So, I think I might be getting sick. There’s some nasty stuff going around, and I have all the signs of impending doom:
My kid is sick,
My head is foggy,
My throat feels weird,
My joints are aching,
And I’m more tired than my usual state of exhaustion.
It isn’t easy being sick when you’re the mom. We don’t get sick days. We just get sick.
And it usually hits us about 3.864 seconds after we wipe the last snotty nose, wash the last dirty sheets, and nurse the last ill child back to health. Just as soon as we think the sickness has passed, it slams right into us. (Feel free to say, “Amen.” You know you want to.)
When we know an illness is getting ready to strike the members of our home, or even our own body, it’s important to do everything we can to be prepared while we still have the strength and empty hands to do something about it. We need to be intentional with the time we have before we’re either knocked out on the sofa or playing nurse. Or both.
Helpful pre-sick tips and tasks:
Take care of yourself.
Wash your hands continually. Drink lots and lots of water and tea. Eat healthy foods (in small amounts, if the stomach bug is creeping in).
Get extra rest, if possible, especially if you may be up in the night with little ones, and boost your immunity by taking your vitamins and eating some garlic.
Do the To-Do’s now.
Look at your calendar and To-Do List to see if there are any tasks important enough to be done ahead of time. Run errands, pay bills, and make phone calls now instead of hoping for the time and energy later.
Wash the laundry.
Take care of all the dirty clothes today before you need the washing machine for icky jammies and germ-infested sheets in the days to come. When you’re busy pacing the floor with a fussy baby or are hiding in your own sick-bed, you don’t want your family to run out of clean undies or work clothes.
Cook meals and snacks.
Make a big pot of chicken soup for dinner that can be served as leftovers for the rest of the week. Prepare extra pasta with lunch, cook up some homemade applesauce, or make a batch of healthy muffins for easy breakfasts. You want to have food ready to be heated up or dished out easily for meals and snacks. Believe me, this will keep you from sitting in a puddle of tears on the kitchen floor (been there, done that).
Think of entertainment.
This is the time to stop by the library for books and movies, search Netflix for favorite shows, look for forgotten coloring books and quiet toys. If the kids are sick, they’ll need some distractions. If you’re sick, they’ll need some distractions.
Go grocery shopping.
Make a quick grocery trip to stock up on the usual sick supplies. It’s also good to grab some frozen pizzas, packaged mac & cheese, or other favorite convenience foods so you don’t have to work too hard for dinner if you end up being sick while the family is well (and hungry).
Here’s a basic grocery list to get you started:
- Clear soda (ie. 7up, Sprite, ginger ale, etc.)
- Crackers (saltines, oyster, Goldfish)
- Graham crackers
- Bread (for toast)
- Canned fruit
- Juice (clear or light colored so it won’t stain)
- Popsicles or juice bars
- Frozen pizza
- Packaged mac & cheese
- Fever medicine
- Paper towels
- Disinfecting wipes
Once the sickness officially strikes, it’s time to switch into survival mode. Life won’t stop just because Mom is under the weather or is busy holding back sweaty hair and mopping up icky floors. You need to be able to survive the sick days and help your family survive them, too.
Being sick, or nursing a sick family, takes a toll on your home and your emotions. If you’re not careful, both will become a disaster area. That isn’t good for anyone, and it affects everyone. You need some strategies to hold life together, even if you feel like you’re falling apart.
Strategies for Surviving Sick Days:
Focus on necessities.
Food and clothing. Those are the only two things that are really necessary. Your family needs clothes to wear to school and work. They need to eat. They do not need furniture without dust or countertops without clutter. And I promise you that the kids will survive even if cereal, sandwiches, and frozen pizza are the only three food groups they eat for a couple of days. Trust me, I’ve run the tests to prove it.
Look for ways to avoid extra work.
Use paper plates and disposable cups. Clean up using paper towels and wipes instead of cloths that need laundered. Make a path to the bathroom using sheets or bath towels so if your little ones (or big ones) don’t make it, you can toss the mess in the washing machine instead of having to scrub the carpet.
Rest whenever possible.
When you’re sick (or awake half the night with sick kids), reset the alarm, take naps, and allow yourself to just sit. Also consider letting the kids watch television, play video games, eat marshmallows, whatever. Again, they really will survive, even if they are plunked in front of a screen with sugar in hand so you can rest. It’s only for a day or two.
Avoid important tasks or decisions.
When you start your decision making with the words, “I don’t even care,” that’s not a good sign. Paying bills, switching cell phone companies, making large purchases. All those things should wait, if at all possible.
Avoid emotional issues.
This is not the time to evaluate the state of your home or your effectiveness as a parent. Self-contemplation and fever are not friends. It also isn’t the time to address your children’s faults or failures. They will still be leaving their dirty laundry on the floor next week; you can deal with it then.
Same goes for any issues that might come up with your husband. It’s best to run (or at least crawl) away from conflict until you can muster up some non-sick perspective.
It is all too easy to feel sorry for yourself when you’re sick or exhausted from taking care of the never-ending needs of a sick family. Temptation will try breaking down the door while you feel too beat up to fight.
If you give in to complaining and a poor-me-attitude, you’ll quickly turn to judging others. Then it gets ugly. (I speak from painful experience.) Your husband is not a nurturing mother. Your children are not natural caregivers. Be thankful for their efforts and overlook the opportunities they miss to meet your every need.
Ready or not…
I have a bad feeling that I’m going to wake up tomorrow feeling sick, tired, and achy. I’m only hoping I won’t be wakened up during the night by a child who feels sick, tired and achy. But whatever happens, I have a kitchen full of crackers and closets full of clean clothes.
Just maybe the gallons of water and tea I’ve consumed today will flush out whatever virus is lurking around, but at least I know I’m prepared for the worst and I’ll make it through whatever comes my way. (I hope!)