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Work/life balance

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At the moment I find myself really struggling again. I am 11 months out now from my bleed, and only returned to work three months ago. I work 10 hours a week at the moment, with Wednesdays off.


At first this went very well. I felt like I had a life again, seeing my coworkers and also getting out of the house for more than just a walk. I am very fortunate, because I have no pressure whatsoever from work that I should do more than I am managing at the moment.


Also, I have the support of a health care team (a doctor, an occupational therapist and a counsellor) with which I have regular meetings to discuss how I am coping. I don’t feel pressured from them either to do more than I am currently doing.


The thing is, though I work so few hours, and enjoy it, I am feeling increasingly fatigued, with more headaches and other neurological symptoms from time to time. I try to rest when I am at home, but I have two young girls, aged 8 and 10, who really know how to keep me busy.


My husband has a long commute to work and comes home late which means I take most of the responsibility when it comes to the children and the housework. My head just doesn’t seem to be up for this, and it gets me down. I currently feel rather useless, needing to rest all the time to manage.


The question is, I guess, does anyone have any advice on how to find that work/life balance after a bleed? I am worried that I am going backwards in my recovery at the moment, which is depressing after a few months of progress.


I will go and speak to my health care team again soon, just wanted to hear if and how you have managed. 

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1 hour ago, Tinaw said:

The question is, I guess, does anyone have any advice on how to find that work/life balance after a bleed? I am worried that I am going backwards in my recovery at the moment, which is depressing after a few months of progress.

Tina, it sounds like you're "working" more than 10 hours a week.  Don't forget that looking after the children and house will all also take it out of you.  I've often said to my hubby when he moans about pushing the vacuum around "Its called housework, not housefun, that's why its not easy!!"  Make sure you rest up when you can - try and turn the housework into a game with the children so that they help out too.

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Tina, have a chat with your husband and be honest to how you're feeling. 


Having two girls to look after, working and running a house and only 11 months on from your SAH is quite a handful and I can well imagine that you're feeling pretty done in!


Recovery is something that only you can manage and there's no magic cure .... it's tough, but you have to deal with those questions such as .... Do I need to work? Can I get family or friends in to help take some of the load? 


It's a horrible position to be in and I remember it well .... it took me too long to find what was good for me, rather than what was good for everybody else.


I'm not sure how much you do for your girls, but they are 8 and 10 ... perhaps they can help with a few chores or making their beds, bringing down washing or wiping up the pots. I know that it's difficult to ask, but it sounds that you need some help.  


Be honest with your family/friends as to how you're coping .....a SAH is huge, it's not yours to bare on your own and you will feel much better to have a lighter load.


Take care and talk to your husband. xx 

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Tina, that took me back as it could be me as I was in exactly the same position as you.


i returned to work after about 15 months and built up slowly slowly . Work were wonderful, I had great support but like you I had two young children , mine were 6 & 8 when I had mine and whilst they helped and understood mum needed help like you I felt like I was going backwards.


I had got to 12 hours work at the point we had to dial things back . In fact I let it go too long before acting and ended up in hospital being checked out and the result was we took my hours right back down and brought them back up again gradually to the point I’m at now which is my absolute plateau of capability, reserves and energy. I choose to work, like you I get purpose from it  but not without balance at home and if I can’t have both then it’s no point working.


I have to be careful to adjust my pattern of rest and work if other things come in but I think the advice above is good. Work out what Is possible, what runs your energy down fast, check you are getting enough breaks and rest each day , pause, not just running to the next task  and see what you can outsource. So for instance we had a cleaner for a couple of years as I couldn’t do that at all and it was money I happily spent from my wage. 


Also look at the cooking and ways you you can save energy there with pre prepared meals, bulk cooking and get the children organisiing their  own breakfast etc. 


Work out a point system for when you do things, drive, cook, work, etc and work out how many you think you realistically can do in each day. If it’s not working right now you need to reduce the points you give out and something has to give. 


I now work mornings. It allows me to rest before the kids come home and also I am a lot more versed at saying ‘no I cant do that today’. My big battle was my ego. I wanted to do it all. I couldn’t and I’m happier once I’ve realised that but I haven’t got it anywhere near right yet as life continually keeps surprising me so I just aim a thing keeping steady and when I get that in a day it’s a good one. 

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Thank you so much for your support. Your comments have made me see a few things more clearly. Most importantly, I do not want to end up back in hospital, and from what my body is telling me right now, that is where I might end up. I have kept pushing it for a while now, and have been wanting to cope so badly. So, I realize now that a lot of the pressure comes from myself and as you said Daffodil, my wanting to be able to do it all, like I was used to before the bleed.


