Listen up, soon-to-be moms. In addition to the sleep deprivation, raging hormones, and uncontrollable tear-jerking love that you will experience as a new mother, I just finished living a motherhood truth that came as a pretty big shock:
When your kids are sick, YOU WILL GET SICK.
So what, you might think? Or, duh is another appropriate reaction, but let me just warn you that getting sick as an adult takes quite a toll, more so than when we were kids. We’re simply larger human beings which means bigger body aches, more discomfort, and further to fall if we get dizzy. I remember a popsicle and a glass of Ginger Ale actually making me feel better as a child. Now, those “sick foods” don’t carry quite the same cure. And getting sick as an adult with little children to care for? A totally awful, completely unfair bummer.
In my household, my sweet two-year-old had a stomach bug on Wednesday. We kept him home from play school, offered Pedialyte, Lipton soup (YUM), and crackers. By about noon he was feeling well enough to run around outside. Ok then! When I put him down of his nap, his demand for a “kiss on the lips mommy” made me melt, and even knowing full-well the state of his immune system, I complied. (Seriously though, how could I not?).
I know you might be thinking that getting sick is my own fault for giving in to this request, but my thought process went something like this: Kids get sick a lot in these first few years, especially when they’re around other kids because their immune systems are getting stronger. I was a kid! I went through that! I got sick, built up my immune system which should protect me against all of these little germs now, right? Well, apparently not. Fast forward two days later to Friday and I was the one with the stomach bug.
As I cautiously sipped on some syrupy-grape Pedialyte at the end of the day, I thought of the following pieces of advice that actually worked for me during this short quarantine. If you find yourself home with kids and you happen to be the sick one, give one or two or all of these a whirl – the attempt can’t hurt!
1. TAKE A SHOWER
It sounds simple, yet I found myself still dragging around in my stale PJ’s at 2pm. If you’re cold, the hot water will feel amazing. If you’re hot, the cold water will feel invigorating. If you get a temperature change in the shower, well, I guess that’s a good place to be because you can do something about it. Seriously though, put the kids some place safe and take 5-10 minutes to wash away the sick. Making even the smallest effort when under the weather is painful, I know, but taking a shower will give you a big energy bang for not a lot of buck.
2. GO OUTSIDE
This one is the best if you can do it shortly after the shower. The water will reenergize you a bit, but then the fresh air really finishes the job. Pack up the kids in the stroller and mosey on around the block. I was hesitant to try this since I was weak and exhausted from, well, you know what. But the actual walking effort was minimal and the fresh air gave me new life.
3. ENLIST HELP
I must be honest and disclose that my sick day could have been a whole lot worse. You see, I have the help of my mom on Fridays, so even in the early dawn hours of Friday morning when I knew I had caught whatever little bug my son had been carrying, the glimmer of hope that my mom would be able to help out gave me some relief. I did think, though, about what I would do if this had been a different day (because inevitably, it will be down the road). If you can get even just 30 minutes of relief with the help of another adult, you likely will find some new energy. Can a neighbor play with one child while the other naps? Do you have any high school kids who have ever offered to babysit? How about a friend from town who has shorter work hours that day? In my experience, raising children really does require a village. People understand that moms get sick and they want to help. The worst that can happen is someone says no, right? So give it a try. Tap into your village.
4. PLAY DOCTOR
You read that right, I actually tried this. We were sitting on my son’s bedroom floor looking at books (i.e. he was sitting, I was curled up in the fetal position) and he kept demanding, “read it. READ IT.” Something about reading the tiny letters among the big, bright pictures of Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go only added to my nausea. “Mommy’s sick” and “I don’t feel well” were absolutely not acceptable responses. I did, however, ask him if he’d like to play “Doctor” and “take care of mom who’s not feeling so great.” To my great surprise, that actually sparked his interest. He dropped his booked and proceeded to rub my back for a whole four minutes. Hey, it was better than nothing!
5. DO NOT POWER THROUGH IT
As I watched my house get pummeled by toddler tornado after toddler tornado, I actually felt a great sense of relief when I decided that I was not going to do a damn thing about it. What would be the point? Run myself down even more? No thanks. It felt good to let the laundry go and the dishes pile up. Snuggle with your cuties and watch what they want to watch, read what they want to read. Pray they take a nap and definitely still give in to those kisses.
Being home sick with children to mother definitely begs the question, “what would I rather be doing?” But hopefully the list above can help you get through the inevitable sick days that are in every mother’s future.