Mum's can't take sick days

ddswI wrote this blog post last year, and have just revisited it as the gross, autumn bugs arrive and I’m not feeling fab:

I have spent the last week tending to my sick toddler. There’s a delightful virus going around boasting a week of stubborn temperatures edging 40. We’ve had additional night wakings, cancelled play-dates, and watched Toy Story on repeat so many times, that I’ve started to see an allure in Woody’s big brown eyes and jaunty hat. Rules on naps and snacks have gone out the window, and I’ve tried (read..’tried’) to bite my tongue over All. The. Whining.

Finally, a week later, bar a persistent cough, he’s on the mend.

Me? Not so much.

For some fantastical reason, I thought I’d be immune to this one. However, my temperature is hovering at 40, and even my wrist bones ache.

I’m not a stranger to being ill with small, demanding dependants on my hands. Along with crippling ‘morning’ sickness when pregnant with Baby C, I had appendicitis in my 12th week of pregnancy. That was eventful. ‘Go home and rest for six weeks’ they said. Yup.

We are great at tending to our little ones (sick husbands though…I’m not so great), but what happens when we find ourselves floored by sickness? I’m going to share some tips with you:

1 – Accept all help

I am categorically horrendous at this one. I find it incredibly hard to accept help. But this last six months (read here) have been hugely humbling. It’s quite something when someone so furiously self-sufficient gets to a place where they realise they simply cannot do it on their own! It’s a vital lesson to learn. A level of self-sufficiency is healthy to a point, but beyond that, it’s detrimental to your wellbeing. When you feel rough, it’s tempting to drag yourself out and carry on as normal, but your body needs relief in order to for your immune system to do it’s job. And it’s hard to find that rest, without accepting help.

It takes a village to raise a child. Not only because children need a world of input, but also because parent’s need lots of support. We are not made to do it on our own. You are not superwoman. Message your antenatal group, call a parent, a neighbour or a fellow mum. Let them be there for you, in whichever way you need, be it picking up an oven meal, or taking the kids to the park. You are not admitting weakness in allowing others to help you, you are accepting an opportunity to be supported, and giving yourself a chance to recover.

2 – Be gentle with yourself

Give yourself permission to be ill. Choose to be kind to yourself. Reduce your expectations of what you ‘should’ do (read my post on how ‘Should’s induce parental guilt. You do NOT need to be guilt tripping yourself right now). Choose not to beat yourself up for the things that you are not doing. But, most importantly, show yourself some of the tenderness and understanding that you show your children when they aren’t well.

3 – Write out a routine

When you are feeling okay, write a detailed routine for your kids as if you were writing for someone who didn’t even know where the fish fingers were kept. Print it out and put it in a drawer. Give failsafe instructions down to how your toddler likes his sandwiches cut, or how long to re-heat baby’s food for in your microwave. It’s always such a good idea to have a printout of this information. You never know when someone might need to step in and take over for a while. When I had my appendix out, I felt a niggle in the morning, and by late afternoon I was hooked up to a drip.

4 – Make Charlie Bigham your friend

I love a Charlie Bigham meal. Shove it in the oven and you have a relatively healthy, wholesome, quick dinner. It’s like having a tiny little chef in your kitchen. If your other half can cook, or someone can drop a meal round, then that’s great! But that’s not always possible.

Do an online shop of easy, quick dinners. I have added some Babease sachets to my online shop. They are wholesome, convenient pouches for babies, high in complex carbs and protiens, and without the fruit fillers that many competitors seem to have. Little Dish do great, nutritionally balanced meals for kids and toddlers too. Give yourself a break from the kitchen.

5 – Keep your medical box stocked up

My bedside stash of Ibuprofen didn’t touch the sides lastnight. I had a midnight rummage in our medicine box for some paracetamol, only to find that we didn’t have any! Make sure you keep your medicine box stocked, so that you’re not cursing your earlier self, feeling rough at 4am.

Research what medicines you can and cannot take when pregnant or breastfeeding. For example, it’s not recommended to take any decongestants when breastfeeding, as some data shows that it may affect supply. Kellymom and the NHS website both have quite a bit of comprehensive information on what you can and can’t take, along with alternatives.

6 – Do the bare minimum

Let the washing pile grow, shove everything haphazardly into the dishwasher (just my norm then), clear the diary. Family life won’t be put on hold for sick mums (sigh), but there are some things that you can take off your plate until you feel better. Do it unrepentantly, try to bat away any guilt. The less you do, the more you are likely to rest, and the quicker you’ll feel better. It might give you itchy palms to see your workload increase, but allocate some of the jobs to friends or family. If not, you’ll tackle it once you feel better, with renewed energy! Be kind to yourself.

7 – Prioritise an easy life over rules

Do what you need to do to get the rest that you need. Amazon Prime a new toy to entertain the kids, download some new films and revel in snacks on the sofa.  They will not morph into undisciplined monsters after a few days of lax rules and convenience foods. You’ll have your game-face back on in no time.

Leave a comment

  1. Chelle_catherine77
    September 20, 2017 / 6:16 pm

    Well my goodness Anna. How weird is this. I had my appendix removed when I was 12 weeks pregnant with Meghan. I had a small op at 6 weeks then the appendectomy at 12 weeks. Although they had to literally knock me out as I was screaming ” don’t hurt my baby ” needless to say I didn’t think of the fact of how serious it could be to my life never mind my overreaction (As they put it) to needing to have this done. All in all I awoke to be greeted by my surgeon saying ” everything will be ok ? ” oh god how I wanted them to scan me there and then to make sure my little baby-bear was ok. They finally scanned me and I cried as I saw her little heartbeat as strong as ever. You never know what’s ahead of you in pregnancy all in all after that I was hospitalised a further 10 times but you know what, I think myself very lucky to have my beautiful daughter in my life and although 25 yrs old and married to a wee gem of a guy, she still is and always will be my little girl … It’s sad to think that some women don’t get to experience becoming a mum and that’s why we all need to support each other not only as mums but as women. Love to everyone. Support is out there 😘

  2. September 20, 2017 / 6:27 pm

    Oh my goodness.. Such a similar story to mine, I found it so terrifying as I felt so vulnerable needing surgery and being pregnant. I had to wait for a while to be scanned and they pushed me down when they found me hyperventilating and screaming in pain with cramps after the surgery. I’m so so glad it was all okay for you in the end. Lots of love xx You’re so right, as ever. And lovely, as ever. x

  3. Chelle_catherine77
    September 20, 2017 / 7:59 pm

    Aw Anna. It’s the first time I’ve ever found someone else know what it’s like to go through an operation while pregnant ( and the fact we both had appendectomies) 😚 Thank you for your lovely message. I love how you put things in a way that’s easy (even for me 😁 ) to understand. I’ve had a few bad days so I’ve not been on social media that much but I’ve had a word with myself ( in the shower ) I may add as my neighbours would think I’m totally off my rocker giving myself a good talking to…. so it was done from the comfort of my shower needless to say I think I scrubbed the top layer of my skin off in frustration…😂 oh well that’s my exfoliating done then !😁 I most definitely feel a lot better for it ( the talk) but my skins bright pink… 😊 well now Ive got my head together I shall face the challenge of a new day tomorrow and my two CC’s Coffee and Coco pops… maybe even treat myself to a bunch of flowers from Marks and Spencer 💐whoooppppeeee doooodeeee …. hope you have a restful nights sleep 😪 😗 xx

    • September 20, 2017 / 8:02 pm

      So much love Hun. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad that you’re coming out of this tough time. Pah – the neighbour’s can go figure! Xxxx

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