Parenting while sick sucks. It sucks to be sick, but not having someone there to look after you makes it feel worse for some reason. Whether you have a common cold, the flu, or a more serious illness, self-care plays a significant role in helping your body heal.
I am notorious for not asking for help.
And there was one year I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed for three days. I was single and had little kids and just couldn’t do it. After a lot of convincing, I let my mum take the kids so I could recover. I’ve learned a few tricks to parenting while sick over the years and wanted to share how I get through it. Because, even though we mums are superheroes, we aren’t superimmune!
Parenting while sick – 14 things to do
1. Rest and Sleep
One of the most critical aspects of recovery is getting plenty of rest and sleep. When you’re sick, your body needs extra energy to fight off the illness, and sleep is an essential component of that process. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night and take naps during the day if needed. Of course, when you’re parenting while sick, this can be tricky!
2. Hydration And Nutrition
Drink plenty of fluids, including water, herbal teas, and clear broths. Staying hydrated helps to thin mucus and soothe a sore throat. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you. Stick to easily digestible foods like chicken soup, oatmeal, and toast. These foods provide nutrients without putting too much strain on your stomach.
3. Over-the-Counter Medications
Consult a healthcare professional or pharmacist to determine which over-the-counter medications are suitable for your specific symptoms. Medications like pain relievers, decongestants, and cough syrups can help alleviate discomfort.
4. Keep Warm
Maintaining a warm and comfortable environment is vital. Bundle up in blankets, wear warm clothing, and use a space heater or warm mist humidifier to keep the air moist and comfortable.
5. Practice Good Hygiene
Always wash your hands thoroughly and frequently to prevent the spread of germs. Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue to avoid contaminating your hands and the surrounding environment. If you have a contagious illness, like the flu or a cold, it’s essential to stay home and avoid contact with others to prevent the spread of the disease.
Regularly disinfect surfaces and objects that you frequently touch, such as doorknobs, light switches, and your cell phone. This prevents the further spread of germs.
6. Manage Stress
Stress can weaken your immune system, so take steps to manage it. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and gentle yoga can help alleviate stress and promote healing.
7. Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you’re feeling particularly tired, don’t push yourself. Rest is a critical component of healing.
8. Hydrate Your Skin
Dry skin can be a side effect of fever and dehydration. Use a gentle, unscented moisturiser to keep your skin from becoming too dry and itchy.
9. Stay Informed but Avoid Over-Googling
While it’s essential to educate yourself about your illness, be cautious about endless internet searches. They can lead to unnecessary anxiety and misinformation. Not everything is a death sentence. Stick to reliable sources and consult a healthcare professional for any concerns.
10. Open the Windows
After a day or two of being in bed, open some windows to let the sick out and some fresh air in. It can do wonders for motivating you to move about, have a shower or even sit up for a while.
11. Create a Sickness Kit
Prepare a kit with essentials like water, snacks, tissues, hand sanitiser, your medications, and anything else you might need. This makes it easier to have everything within reach, especially if you need to spend a lot of time in bed.
12. Be Patient
Recovery takes time, and some illnesses can linger longer than you’d like. Be patient with your body and give it the time it needs to heal. Yes, parenting while sick is hard but it won’t be forever. You will recover!
13. Accept Help
Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from friends or family. They can help with chores, grocery shopping, and providing emotional support.
14. Follow Medical Advice
If a healthcare professional prescribes medication or treatment, be sure to follow their instructions carefully.
What about the kids?
If you have small kids to care for while you’re under the weather and you are alone, here are 7 things you can try:
1. Create A Cosy Space To Rest, And To Entertain the Kids
Prepare some simple activities, games, or movies that can keep your kids entertained while you rest. Close exit doors to the room so you don’t have to chase them if they escape. This might be a good time to let them have a bit more screen time if it helps. If they can read, ask them to read you a story or read to younger siblings.
2. Plan Activities
Set up a designated area with activities, books, games, or movies to keep your kids entertained. Consider educational apps or programs that can engage and entertain them.
3. Again, Ask for and Accept Help
Reach out to friends, family, or neighbors for assistance. They can help with childcare, meal preparation, or other household tasks. If your kids are school-aged, inform their teachers about your situation. They may be able to provide additional support.
4. Stock up on Essentials
Ensure you have a supply of easy-to-prepare meals, snacks, and drinks that your kids can access independently. Keep essential items like nappies, wipes, and medication within reach.
5. Maintain a Routine
Stick to a simplified routine to provide a sense of normalcy for your kids. This can include regular meal times, naps, and bedtime. Communicate the plan with your children so they know what to expect.
6. Rest When Possible
Take advantage of nap times or quiet periods to get some much-needed rest. If possible, consider enlisting someone to watch your kids for a short time while you take a break.
7. Stay Connected
If you’re isolating yourself to prevent the spread of illness, use technology to stay connected with your kids. Video calls can help you check in and provide reassurance.
Remember, if you’re parenting while sick, it’s okay to ask for help, and taking care of yourself is crucial for a faster recovery. We are not superwomen (but we’re damn close). Having a plan in place and accepting assistance means you can ensure you and your children are looked after so you focus on getting better.
What to read next
- Daycare Sickness: How to Cope as a Working Parent
- We Had No Idea We Were Poisoning Ourselves: Family’s Monday Sickness Mystery Solved
- 4 Ways to Cope When the Whole Family is Sick
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