“Winter Is Coming” – a phrase known by many from the popular fantasy tv show, Game of Thrones. But for many parents out there, this phrase means something a lot, lot worse than White Walkers – with winter comes bugs, illness and general lurgies. And as a parent, coping with a sick child is awful. But what’s even worse than that? Coping with a baby when you’re sick yourself.
Having been someone who was reasonably healthy before having a baby, my immune system seems to have been removed when Alfie was lifted from my stomach via the sun-roof! I seem to catch EVERY bug, cough, cold, sniffle going. On the whole, Alfie is actually pretty healthy. He seems to have cold symptoms sometimes, but these are usually related to teething. He’s had a chest infection and ear infection once, and also had a long episode of bronchitis when he was very young, but on the whole he seems to be very healthy. However, it appears he’s a carrier. He may not get ill from all these bugs and viruses, he just passes them on to me!
I remember once particularly awful day when I had a sickness bug. Alfie was only about 5 months old, so I was on maternity leave. We had been to a soft play centre with some family, and one by one EVERYONE was struck with a sickness bug that week. Craig was at work, so I had to spend the entire day on my own with the baby. It was awful – the highlight being because I was breastfeeding, I still need to eat and drink to keep my milk flowing, as well as the horrendous situation of actually having to feed Alfie. More than once I was being sick in a bucket over his head whilst he fed (he wasn’t bothered in the slightest and happily continued feeding through the sickness). Craig did what he could when he came home on his lunch break, and then when he got home from work, but he fact was he couldn’t feed the baby, so there wasn’t anything we could do. I just had to suck it up and get on with it. What was even worse was the fact I couldn’t have any useful medicine because I was breastfeeding!
There isn’t a lot you can do to avoid getting sick, but here are my tops tips for coping with sickness when you are struck down:
If anyone offers to come and watch the baby while you nap for a few hours – LET THEM. Don’t try and be a hero, enjoy that hour or so to catch up on some much needed rest, because it really is the best thing to help you get better. If you have kids at school, ask some fellow school mums to help with the school run so you don’t even need to get out of your pjs!
Keep your fluids up, and nibble on food as and when you can. This is especially important if you are breastfeeding, because your child will literally be sucking what little energy you have left in you!
3. Take a sick day
If you work, call in sick. Chances are your child will have childcare arranged for that day, so you can concentrate on having a day to yourself to rest and get better. Don’t feel guilty for it, you will recover quicker if you take some time to look after yourself rather than not being able to work as well because you are sicker for longer. Also, your colleagues will thank you for not spreading it round the office!
4. Let technology be your friend.
Use this time to snuggle up on the sofa watching a family movie. Switch on Netflix and let the children enjoy an afternoon of Peppa Pig, TrollHunters and LEGO Ninjago.
5. Prepare in advance!
The moment you start to feel yourself going downhill, freeze some food and make up some play boxes. This will keep the kids entertained whilst you suffer on the sofa, and it means you have some quick, easy to do meals that don’t require much effort in between running to the bathroom to throw up!
6. Take a bath with your kids
Keeps them busy and you can relax a little. (Hopefully)
7. Have a carpet picnic
Lay out a blanket on the floor and pile up some easy to prepare snacks – sausage rolls, BabyBels, Dairylea Lunchables, crackers and yoghurt in a tube! Invite your children’s teddies or dolls to join you, and let them have a whale of a time whilst you “supervise” from the sofa
8. Take a walk
If you feel well enough, put the baby in the buggy and go for a short walk. The fresh air will do you good, and hopefully send the baby off to sleep. If you can do a successful transfer into their cot when you get home, you can then use that time to take a nap! If you can, ask a friend to come with you to help push the buggy, so you still get some fresh air but don’t exhaust yourself!
9. Forget the chores
Don’t bother worrying about the state of the house for a few days. As long as you have enough clean clothes and food in the house, leave the hoover and duster in the cupboard for a while. Get paper plates and plastic knives and forks if you have to!
10. Forget the guilt!
Don’t feel guilty about not spending enough time doing wonderful, fun activities with the children at home, or taking them out to places. It won’t hurt them to learn to entertain themselves for a few days, and you don’t want to risk infecting others with your lurgy, or worse, the kids picking up more germs from places! It’s great to have a “Do what you want day” sometimes.
So basically, as hard as it may be, when you’re sick, be kind to yourself. Let others help, don’t be afraid to plonk the kids in front of the tv for a bit, and feed them easy, convenient (albeit a bit crappy) food for a few days. It isn’t going to harm them in the long run, and you’ll get better much quicker!
With thanks to the following bloggers for their contributions to this post: