For a lot of us, we live insanely busy yet organized lives. We have our fail-safe systems, schedules and routines that keep things chugging along nicely.
But when life throws you a curve ball, the wheels fall off oh so quickly. Whether you’re dealing with an illness, a new baby, the loss of a loved one, work layoffs or one of the million other hardships people face, life can start spinning out of control.
That gorgeous laundry room that you redecorated? It’s now overflowing with dirty underwear and socks. Your organized pantry? Nearly empty. Your once spotless kitchen? Buried under pots and pans.
It may sound funny, but other than health and comfort, the first thing people facing hardship often crave is a return to ‘being normal’ and getting their life in order. Having things organized, tidied and put away in their right place. Having ironed clothes hanging in their cupboard. Opening their fridge and seeing it fully stocked.
No one is immune to the tough times in life. But when they happen to the people you love there ARE ways you can help. Flowers, cards and phone calls will always be special, but below you’ll find 12 tips specifically designed to help a friend carry on and keep living life as normally as possible.
Become a Personal Assistant for a Day
Help them go through their emails, set and out of office if needed, open and file their regular mail and assist them in making sure their bills are paid.
Next help them go through their diary to make sure any appointments they can’t make are rescheduled or postponed. Make notes of special occasions coming up, such a kids birthdays, so you can be on hand to assist with picking up gifts or organizing parties. The aim is to take as much pressure off your friend, while still keeping their lives running as close to normal as possible.
Paperwork and emails can pileup so quickly, that by spending a morning or afternoon doing this for your friend, you’ll be leaving them with a lot less stress and a whole lot of peace of mind.
Offer a Lift
When lives are turned upside down, so are schedules. By offering to drop the kids to school or pick them up from baseball practice, you’re letting the family carry on as normal as possible.
Clean the House
There’s nothing worse than a messy, smelly house when you’re sick or going through a rough patch. Not only can it be depressing, it can also hinder recovery. So while it’s much prettier to get your friend a bunch of tulips, they would probably appreciate you cleaning their bathroom much, much more!
You don’t have to do their whole house, but even a quick vacuum or taking out the trash can make all the difference.
If you’re living away from your friend, this tip is also easy to do long-distance by simply hiring a cleaning service in your absence.
Provide Pre-Packaged Meals
An oldie but a goodie, dropping by ready to cook meals is always handy. Just always double check if there are any new restrictions or food allergies you need to be careful of.
Also consider dropping off food in pre-packaged take away or microwave safe containers rather than casserole dishes. That way each meal can be frozen and heated up as needed, and your friend doesn’t have to worry about returning your plate ware. An extra tip – write the meal and use by date on washi tape on the side for quick reference.
Again, if you’re far away from your friend, there are fresh food delivery companies that can do this for you. Simply order online and fresh, delicious meals will be dropped to your friend’s door.
Do the Groceries
While most people think of dropping food around, it’s rare for a person to turn up with a jumbo pack of toilet paper. But this is exactly what is needed!
Simply pop over to your friend’s house, make a list of the household items they need and return to stock their shelves. Simple items like coffee, paper towels, washing liquid and toothpaste can make a huge difference in day to day living.
This one’s a no brainer. Offer to take the kids out of the house for the afternoon to give your friend time to rest. They’ll feel good knowing their kids are having a fun outing, and their body will get a much needed chance to recharge.
Walk the Dog
Pets are often forgotten when families are hit with hard times. Dogs especially can sense when things are wrong, and without daily exercise may start to show signs of stress – like barking or chewing – which makes things even worse!
By offering to walk your friend’s pup you’re helping them AND their furry friend – plus you get a fun way to exercise in the process – win win.
Do the Laundry
When you’re sick, laundry day comes and goes and suddenly there’s nothing to wear. You’re literally one step away from pulling a Homer Simpson and dressing up on old Halloween costumes you found in the attic.
A simple load of freshly washed laundry can be the make or break difference in a person getting out of bed that day. Really. Either collect and drop off just like a professional service, or if your friend is up to it, it’s a great way to go over and spend some time together while also helping out.
Take a Trip to the Beauty Parlor
I’m not talking massages and pampering here (although they would be nice too!) – I’m talking hair appointments, waxing and anything else your friend does regularly that keeps them feeling ‘put together’.
If they’re well enough, offer to organize and drive them to their appointment. If not, consider bring some DIY home beauty treatments to them. Even just brushing and washing someone’s hair can make them feel like a million dollars. That way they get to feel a little more ‘normal and refreshed’ and less ‘sick person’.
Organize a Library Service
Being sick or incapacitated can lead to hours of boredom. But not everyone has the money to be buying new magazines and DVDs every week.
Try gathering a group of friends together to pool old books, magazines, DVDs etc into a makeshift library that you can loan out to your friend. For no cost at all you’ve given them hours and hours of entertainment to help take their mind off things.
If a friend is dealing with a sick child, consider the same approach with toys, books and games. You’ll be Santa and their Birthday all rolled into one!
Mow the Lawn
This one sounds so simple, but until you have a jungle growing in your front yard you don’t realize how such a simple task can easily get out of control.
Organize a time to pop over to mow your friend’s grass, trim their bushes or do their weeding. Not only are you handing them a sense of house pride and organization back, you’re also giving them a nice outdoor space in which they can rest and recoup in.
Declutter, Reorganize & Decorate
This one is only if your friend is feeling physically and emotionally up to it. However for a lot of people, going through a hardship such as illness, leaves them inspired to make changes. Maybe they lost a lot of weight being sick and need to clean out their closet. A new mom might need help getting her nursery in order. A parent of a sick child might want to make over their bedroom to boost their little one’s spirits.
Again, it’s best to be guided by your friend’s responses; but a helping hand with these projects means they don’t get overwhelmed or overtired in the process. Plus it brings a sense of joy and achievement back into their lives that they may have been missing.
Have you ever found yourself helping a friend in need?
Or have you been that friend in need?
What are your tips that got you through?
"I am Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner. Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – I set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner. Featuring a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, Pretty Fluffy is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends. My greatest loves include fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park. I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband, Andy, and my 11 year old Border Collie, Soda. As a long time fan, I am super excited to be joining the IHeart Organizing Team!"