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How To Prep Your House Before Having Surgery

Learn the top nine things you need to do to get your house prepped and ready for post-surgery recovery.

Having surgery can turn your life upside down for the weeks and sometimes months of recovery time. Between mobility problems, increased family members visiting to help, and a change to your entire household’s routine, things get a little (ok, a lot) stressful. I learned this firsthand when I had my knee surgery a few years ago. But the professional organizer in me was in full swing, and I planned and prepped as much as I could. Today I want to share the top nine things you should do for yourself, your family, and your home before your procedure so your recovery period is as stress-free as possible.

low closet bar

1. Adjust Your Closet

No matter what body part is having surgery, your movements are going to be altered for a little while. The first thing to do when you’re preparing for your post-op recovery at home is to add a lower bar to your closet if you don’t already have one. If you can’t add one permanently, get a temporary hanging rod like this one so you can remove it once you’re all healed up. You’ll thank yourself over and over again.

organized pantry by Lela Burris

2. Rearrange The Pantry

You won’t be cooking for a while so make sure your pantry is stocked with snacks and easy meal foods, and the items are at arm’s level and easy to get to. If you have other people in your house that will be cooking for you, make sure the pantry is cleaned out from anything old or expired, and organized so they can find ingredients easily.

colorful cheerful living room

3. Move The Furniture

Consider what your range of movement will be and rearrange furniture as needed. If you’re having a procedure that will cause you to need a wheelchair or crutches to get around for a while, you may need to relocate some bigger pieces of furniture or put extra accent pieces into temporary storage. Your goal is to have the most open floorplan as possible. If your living room furniture usually floats in the middle of the room, push them back against walls to open up the space.

clean bathroom

4. Adjust The Bathroom

If you’ve never had surgery before, you’ll quickly realize that the bathroom is really hard to navigate after a procedure. Especially if your bathroom is on the smaller side. When you’re in the first few weeks of recovery, a nice hot shower or bath is a treat you’ll be so excited for, so take extra steps to make the space clean, organized, and open. Take out rugs because they can be a trip hazard, and move your most-used daily essentials to a handled caddy or tray on the counter.

white u shaped kitchen design

5. Set Up A Medication Area

You’re going to be taking at least a few prescription medications for the first few weeks after your surgery, so go ahead a prepare a place to keep these meds. A small basket for medications on the counter and a dry erase board for notes and schedules will keep everyone on track. This is especially helpful if your spouse or older children will be helping you get what you need.

6. Make A “Fun Basket”

You’re going to be sitting around a lot, and eventually Netflix binging will get old. Fill a basket with magazines, coloring books and colored pencils, puzzle books, your laptop or tablet, a blank notebook and pens, and anything else you might like to keep you occupied while you’re on bed rest. You can order a bedside organizer like this one to keep your go-to’s right by your side if you aren’t able to get get up and down to pick up a basket.

Organized-ish home management binder printable kits by Lela Burris

7. Create An Info Binder

Before your surgery, take time to create a binder with all your medical info and emergency contact information inside. This is helpful for family members who are taking care of you, and for quick info when you’re dealing with short-term disability and FMLA paperwork updates. You won’t always be able to get to your filing cabinet to track down medical history and insurance information. The Family Info Kit inside the Organized-ish Binder Kit Collection is perfect for this job.

1thrive susan command center with Lela Burris

8. Clean Out The Car

Between coming home from the hospital and all the physical therapy trips, you’re going to be in the car more than you’d like to be. It’s already uncomfortable enough to climb in and out of a vehicle, but maneuvering in a messy car is the absolute worst. Give your future self the most bearable car ride possible by cleaning out the car ahead of time. Take out anything that isn’t necessary, vacuum the interior, and add a first aid kit just in case.

Me visiting my brother after his college graduation, two weeks after my knee surgery.

9. Reserve Rental Equipment Early

When I had my knee surgery, I was told I would need to use a wheelchair for a month. After calling around to all the places in my area that offered wheelchair rentals, I quickly found out that it’s rare to get one right on the spot. Luckily, we finally got our hands on one the day before my surgery, but I know that won’t always be the case for everyone. I learned that there is usually a waitlist, so if you know you’ll need some kind of rental equipment, call and reserve it as soon as you can.

Feel More Prepared Already?

I hope these nine tips help you feel less anxious about leaving someone else in charge at home while you recover from surgery. They really helped my husband and me during my own surgery recovery, and I know your family will be so grateful that you took the time to plan things out for them, too.

If you don’t already have access to my Organized-ish Binder Kit Collection, now is the time to get yours and get it printed. You can go ahead and set up the Family Info section before your surgery, then work on the rest while you’re on bedrest. You can get access to the whole printable collection here.

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