First came the runny nose, the sniffles and the nap time resistance. Next came the lack of appetite and the cough, and before long, my 7 month old baby was loaded with the cold. We’d been fighting the inevitable since starting our nursery drop in days, but after his first full week in the breeding ground of infections that is child care, my child got sick. They say when it rains, it pours, and never before has it been so true. There can be nothing worse than having a sick child, well, other than having a sick child when you yourself are also sick. It should be a nation wide rule that those of us who have to keep little humans alive cannot get sick, but alas, it is not, and get sick is exactly what I did this month.
As a parent, there is no opportunity to sleep it off. Chicken noodle soup (warm) is not always a feasible option, and a baby doesn’t often understand the necessity to wallow in sadness on the couch with Jeremy Kyle on repeat. Parenting stops for nothing – not even a bad case of tonsillitis – something that became ever apparent this last month. It was no easy few weeks, but having made it through to the other end unscathed, I’ve realised that there were some key things that made everything a little easier.
JUST STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING
Let the housework go, let the cooking go, let the weekly baby sensory class go. It can be hard to do so and often we feel like failures for not getting around to tackling the ever growing ironing pile, or scrubbing the bathroom floor that desperately needs a good clean, but when energy is sparse, using it to do something that can be done next week is pointless. What use is a clean house when your germ ridden and spreading them daily anyway? For me, I always worry that if I lose my routine then I’ll never get it back again, but the harsh reality is that you won’t get any better by pushing yourself too much (take advantage of a week without hovering…) Don’t be afraid to not be a great mum for a day or two. Cuddle up on the couch and watch Peppa Pig on repeat, don’t leave the house, rely on pre packaged pouches for meal times and wallow in your own pity. Mums get sick too, it’s a fact of life, and sometimes, doing just enough to get by is all we can do. Your not a bad mum, your a sick mum.
DO NOT STRESS OVER ROUTINE
Routine is ever changing, heck, mines is more or less non existent. If your baby is sick, then no matter what illness they’ve succumbed to, chances are the ‘normal’ routine will disappear. Similarly, so would your own – trying to maintain it is clutching at straws, and speaking from experience, chances are you’ll make yourself ill. Give in to the world of the unexpected for a few days, embrace following the lead of your baby and the lack of fight at bedtime. Routine is something we will all need at one point, but losing it for a few days will make very little difference – well, unless you have a child like mine who takes 3 months to get into a routine and 3 days to lose it…
ACCEPT HELP FROM ANYONE WILLING TO GIVE IT
There is no shame in admitting you need a hand. I cannot stress this enough. If you have someone willing to take your little ones for a few hours, then let them. If your baby is unwell it’s understandable that you want to be there to comfort them, but remember your sick baby will still be a sick baby after 3 hours whether that be on the couch with you or on the couch with their gran. Take advantage of any opportunity to rest, and do not feel bad for taking it. I probably milked mine a little too much towards the end, what started as an obvious reluctance ended in me accepting every single offer by my mum to watch Harrison while I caught up on a bit of sleep. I’m grateful, but not sorry at all. Of course, don’t be letting every Tom, Dick and Harry who offers watch your child, but within reason accept some help.
PUT THE COFFEE DOWN
No matter what illness you are affected by, chances are, you’ll be tired. Factor in a child, your double tired and reaching for the nearest caffeinated beverage is the first thing we all do. Reaching for that coffee though can often dehydrate us further, which is the last thing you need when your unwell. The caffeine hit is a short lived one, and a crash is not what you need when your barely function. Water, any sort of fruit juice and as a last resort herbal tea, but please lord stay away from the coffee.
TAKE NO CHANCES AND EXPECT THE WORSE
If Harrison starts to get sick, I’m straight in there with Calpol, or with Snuffle Babe, or with a Vapor Plug – I’m maybe a bit to quick to jump to medicine, but being prepared and catching anything at the start has always been my approach. I take the same stance with my own health. If I feel so much as a tickle, you can almost guarantee I’ve stocked up on Vitamins and I’ll be drinking as much water as humanely possible to flush anything out: keep the basic remedies in the house at all times. Calpol, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, Chicken Noodle Soup, Fruit Juice. Be prepared for anything, and expect it all to happen. Sods law states that one shitty thing will never occur alone….
Summarised, stock up on legal drugs, take advantage of those around and make the most of the ability to watch Peppa on repeat for a few days. Being sick is hard enough, being sick with a baby is a different ball game altogether. I’ve had a hard month, but I’ve came out through the other end unscathed and I’ve learned a good few lessons about how NOT to cope. In fact, I’d even go as far to say I’m now almost looking forward to the next opportunity to mull in my own self-pity on the couch with my sick baby for a few days. (Well, maybe not quite).