

and the children play well together although they are not quite the same age ....

so that the children get away from TV/computer

 

an ex-neighbor dropped by that same park at the end of the picnic , she's ok but very chatty and it can get tiring because she asks one question after another and has a flow of speech which shows a bit that she's an impatient, anxious type of person

 

(I had seen her briefly on Tuesday whilst shopping and instictively choose not to disclose about my illness, hoping that the children would not blurt out something to give it away, it worked, I talked about it later on that day with the 2 eldest, saying that I don't always want to say it to people I meet every day etc ....)

 

am quite pleased with myself because I managed today to chit-chat for two hours without letting it out ...

but am ready for a mini nap now because we came back on foot and it's hot

 

it might be that I'll get 9 hours by myself tomorrow during the day => hope to really make a dent in the decluttering process ....

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#20 of 23 Old 08-19-2011, 09:22 AM
 
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Dropping in rather late to the party...  But if I was in your position, the thing I would do first is to make sure DH has the passwords for all of the online banking and internet bill pay accounts that I have set up.  I rarely get paper bills anymore, and he has no idea how I've organized it all.  Come to think of it, I should probably write it all down anyways in case I'm ever in a car crash or anything...  I'd also get phone numbers of family and friends organized and written down in one place.  

 

Regarding my personal items...  Aside from putting aside items I wanted to go to specific people, I'm not certain I'd care about organizing/decluttering!  But I can also understand not wanting to leave a mess of papers, books, clothes, etc. behind for your DH so sort through.

 

Best of luck to you with your treatment.  I hope everything goes well and you have a good response.


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#21 of 23 Old 08-19-2011, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i don't do on-line banking and paperless bills ... but it is a good point

 

am hoping tomorrow to make sure that I have one of these box organisers with a handle (I have 3 dusty ones with hardly anything in them)

with a copy of every bank account of every family member + a copy of birth certificates etc ...

 

otherwise slowly working over the years, I've finally convinced DH to put HIS important papers in ONE box high up where kids cannot get to, it usually works, except that for the last 3 months we haven't been able to lay hand on one of his ID (he has 2 nationalities, so not the one most important to him, but the one of the country where we live now, so rather important in my eyes ....) SO when I try to go though all of our piles of mixed up important papers and random ones tomorrow, not only I hope to throw away two thirds of it, but I'm hoping to find his ID again,... if not, I've told him that next time he's taking time off so that I spend the day in hospital (in two weeks time) I'll send him to the right office with the right original and photocopies of whatever he needs to start the process for re-issuing the ID... (have just done that last month for DS whose ID had come up for renewal, was surprised because I was a bit late, having postponed going ... but in the end it wasn't so much of a problem to gather whatever original documents and photocopies that were needed ...)

 

I have a little green book with all important addresses and phone numbers (DH usually cannot remember where his little address book is, so when he needs to contact his family -which is not too often in fact- he knows to ask me for their details so he's had that green book in hand .....)

 

still haven't done anything more about the soft toy (hoping to finish by tomorrow) ... the good thing about the wait with the soft toys is that eldest DD hasn't made such a scene as before when she would act like she wouldn't survive if she was separated from all her soft toys ... not sure if it's the impact of the illness and the changes in our lifestyle that have had an impact or not ... I tried asking if I had explained enough, & if she had any more questions etc ....

I don't get much feedback from the two eldest ...

 

two days ago we were at the bus stop on a way to a paddling pool to meet up with friend and the mood was rather joyful so I starting telling them how suprised I was the previous week when I had gone for my first full day at hospital, because I was told about a small operation under local anesthetic so I had not imagined I would be confined to a bed for the most part of the day (I thought it was walk in, walk out ...) & I had found it rather comical that when they come to fetch you to go to the operating theater, although you are well enought to walk on your two legs, they actually roll the rather large bed in all the corridors, up a lift etc ....we had a good laugh about it ...

 

also yesterday, I just dropped in quickly to the hospital on the way to park for a play date

the lady in the room with me last week, was supposed to start a course of day long treatment last Friday, but in the end, after about 4 hours wait she was told it couldn't go ahead and that it would be postponed by a few days & I could see she was desappointed that we would not be synchronised from now on since we had started to get to know each other etc .... so I just wanted to drop by for 5 minutes to say hello and mention to her that the few days after my Friday treatment had not been too bad etc .... + show her how much I had progressed on the baby blanket I had started crocheting on Friday

 

plus I thought it might be a good idea for the children to see where I was going when I tell them that i'm going to the hospital

so the eldest got to have a quick look in the room where I was last Friday (no bed, just 5 recliners)

 

... it's always hard to judge how much/how little to say

some of my relatives talked very freely about my illness when we were just family together, when i first received the definite diagnosis, so of course "the children know" ....

 

we got the new glasses this afternoon + DS seems less oppositional about is and he SHOULD have them on all the time, two years ago I lost the battle, he had other issues going on and I stopped insisting & apparently he was wearing the glasses a little at school (but only that ),

since our ophtalmologist visit in July he's seemed more motivated (but after the definite diagnosis I stopped because we hadn't had time to get the new lenses in before going away & his vision has changed quite a bit apparently ....), now, someone in the lenses shop mentionned that he would be so happy with the new lenses/proper correction that he would be much more comfortable and surely wanting to wear the glasses ...

 

our dentist is on holiday, I should have had us all for a cleaning in June and let it pass

might try to see if I can get an appointment next week with another dentist nearby .....

that would be one more thing done to make me feel that I'm up to date and taking proper care of my children ...

 

= maybe I should make such a list for DH with how often & what to do (teeth, eyes,  .....)

 

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#22 of 23 Old 08-19-2011, 07:02 PM
 
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It's definitely hard to judge how much to say to children. I wonder if there are any books that would help them. I'd maybe sit them down and talk with them about how it's hard to know what to think or feel in these situations and that it's normal to have all sorts of feelings... anger, sadness, worry, wanting to be strong for mom's sake, happiness in the moments of laughter. But then give them each a journal where they can draw pictures or write about anything they are thinking/feeling... whether it is related to what is going on right now or not.

Keep your positive attitude and your sense of humor. You are doing great. And how kind of you to stop in to see the other lady you started out with. I was thinking, and you can ignore this advice if you like, but you might want to keep your decluttering efforts subtle and not terrible fast in this case for the sake of the kids. I think paperwork is an area where you can be ruthless, but maybe make sure they are really OK with getting rid of toys right now. There are so many things that will change with your treatments, so maybe keeping things "normal" for them is important. I found that letting my dd "rescue" 3 items from a big box or bag full helps her feel more in control. Yes, she does still fuss a bit about giving up her things, but it goes better when she can feel like she can save a few favorites. I don't know, you need to do what is best for you. I was just thinking.

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#23 of 23 Old 08-19-2011, 09:02 PM
 
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My husband went through cancer treatments last year and  I wanted to  keep our house running smoothly while I escorted him to his appointments.I would suggest if you have the space and the money  to stockpile the nonperishable items you normally use.Being able to go to a closet and pull out a tube of toothpaste or  for you or your husband be able to cook some pasta quickly will make day to day life easier.You don't need to worry about stuff like that- get enough of things- to last through your treatment schedule .Make a list and go shopping now so that things will be there when you need them.Start a master list of items with preferrred brands so if there are days you don't feel like shopping your husband will have the info he needs.Wishing you good luck with your treatments, I hope for a successful outcome.        

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