I've got kids with medical problems and I need someone to help me manage our home. What is this called and how do I go about finding it?
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats to Home & Garden (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have two children in primary school. One of them has complex medical needs and the other also has multiple challenges. I'm a single mom, although they go to their dad's some of the time. Their dad really doesn't do enough to co-parent fully - he refuses to do or just doesn't do any of the parenting that he considers non-fun and has made it explicitly clear that he won't do this stuff. I have pretty much had to give up my career to manage the sheer number of medical appointments. I spend most of my week running around to medical appointments, doing advocacy, grocery shopping, doing all the errands that I can't do in the evening because I have the kids, filling out forms, etc. My doctor says that most people would find having one kid with special needs is a full-time job, but I have two and then I have my own medical challenges.
Because of my kids' special needs, there can be outbursts or episodes where stuff gets thrown all over, dumped, etc. Right now, there are boxes pulled out (the kids pulled them out and opened them), there are toys dumped all over, 2 overflowing baskets of laundry, stuff just piled everywhere, dishes everywhere, a dirty bathroom, dirty kitchen floor, a fridge that needs to be emptied out, not enough groceries, etc. One of us has a major allergy, so I can't even seek reprieve by going out for dinner, ordering takeout, getting a pre-made meal at the health food store, etc. I tried having a house cleaner before, but it was so stressful to have to pick up everything and get ready before they got here and they've since moved away. I have laundry on my needs-to-be-changed bed and there is junk all over the dresser in there because I have to take stuff away from my kids all the time. They will climb counters, cupboards, desks, etc to get at stuff they want. (To be clear, they have medical care and things are actually improving, but it has been years of this.)
I'm exhausted. I have very little money, other than child and spousal support. I can't just go get a full-time job or even half-time job. I had to give up on the work I had. My kids don't qualify for any sort of government respite services. A lot of our "extra" money goes to paying for special supports, tutoring, therapies, etc.
I feel like I need some sort of doula for my home, like when I had a post-partum doula and sometimes she'd help with the kids, sometimes she'd tidy up and sometimes she'd fold laundry. Somebody who would get to know that you have no idea what you're walking into when you get here. Somebody who gets that my kids and I might be here, because that is just how the day works out and it doesn't work for us to stay away from home. I don't know if what I really need is a housecleaner or something. I feel like it is such an unmanageable situation. When my mom comes to visit, she just seems to always know what to do to help and she gets things back in order.
I'm not sure what service I should be looking to get or what it is. I basically want someone to do what my mom does when she visits. Like Rent-a-Grandma! I don't want to feel like I have to clean or tidy before they get here or feel embarrassed that my kids, who have complex needs, totalled the apartment before they get here. Sometimes, I wonder if I should be hiring a special needs assistant or something and doing the cleaning/tidying myself. I can't just go hire a cheap babysitter because my kids can be challenging. DOn't have a yard and can't just send them outside. My schedule is kind of unpredictable, too, and so I might be here or not here, although I can leave a bit of a list. Sometimes, it would help to have someone sort through all the paperwork that comes in or to look at all the notices the kids bring home. I guess what I really need is what a husband/father would have been doing if I had married (and stayed married) to someone who was wiling to do the non-fun part of parenting.
I hope I don't sound distraught or anything like this. This is a very practical problem. The way life is now, I have no time and I'm just exhausted. I feel guilty that I am too tired at 10 pm to be cleaning the house. I do feel super embarrassed about the state of my home, although I'm sure anyone who reads what I just said above gets it. I grew up working class - my mom was a housecleaner - and so spending money to even hire help is fraught with emotion. But I feel like it's more like I am not even sure what would solve the problem here. I am toying with advertising for a "Special Needs Kid & Home Doula", which is a title I made up. :)
Note: if you popped in here to say that the kids should be doing more of their own stuff, like laundry and house cleaning, I totally agree with you, but, unfortunately, my kids are not in a place to do that right now and this is not because I'm lax.