Dear Home-Ec 101,
My wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and since she’s been having chemo treatments our house has been complete chaos. The days she feels good are few and far between and I’m not trying to be an asshole by letting the house go to pot just because she’s not able to take care of it. I’m at a complete loss. Help me!
Hapless at Housework
Hapless, I think it’s great that you want to help your wife. She needs you now more than ever. Not all men are so, ahem, helpful. (Do you hear that, Mr. Ivy? I knew you did.) Here are some things I thought might help.
- Create a space that is not chaos. Your bedroom would be the best place, make sure it is an oasis of comfort and cleanliness. You can keep one room spotless, right? That’s not so hard, just one room. Keep it neat and tidy, and make sure that she has all the things she might need in there.
- Make a schedule, and stick to it. I have a strict schedule myself, and when I stick to it, life is infinitely easier.
- Let your wife do what she can. We women like to be on top of things, and when we are unable to, it is very hard on us emotionally. So if she feels up to doing the dishes, let her.
- Be sure you are emotionally supportive. Ask her what she needs emotionally and then supply that.
- Do ten minute bursts. Set a timer and do nothing but clean for 10 minutes. Sure, you might not get everything done in that ten minutes, but you would be surprised at how much you can accomplish in just ten minutes.
- She needs to eat to keep her strength up, so cook stuff that is light, tasty, doesn’t have much of a smell, and is easy to throw up, if necessary. There are many cookbooks out there for cancer patients, do a search on Amazon.
- Enlist the help of family, friends, and your children. People will genuinely want to do what they can to help, let them.
- Make sure you are taking care of yourself. Have some alone time, do things you like to do. Often, people forget the caregiver needs care, too!
Also, I’d like to direct you to a blog I read, Cancer Commentary. There are some great technical posts, but what I really love to read are the personal experiences. It will really help you “get inside” what might be going on with your wife.
Good luck to you both, I wish you well.
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