From the moment our children were born, we became instant, full-time caretakers. We cook their food, wash their clothing, tend to their wounds and change their stinky diapers. Strangely, we do it with a smile—most of the time at least. Why? Because we love them.
Love compels us to care for our children and our families with tenderness and compassion. It buoys us when we are up in the night with our teething babies. It fills us with grace to love them, even in the midst of a tantrum. It arms us with superhuman strength to protect our them from harm.
However, in my experience, when we, our kid(s), or our husbands gets sick, all that patience and grace goes out the window.
Sick days were hard enough, even before our kids came along, but at least then we could hide under the covers and be alone. As a mom with a chronic illness (Lyme disease), I already wrestle daily with my lack of energy, focus and stamina. Tack on a cold or a stomach flu and I start to feel like a camel with one too many straws on my back.
But the truth is, sick days as a mom are as inevitable as they are doable.
If we can build healthy mindsets today (before we get sick), we will be much better equipped to handle it when the next cold or flu strikes our homes.
The next time you or your family get sick, arm yourself with these five truths:
1. It’s okay to watch TV today.
We all know that too much screen time is not good for us or our children, but when it comes to getting sick, it’s time to let go of that–just for a short time. Repeat after me: “My only goal today is to survive.” Say it again if you need to, mama.
2. You have permission to slow down.
It’s one of life’s cruel jokes that moms don’t get paid sick leave. However, on sick days, give yourself permission to be “off duty” from all household tasks that aren’t absolutely necessary. Instead, take time to be with your family, care for their needs and sleep any chance you get.
This is easy to say, but harder to put into practice. As a Type A personality, I often find myself working too hard on sick days. If you struggle with this too, keep in mind that if you can rest, you will heal faster. This means that you’ll be back to your tasks in no time.
3. You deserve rewards for getting through the day.
Our kids aren’t the only ones who need to rewards for their good behavior. I don’t know about you, but there are very few things I can’t get through when I have the promise of a cookie at the end of the day.
When I’m struggling on a sick day, I give myself a tangible reward to look forward to when everyone goes to bed—like dessert or an episode of my favorite show. It helps me rally when the day feels so long.
4. Stay connected in order to stay sane.
Being sick, particularly when you are contagious, can be isolating. Cabin fever can sneak in real fast. Don’t give in to the isolation or let yourself sink down into your negative thoughts. Instead, find a way to connect.
Consider setting up a video chat date or text chat with another mom. No one in the world will know how you are feeling better than they will. Engage as much as you are able and share your struggles and frustrations.
5. This is the perfect day to soak in the cuddles.
The one and only good thing about our kids getting sick is that they tend to be extra cuddly. Take the time to sit and hold them. They are growing up fast and they need you today.
Think of sick days as a pause button in their lives–not a wasted day to be rushed through. Sometimes the hardest mom days can be the most memorable, when we take the opportunity to bond with our children.
Let’s face it—regardless of how much you prepare for sick days, they are going to be tough. However, if we can give ourselves grace and learn to rest and tend to our own needs when possible, we will all be a lot better off when they strike. You’ve got this, mama.