Life has thrown a punch at our family this week, and while we weren’t planning on the situation we find ourselves in we are thankfully prepared for it. As many of my long time readers know we are a single income family, and rely on my husbands income to survive. However, over the course of the next six weeks, and perhaps longer, his income will be drastically reduced and our families lifestyle must adjust to our new way of life while we are living on short term disability.
How Our Family Is Coping With Short Term Disability
What Happened. Two months ago my husband’s ankle began giving him some trouble. Like most people he ignored it for a little while, thinking it was minor and hoping it would go away. When it didn’t he went to see our family doctor, that appointment led to an x-ray and then an MRI. A couple of weeks ago the doctor’s office called and told my husband they had seen something on the MRI and he needed to see an orthopedic specialist. This past Thursday, Heith and I went in to see the orthopedic doctor. In all honesty we didn’t think much would come from this appointment. After all, it was just an old injury acting up or perhaps a little arthritis.
The news we received wasn’t quite so simple. Instead of something that needed to work itself out like we had hoped my husband was diagnosed with a cyst inside of his ankle that had caused bone edema. A weak spot in the talus bone (the ankle bone) which means six weeks of no weight-bearing and then a repeat MRI to see if that had cleared it up. If not then he would be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for further evaluation. We were also warned that if we didn’t take this seriously and if he didn’t stay off that foot then the weak spot could collapse, and to quote the doctor “…you may as well hang it up, you won’t work ever again.” That is a very scary statement for anyone to hear, but doubly so when you have young children to support and two more on the way.
What Does That Mean For Our Family? Simply put, it means my husband is off of work for six weeks. He is on short-term disability, and our weekly pay has been cut by more than half.
The Game Plan. After the panic, stress, and initial worry for my husbands well-being had worn off (I’m still worried, but it’s no longer an overwhelming fear) it was time to jump into action. Thankfully I had been raised by a woman who didn’t believe in just “plan A and plan B”, she taught me to have a plan A, B,C and for good measure D. Going back to that childhood education I got to work pulling the resources together that we already have in place.
The first four things I did:
- I called the office of an orthopedic doctor and surgeon my family had used in the past and trusted to get a second opinion. We are working on getting an appointment set up.
- Put my husbands work truck on storage for the next 6 weeks. If he isn’t working then we don’t need it and can use our family vehicle. This will save us roughly half of June’s car insurance payment.
- Made a plan for our families finances, and for our food stockpile.
- I called our student loan companies and requested the paperwork to change our payment method from standard to income based.
Thanks to the left over tax money we have, our ability to not spend every dollar my husband makes and my monthly budget, financially things wont change for us much. We have enough to pay our monthly bills, and purchase any food we don’t have stockpiled.
However, the downside is this does cut into my “baby budget” and I will need to be a bit more creative with finding some of the things I need for the twins. This includes: a dresser for the twins, a second infant car seat, crib/cribs, and a double stroller.
I have already purchased enough clothing for baby girl to last her the first six months of her life, and have put away a few things in sizes going all the way up to 18 months. Since I saved all of my boys cloths in preparation for another child, baby boy is already taken care of.
An infant car seat was offered to my husband by a co-worker who’s grandchild has just outgrown it. So we are good there as well.
As for the crib/cribs we have a cradle that my husband and the boys have all used as infants and a pack-n-play that can be used instead temporarily.
We have an old dresser that is missing its drawers. I repurposed it as a bookshelf for the boys and can easily repurpose it again back into a dresser for the twins using a few baskets to hold the things that can’t be hung up.
We have until the babies arrive to purchase a double stroller, I may have to find a used one on Craig’s List or perhaps by then we will have the money we need saved back up for one. Either way, I’m not worried.
As for the other baby gear, bottles, swings, bouncers, etc I also saved all of it as we knew we wanted to have a third child so that is already here to be used. I will need a new diaper bag, but those can be purchased inexpensively as well.
I am considering doing a yard sale as I do have a stockpile of things that can be sold and usually my yard sales earn me between $500-$1,000.00. While I wasn’t planning on doing one this year, plans change.
What We Told The Boys. Seeing a parent hurt, or in pain can be scary for a child. Since Heith is required to be on crutches for the next six weeks we set out to make it the least frightening that we could for the boys. Before he began using them we sat the kids down and told them that Daddy would have to use crutches for a while so his foot could get better. I told KC and AJ that Daddy would be walking funny and we should give Daddy a funny name since he would look so silly. We all agreed that Daddy’s new name would be “Hopalong Daddy”. When Heith did start using the crutches the boys were ready for it and we were able to avoid the uncertainty they may have experienced otherwise.
A big change in a child’s routine can also cause uneasiness for them as children thrive in a structured environment. To prepare our boys for the new routine with Daddy being home we made an exciting announcement. We told KC and AJ that Daddy was going to be able to spend most of the summer home with us and that we were so lucky to have him home. The boys are so excited to have him around, and we are planning to do a lot of free family activities this summer. When the time comes closer for Heith to return to work we will again prepare them for the big change that will be happening.
A Blessing In Disguise. While Heith isn’t thrilled about having to be off of work for so long, and the hit it will take to our income I have shown him how it can also be looked at as a blessing in disguise. Since I am in the middle of a high risk pregnancy and will be making weekly trips to my see my OBGYN having him home to stay with the boys will be a big help. It will also be great for the boys to spend this time together as a family before the twins arrive and our family dynamic changes forever. Finally, it gives us the time we need to finish preparing for the twins arrival. I still have a long to do list of things that I would like to have done. While it will need to be modified somewhat, our family won’t feel so rushed on a daily basis either.
Has your family every experienced a short term disability situation or a layoff that lasted several weeks? How did you handle it? What did you do to prepare for it?
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