My son got the H1N1 flu back a few years when the big epidemic was breaking. He was already a teenager, but it was the sickest he’s ever been and it was so hard for me to see him miserable. And one of the worst nights my husband and I ever spent was the night our youngest was up all night screaming from gas – It was so frustrating that nothing we did comforted his little tummy.
As difficult as it is to see your little ones ill, there is one thing worse (and I’m not talking about having to baby your husband through a little bit of sniffles!) It’s when you – THE MOM – gets sick. Now I’m not saying that it’s better for your baby to be sick than you- I know most of us would gladly be sick if it meant we could protect our littles!
But I’m talking about when you’re really sick – the kind of sick where it’s hard to get out of bed. You know, Drink-A-Bottle-of-Nyquil-And-Sleep-14-Hours sick.
How do you take care of your littles when you’re feeling that bad?
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do that will allow you to take it easy and get yourself back up to full health.
One of the most important things you can do when you get sick is prevent the spread of your germs to anyone else in your family. You really don’t want to have sick kids while you’re still feeling punky. So remember – wash, wash, wash your hands! Keep a little bottle of hand sanitizer handy -I keep mine right beside the tissue box, so every time I use a tissue I’m reminded to clean my hands. This is also the biggest thing you can do to keep yourself from catching it from your kids.
Of course it helps if before you ever get sick, you take time to be prepared. Keep your medicine cabinet well stocked and make sure you’ve got all the comfort items on hand so if you do get sick, you aren’t stranded waiting for someone to bring you what you need. Before cold and flu season comes around, make sure you have tissues, cough drops, tea, honey, lemon and hand sanitizer.
I’m not afraid of taking medicine when I need to and will happily pop Sudafed to keep congestion to a minimum. Vicks Inhalers work wonders, too. While you’re sick, make sure you drink lots of fluids. Hot tea – especially herbals – will help you loosen congestion so you feel better faster. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a little honey, both of which are known to help sore throats and coughs.
One of the things that really knocks people out is fever; usually, if you can keep your fever under control, you won’t feel too terrible. Make sure you have Tylenol or your favorite fever reducer around. Sure, none of these things are going to cure a cold, but they will control the symptoms so you can do the things you have to do.
Notice that I emphasized “have”. I’m a firm believer in if you don’t have to do it, you shouldn’t. You’re sick, and you need to be resting. If you can get someone in to help with the kids, or the laundry, or the cooking – do it. This is no time to be super mom, you need to take care of yourself.
If you have friends or family you can call to help you out, that’s the best. If not, do you have a teenage neighbor willing to babysit after school? Having someone come over even for just an hour or two to hang with the kids while you take a nap can be just the ticket for helping you get through the rest of the day. Are you friends with other moms in your neighborhood? Work out a barter – they baby sit now, you’ll baby sit for them next week.
While you should sleep as much as you can, I know it’s not always realistic to think you can sleep with little ones in the house if you’re there with them alone. If you have a baby, definitely sleep when the baby sleeps. Don’t feel bad about using a play pen or travel crib while you’re sick – it’s important to keep the baby safe if you should doze off.
With toddlers and preschoolers, it can be more difficult. This is a good time to relax your “screen time” restrictions – tell the kids it’s time for a movie party. Snacks and a blanket fort on the floor can keep kids occupied watching Netflix for a very long time, allowing you to lay down on the couch and take it easy. The kids will love having you snuggled up with them to watch a movie!
Other activities – pull out their favorite picture books, and let them “read” to you – yep, even the ones that can’t actually read yet love going through and remembering (or making up!) the story for Mom.
Or, try a scavenger hunt – you think of an item, and your kids have to go find it and bring it to you – this is a great one, because you get to lie down while the kids are running around and burning off some energy.
When my boys were smaller, I kept Legos and Playdoh put away for special occasions – the special occasion being the days I had migraines. It worked because they LOVE those toys, but they didn’t get to play with them all the time – so when they did, I would get at least an hour of quiet time.
When I’m sick, I don’t care if the laundry starts piling up or there are dirty dishes in the sink. (Ok, even when I’m not sick. Don’t judge :p ) My mother is the opposite – no matter if she’s sick, she just can’t relax until she’s got things done. If you don’t feel like dealing with chores, then don’t. But if you can’t relax when they aren’t done, by all means go ahead and do them. The key here is to do what’s going to help you feel best so you can rest.
If you don’t feel up to cooking – don’t. It seems logical, but we can get caught up in our little traps of trying to be the perfect mom. Call for delivery. If your partner is going to be home in the evening, that will be one thing he or she won’t have to worry about. Pizza is a fun treat for everyone, plus clean up is easy. Your partner can do the kids bedtime routine, and you can go to bed early. Unless the kids are noticeably dirty, it’s certainly not going to hurt them to skip a bath – and if you’re handling things on your own, it will be that much less you need to deal with.
With a little bit of preplanning and a little bit of luck, you’ll be able to feel better quickly and hopefully without germs spreading to anyone else.