I have been encouraging my girls to do more at home, and they have been, actually, but I also realize that constantly having to make them do these things is also draining me of energy. They don't automatically do what I would like them to do, so again, I have to be there to see that they do chores, homework, pack gym bags etc.


I am definitely the project manager at home, and I would be happy to be able to share that role. I did talk to my husband, and he is very supportive, but there is no changing his work situation, so even though he helps all that he can, most of the household responsibilities fall on the person that is at home the most - which of course is me.


I do see that something has to change. I will have to think about my work hours, and also try to list all the things I do during a day just to see what I can possibly "outsource". Maybe getting a cleaner for a while might be an option, I haven't considered it before. And Skippy, I loved the idea of calling housework housefun instead, it made me laugh :). 


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Hi Tina


How about making a list of jobs the girls could do and getting them to tick them off on a chart when they are done. Maybe a simple reward at the end would work, like an hour extra playtime before bed or even financial rewards. I often paid my kids to do little jobs, it teaches them that nothing comes for free and you need to work to earn.


Just make sure it's their responsibility to maintain the chart not yours - they can just show you when it's done. Sometimes it's hard to give our children this responsibility but it does work and does it really matter if they forget things along the time - it's a learning lesson and they will learn by their own mistakes.


I do feel for you with your work situation, I have had a similar journey and it is hard striking a work life balance that works. Even now if I am run down I find work hard and the stress starts to kick in. And as Win says 'No Stress!' 


Try and take stock, work out what's important to you and make plans from there. I eventually had to change my job twice in the first 2 - 3 years and even now am still settling. I still have Wednesdays off, I find that's a good plan for me as it's my recuperation time. I can honestly say I will never work Wednesdays again and I love that thought.


Good luck and keep us posted.


Clare x

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great suggestions there from Clare. Taking on more meant my girls had to understand that maybe today I wasn’t able to make tea and actually they needed to make me tea, it built their compassion.My girls did take on a lot of responsibility then and now and it’s actually now as they are older that they see mum able to do more that I have to remind them I still need them to take on some of the burden so I can function and also accept that not everything gets done To their timescale or with them as priority ...but then I think that’s living with teenagers not just post SAH living!


one thing I wanted to mention is that often when we are really poorly and physically incapable after hospital discharge then we get masses of help at the time but it does drift away. I couldn’t look after myself at first but once I could do more people gave me more space which was considerate but because I couldn’t  drive for 15 months and so I had lifts to places I practised the habit of asking for help or saying ‘today is not good for me’ and that really helped me to feel comfortable asking for more help to do everyday things. 


I also learnt to let things go and also change habits of how I might have done something previously. Regain is good but it is more relearn and adapt I found. Most of my old ways didn’t work anymore. Classic example. I really wanted to hang out the washing. It was a goal when I couldn’t even stand.


Bizarre I know but I enjoyed doing it and the smell of fresh laundry. But for months and months I had to ask someone to do it for me, then when I did do it I fell over in the basket as I couldn’t bend over, so then I got a laundry basket on legs and voila I found I could do it. Slowly though. Couldn’t get a full load out in minutes like I would have pre SAH, now  I hang it mindfully! I wrote a blog post on it 


 I stopped trying to hide from my new limits and not to hide them from others but that is still work in progress so be kind to yourself Tina, just take stock and you’ll find a way through this that’s right. Best wishes. 

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Thank you, some great advice and encouragement again! I know that my girls will be more keen to help out if there is some sort of reward at the end, so I will absolutely try that. A colleague of mine suggested this mobile phone app for children where you can list things they can help out with, and you also have the option to add small rewards, for example a pound for hoovering.


So when they do something on the list, they can just open the app, tick that off the list, and they instantly see how much they have earned. I don't know if I will try it, but I think my girls would find it appealing to help out AND being allowed to use the mobile phone :). 

About hanging laundry mindfully, I remember in the early days after my discharge from hospital that I was very keen to help with the laundry (for whatever reason), and decided to try to match socks in pairs. And how I struggled. Easy enough with the unicorn ones that my youngest wears, but otherwise it was just a huge heap of black socks and I just couldn't see the difference between them. My mind literally went blank.


It took a good while before I was able to do that. But it's true, once I could do this and other tasks myself, I did stop asking for help. I will keep that in mind from now on. 

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