My first piece of advice is… don’t break your leg! But if you are reading this because you’ve been unlucky enough to be sitting at home with a broken leg, this is what has worked for me so far.
Ask and accept help!
I couldn’t have done this without help. From the moment I realised I had broken my leg, I knew this was going to be a long ordeal. I didn’t know how long, at the time, but I knew instantly it was going to be long and with many implications for me and my family. So we had to ask for help – my husband had to take A LOT on, bless him, but we wouldn’t have been able to do it without his family, my mum, the kind, generous gestures and help offered by some lovely friends and our nanny, who is a friend to us and great with our children.
So if you have anyone who offers to help, take it! Whatever it is, whatever they offer to do, even if it’s something small that you think that you (with effort) or another adult in the house can manage, take it. This is the time to accept all the help you can get. There will be a time to return favours. Now it’s not that time.
Lower your expectations.
I don’t live in a ‘perfect’ home that looks as tidy as the one you see in the magazines – far from it! But I do like (for my sanity) to keep on top of things the best way I can. This results in me running around the house like a lunatic and never giving myself a second, so, to go from this to literally be bedridden or pretty much sofa-bound was a bit of a shock to my system, initially. If you had told me just over a month ago that I wouldn’t have been able to drive or even walk for months, I would have told you it’d impossible – we wouldn’t have been able to cope.
Well, it turns out that we can. I’ve been forced to slow down (or stop, more like) and can’t do so many of the things that were part of my daily routine. Most of them still need to be done and thankfully have been done by someone else, but at the end of the day, as long as everyone’s safe, fed, clean, happy and has what they need for school (the right clothes and the right kit), everything else has to move to the bucket of not-so-important-things. I don’t think I had one before.
Focus on what you CAN do, rather than what you can’t do.
It’s very very easy to focus on the negative stuff. I can’t carry my child, I can’t pick him to change his nappy or change his clothes, I can’t chase him around the street, I can’t push a pushchair, I can’t even do steps without secretly freaking out, and let’s face it, I haven’t really figured out how to bring a plate with toast or a hot cup of something from where it’s made to where I want to eat it / drink it.
But, a month on, I can bend my leg in ways I couldn’t initially after surgery. I can turn around in bed with relative ease, and it no longer takes me 10 minutes and lots of huff’s and puff’s to get up from the sofa. My leg is very slowly starting to resemble a human leg again, and although I can’t bear any weight on it, it’s slowly regaining some movement, so things are looking up.
Spend more quality time with your children.
It sounds really sad, but up until a few months ago, when I was working part-time 3 days a week and had only a couple of mornings at home with the little one without his 2 older brothers, I always ended up chatting to him while doing my chores while he followed me around the house with or without his toys. Now I can’t go anywhere, so we literally spend a lot of time ‘doing nothing’. I can’t carry him, but I can hold him for ages when I’m sitting down, and he loves spending time with me, so you’ll find him right next to me, playing with my hair, for a great part of the day, and we both love it.
We chat, we play… we do nothing together, and we’re happier for it. I’ve also found ways to play or spend more time with my older children – I was heartbroken at the thought of not being able to play football or tennis with them in the garden for months, but it’s only temporary, and if we have to play catch with the soft ball or read a book in the living room instead, that’s fine. We’re still together and creating a new routine for ourselves.
Stop wishing time away
It’s very easy, and now more than ever, to keep looking forward to the future and to a time when ‘things will be better’. I can’t walk or do SO many things for myself and my family that it’s only natural I want to resume some sort of normality. People ask me how I pass my days and assume I watch a lot of daytime TV, but I don’t. I honestly don’t have much to show for, but my children (and especially my youngest) are around most of the time (albeit with another adult looking after them), and I want to be there for them, with them, even if I’m just sitting here.
Of course, I want to go back to leading a normal life and looking after myself and my family, but I believe this time will teach me something. This time spent doing a lot of ‘nothing’ will serve me and my family right. I want to make the most of it. And I don’t want to go back to my old ways. To be fair, I was keeping up a ridiculous pace, and this may be a harsh way to be told enough is enough, but I won’t waste this time.
I’m starting to introduce a little more mindfulness into my life experimenting with a few different things, and I’m pleased to report that the last couple of weeks have gone quite slowly, and not in a bad way. I feel like I’ve lived them, rather than survived them – and it’s funny because just when your life seems to stop and become on hold you realise you’re actually, finally, breathing. And that’s refreshing.
Acknowledge how you feel.
Not all days are the same. Some days I wake up and feel frustrated, resentful and angry. At times, I feel bored and lonely. I haven’t been out anywhere, I’ve had limited interactions with other adults, I’ve missed the fresh air, and I’m sad I can’t even walk my children to school. Sometimes I think of the ordeal of having a shower, with having to cover your leg and jump on a step, then sit on a chair etc. and I just wish I could just have a quick, normal shower.
But it’s not forever. Thankfully things will be normal again soon enough, and the memories of these days will fade away. It’s normal to feel the way I feel. I’ve had a lot of pain and a lot of discomfort and experienced a high level of change. It’s normal to have wobbles (quite literally), but I acknowledge it, I say it out loud, I share my feelings with my husband or a friend, and then I move on and keep focusing on the now and on the positives of my situation. Things will be ok again!
So mums out there, if you’re going through something similar, try to keep your chin up and enjoy the rest. It will all work out, so remember to think healing, positive thoughts!