A lengthy paperwork trail is part and parcel of parenting a child with special needs; therapy reports, school assessments, diagnosis notes, specialist updates, NDIS admin, prescriptions, forms, forms and more forms – the list is never-ending. And then there are all the appointments, routines and to-do list items that lead to this aforementioned paperwork. Feeling dizzy thinking about it all? Yes, us too! So how do you prevent a full-on life admin meltdown?
Create a filing system
Sorry, but random piles of paperwork in different places around the house is not a filing system. A system that works for you is always going to be work in process but if you start slowly and build over time it can be a sanity saver.
Consider your child’s needs and how you might need to break sections down; there might be some overlap (e.g. records for doctors and educators) and rejigging needed but eventually the right system for your child will emerge. Some of the sections to consider could be:
NDIS | IEP + School evaluations/reports | Insurance | Therapy notes |Medical history + diagnosis | Home-school communication | Medications | Equipment info | Forms to fill
The key to an efficient filing system is also to know when to throw stuff away. Weed out duplicates and assess whether you really need to keep print outs of every email you’ve ever sent to your child’s teacher.
Create a care guide for your child
This could be kept in or alongside your child’s filing system. A care guide should provide an overview of the safety requirements, care elements and medical needs they require on a daily basis. Diagrams, written notes, dosages, medication schedules, allergies, intolerances, feeding protocols and seizure action plans are just a few things you could include depending on your child and their diagnosis. Update as necessary as your child’s needs change as they develop.
It’s also useful if you create a master list of people involved in your child’s care – doctors, therapists, carers, specialists and any emergency contacts. Include their addresses, contact numbers, and email addresses.
Use family planners
How many schedules are you trying to juggle in your family? There are all those appointments related to your child’s health, their therapy, their education and then there are your own appointments, siblings’ events and activities, family days to remember… the list goes on. Thankfully there are some awesome visual planners on the market to help you keep track and see at a glance who’s doing what, where and when.
There’s an app for that
There are heaps of apps on the market to help with planning and scheduling too as well as other aspects of special needs family life. Check out our apps article here more info.
Meal planning and meal prep
“What’s for dinner tonight, Mum?” Argh, the dreaded question! Planning and prepping meals ahead of time saves time and money and is a sanity saver if you’re trying to juggle work along with your family’s needs. Google ‘batch cooking’ for some great ideas and make use of cute meal planning stationery or meal planning apps to help plan the week ahead. If you need to save thinking time, you could allocate a meal type to a day – Monday for pasta, fish on Thursday, Mexican on Wednesday etc.
Grocery shopping online is a god-send for busy families, or if you don’t like the idea of paying the delivery fees then look into the click and collect service offered by some stores. Another shopping tip: buying two of non-perishable things like washing up liquid, shampoo, etc. will mean you’ll always have one in reserve.
Organise your child
So much time can be saved if you help your child to be as independent as possible with small but impactful, age appropriate home chores like emptying school bags, putting shoes away etc. Make visual lists that they can use for morning and afterschool chores with to-do items they can check off.
Prep in advance
School lunches made the night before, school bags ready for the next day, clothes chosen and laid out. Planning nirvana perhaps but if you can just do one or two things in readiness for the next day it can make the morning rush a lot smoother.
Make the most of waiting time
If your child has a lot of appointments, a lot of your time can be spent in waiting rooms. Instead of scrolling through Instagram, put this time to good use by getting a few things done like the aforementioned online shopping, menu planning, draft important emails, work on your to-do list, pay bills – we’re sure you can think of more to add to the list!