The only thing worse than your children getting sick is if you get sick, too. Because then who is going to do all the things, make all the things, take care of all the people?
If Mom goes down, you have to call for reinforcements. Heck, even if Mom doesn’t go down, call for reinforcements. The flu + children = no joke. (Also, the man flu is no joke, so I’m really hoping my husband doesn’t go down, too!)
We got hit this week. And so far it’s only been my oldest and my preschooler. But I know it’ll take down more. It’s only a matter of time. Every ache I feel or sniffle I sniff I feel it coming for me… (knock on wood, please.)
Seeing my baby so sick makes my heart twist in agony. She has been laying on the couch helpless and rosy-cheeked—her temperature inching up. I want to hold her and hug her and nurse her back to health. And I’m trying.
But turns out my newborn doesn’t realize I need to clean up vomit and help her sister out of her clothes she had an accident in when she fell asleep on the couch. My toddler doesn’t seem to care too much that I *just* got the baby to fall asleep and also, her poor sick sister does not want her scream-singing Jingle Bells in her face.
I’m used to getting spit-up on again these days (#NewbornLife), but when you’re getting puked on by two or more people in your life—you know you deserve a break.
So mama, here’s what I want you to remember.
What your babies need are you.
You and your cuddles. You and your calming voice. You and your magical way of making your children feel safe and loved. That may mean missing work or letting the dishes pile up or cancelling plans—but work will still be there, plans can be rescheduled and dishes can wait. (Unfortunately they don’t magically disappear.)
If you have people you can ask, throw your pride to the wind and ask them for help. For me, that was my in-laws—they were coming down for a visit and thankfully didn’t get scared off by the flu. Instead, they did a million loads of laundry, helped administer medicine, watched my other children when I needed to bring my oldest to the doctor and didn’t flinch when they were the ones getting puked on. Lifesavers.
Try to enjoy the downtime.
Life seems so busy most days. We’re rushing here, dashing there—planning and prepping, doing and going. But when anyone in the family is sick, my personal belief system is that screen time guidelines go out the window for a couple days, we only wear pajamas 24/7 and we relax, lounge, nap, sit, lay, rest—guilt-free. Because, unlike with “real life” (not “flu life”), time ain’t nothin’ but a number, we’ve had to cancel all commitments and we have nowhere to be, nothing specific to do. It’s kind of magical.
Do something for yourself.
For me, that meant that I finally picked up a book I wanted to read and read more than two pages! It was really nice. It’s the little things in life, isn’t it? We watched a lot of movies this weekend cozied up on the couch. My kids fell asleep on me—the best feeling in the world. We made chain link decorations out of construction paper that are now covering the whole house. Beside the fevers and the inevitable worrying that comes with children getting sick, it was actually a pretty amazing weekend.
Sometimes slowing down—even if it is forced—is just what I need to feel refreshed again.
Everyone talks about the seasons of motherhood. Don’t worry, that’s just a season. This is only a season, it’ll pass. This, mama? Getting hit with whatever virus is going around isn’t even a season, thank goodness. This is just a blip. It’s a little storm passing through.
And with all storms, there is a calm. Movies and chain link crafts and cuddles were my calm. Whatever yours is, mama, I hope you enjoy it. Because we’ll be back to the rush of life in no time.
A version of this post was published January 10, 2020. It has been updated.