November 08, 2010

New Routines and Obsessive Cleanliness

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned that I had to let our housekeeper go. She was wonderful, amazing and about as obsessed with a clean house as I am. It was a sad, sad day at casa Chambers.

It's been a decision that I know needed to be made for a while. We've stepped up Stone's speech, OT and PT and our out-of-pocket costs are astronomical.  Something had to give, and I'm happy that I had that "something" to give.

We have insurance, I actually consider it good insurance.  I grew up in a self-insured family, my dad was always self-employed. So, having insurance that actually pays for something (anything) is a novel idea.  The problem is that the sheer amount of therapy that Stone needs - coupled with our network maxes for the year - doesn't quite cover us.

This world, this shift to parenting a child with special needs, is rocky.  My initial idea was that it would be emotional, but I never thought about the financial stress that it causes.  I want my child to get everything he needs, and we are more than willing to make any sacrifice needed to make that happen, but even with all of the sacrifices, we are struggling to provide him with the level of care we think he needs.  For example, the monthly savings of cutting the housekeeper (who came once a week), doesn't even cover our co-pays for a week.  Crazy, huh?

There are programs out there to help - they are really good programs.  Programs that help to step in and cover some of the out-of-pocket expenses and provide some respite support.  I called and we actually qualify for these programs, but the waiting lists are 3-9 years long.  It's frustrating.

We cut cable, we use cloth diapers, our grocery budget is bare bones...but really, what's the big deal about cutting a luxury like a housekeeper?  I can clean a house, I've done it before, with three very small children in tow, why is it hard now?  Answer to all of the above: I'm neurotic.

I can't think straight when my house isn't clean, and when I do it myself, I can let it consume my life.  It happened before, when Holden was a bitty baby.  Heath and I both recognized it and realized that hiring some help for me was the best plan of action.  Since that plan of action is no longer an option, I've tried to come up with a new strategy.  This week, it worked really well for me.  The idea is to never let the house get overly dirty so I don't get overwhelmed.  Here's the plan:

Monday: Dust, polish wood and do Kroger match-ups
Tuesday:  Kitchen deep clean, sweep, take out trash/compost/recycling
Wednesday: Wash sheets, clean bathrooms, Sprouts shop
Thursday: finish sheets if needed - sweep and take out trash/compost/recycling if needed (I try to keep this day open for errands since my Mother In Law is here to help watch the kids) Kroger shop
Friday: Sweep, mop, vacuum and take out trash/compost/recycling

To keep up with laundry and dishes, I just do them daily.  It's a part of my routine, even with a housekeeper it always was.  Usually two loads of laundry a day and one or two dish washings, depending on how much I cook.  My only big issue this week was Wednesday.  The sheets are hard because we're not home a lot on that day.  So, I might switch up days a bit to make this work better.  I also have about a day a month to myself in the morning, and I have a running list of things that need to be accomplished on that day: baseboards, clean microwave and oven, dust fans, sort closets, clean out pantry, etc.

A recent speaker at MOPS, Lane Jordan, did a great talk on budgeting your time and raising kids.  She asked what we would do differently if we were paid in our job as mom and had to keep a running tally of our daily accomplishments.  This was eye opening for me.  When I worked in PR, I always billed my time out in 15 minute increments, so I kept a tally last week.  I've cut my blog checking and Facebook time drastically in the last couple of months, and it was so nice to see how little time that took of my day, specifically when the children were awake.  Since we cut the cable, that's not a time waster either.  In fact, I rarely turn on the TV, even at night, anymore.  But, I did notice how the cleaning was starting to pre-occupy my time with my kids.  I have to remember how powerful those moments are when I'm sitting there with them.  I wish I could follow the, "my kids won't remember a clean house, but they will remember the time I spend playing with them" mantra, but it's a struggle for me.  I really can't focus my attention on them when the house is dirty.

But, I have a plan... and I think it's a good one!


Tammy Stone said...

If anyone can make your game plan work it is you Brit!

jen said...

I understand your financial pain on the therapies. They are worth it, but sometimes there is just those times when you wish for those winning lottery tickets!

Midlife Army Wife said...

I understand! Clutter stresses me out and I wish I could say I have none, but the truth is I get in a cycle of letting some pile up and then getting overwhelmed and I just don't know where to start, or I don't think I have the few minutes it takes to sort through it, so I set it aside in a box to do later....only later gets put off, and I'm back to being stressed that it's there in the first place. I'm guilty of thinking I need to be cleaning house instead of just sitting and playing too. It's a tough balance.

We had to stop Emily's OT because of the out of pocket costs. I feel so bad because she needs it and we haven't done anything for a year. Well, I do LOTS at home, but not with a professional. Once we get moved, I'll get her evaluated again because our new insurance should cover it.

Thanks for sharing! I love your weekly plan.

Jenna said...

or you could have a Jose living you.....Jose's rock!!! He's has actually lightening up quite a bit too with the cleaning.

Kylee said...

You're awesome Brit! I could definitely learn a thing or two from you! I do have to say, I think it's better to not be able to function in a dirty house, than to be totally comfortable in one. I know a couple of people that are way too comfortable with their dirty houses! I guess it's all about finding that balance. You seriously are one of the best moms I know.

This probably isn't any of my business, but did Stone not qualify for medicaid when you adopted him? Isn't he considered "special needs?"

Heather said...

I just want to say I love reading about your life with three boys!

This post really hit home with me as I struggle to find that balance myself. I am a first time stay at home mom with my third kiddo and my house was cleaner with me working full time!

Just try to give yourself some grace- especially in the transition period of learning to "do it all" again.

I lived in the Philippines for two years and am now adjusting. I hope to get there soon!

Those Dandy Dillards said...

Hey there -

I'm glad the tracking of how your spent your time was helpful to you! An idea... something that helps me with sheets is having 2 sets for each bed. Maybe that could be a Christmas gift idea, especially for the boys, since I know getting them off, washed/dried and back on when it's not nap time or bedtime is a challenge!

Thanks for your schedule! I hope you continue to be able to make it work for you!