It’s the middle of the night. You’ve finally managed to get to sleep after an exhausting day of caring for your kids and the household. You’re tired. You’re always tired. And then you hear it. You’re awakened from the only quiet hours of your day to the unmistakable sounds of puking. And from the sound of it, you’re pretty sure it’s not coming from the bathroom.
You’re no longer relishing the comfort of your bed. You’re up doing laundry and changing the sheets of your child’s bed. You’re scrubbing puke out of your carpet and off of the walls.
You hate seeing your child sick. You would trade places with them in a heartbeat. You love that child more than anything and it pains you to see them in pain. But, it’s okay to admit that the sick child isn’t the only one suffering…..Having a sick kid is awful on a mother. Zero fun.
A few years ago, back when it was just my friends who read my blog, I wrote a guide to helping your child survive being sick. You can find that article HERE. Today, as I wallow in just a bit of self-pity in a house that reeks of Lysol, I bring to you a guide just for you…the road-weary, exhausted, grimy, selfless, in-much-need-of-a-break parent of a sick child. Read it. Adopt it. Live it.
1. Ditch the guilt.
Wishing your child was at school rather than lying on your couch vomiting does NOT make you a bad parent. That makes you normal. Human. Welcome to the club of admitting it stinks when your child is sick. Stop feeling badly that you’ve not welcomed your new job as Florence Nightingale with open arms. Having a sick child is HARD. (Heck, having a well child is hard!) Lose the guilt over any bad feelings you might be having. This IS an inconvenience. This does make your already tough job even tougher. No one will be handing out medals to those mothers who most lovingly and gleefully scrape vomit out of the floor of their van.
2. Stay hydrated
The last thing you need is to go down with the ship. There is a reason they tell you to put on your own air mask before helping a child with theirs in the event of an airplane crash. We all know that moms don’t get sick days, so keep yourself hydrated, and continue to flush those germs that may be lurking around your home out! Make sure you drink LOTS of water, and hey, maybe pour yourself a glass of Riesling once the kids are in bed…you earned it!
3. Remember that Sunset Magazine isn’t coming over
Don’t feel like you have to maintain a sparkly home on days your child is sick. There is a LOT of extra cleaning in your future as you do the extra laundry and disinfecting, so don’t try to be wonder-woman and decide to make today the day you organize your spice rack or clean out the inside of the microwave. This is not the day to handle non-essential chores. It’s going to be tough enough to do “sick maintenance chores” so give yourself a break and let a few of the other things go…just for today. I promise I won’t alert Martha Stewart.
4. Rules were made to be bent
When you have a sick child, give yourself a little room to bend some house rules. We’ve been really working on cutting out screen time for our kids. We have a “earn it to use it” policy and keep pretty strict time limits. However, on days like today, I’m fairly worn out and most of my expendable energy is going towards keeping Child #1 on the mend, so I’m allowing rules to be bent. It’s okay. I can crack down like Mr. T tomorrow and pity the fool who tries to play Ipad all day. So ease up. Bend the rules that will make life easier on everyone….just for today.
5. Lay low
Sick children have a way of wanting extra cuddles. Very few moms can resist a cuddly child…especially if your kids have mostly outgrown that phase. You’ve had a very sweet but very germy child on your lap, and your immune system is likely under attack, so lay low! Chill in your favorite sweatpants, watch old movies, read a book….don’t over-exert yourself. Like I said earlier, moms don’t get sick days. Today isn’t the day to go and run a 10k, scrub all of the bathtubs, or pull all of the weeds out back….Today is the day to get as much rest as possible and give your body a fighting chance.
6. Disinfectant is your New Best Friend
Seriously…disinfect everything. Doorknobs, stair rails, light switches, sink handles, fridge doors, toys, the remote….ANYTHING your sick child may have touched should be disinfected. Stop the spread of germs.
7. Air Out Your House
Open up the windows and let the fresh air in. Get rid of the stale germ-infested air and let some fresh air circulate! (It is not especially nice here today, but we are bundling up and letting in the fresh air anyways!)
8. Make Friends with Your Washing Machine
Once the “storm” has lifted, wash EVERYTHING. Wash your child’s bedding, blankies, pillowcases, etc. Plus, it’s just a good reason to get fresh sheets for everyone. Just get it all over with at once.
Just Remember: Easy is the Name of the Game
Spend the day making life easier on everyone…including yourself. Make something easy for dinner (ie- pancakes, spaghetti, etc) that everyone in your family loves. The last thing you need is a battle at the dinner table. Engage your other children in easy activities that keep them happy. Send them outside (and away from the sick child) if possible. Pop in old movies. Read lots of books. Rest. Relax. Be comfortable. Don’t try to win any Good Housekeeping Seals or decide that today is the day to become a fashionista. Just take it easy. Just today.
Once Everyone is Down for the Night….
Do a quick 10 Minute Tidy, load/unload your dishwasher, start a load of laundry, and run the vacuum over your main living space. Getting a few things done that you weren’t able to do during the day will help you regain a sense of sanity and will make your load a bit easier tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but relaxing in a clean house is so much sweeter and easier. (Of course, if you have the ability to overlook/tolerate mess, feel free to skip down to the second phase of your evening…)
Now that your work is done, kick back, reward yourself with a treat or a cold drink, and throw on your favorite show or movie. Get lost in a book. Take a bath. Do whatever makes YOU feel happy and relaxed.
Take a deep breath and try to remember that this too shall pass.