I sat on the hard linoleum floor at 2:30 a.m. rocking my 3 year-old while I waited for his nausea to pass. I had been up with him for a couple of hours already and exhaustion was beginning to set in. He settled down into my lap and eventually drifted off, no longer clutching his tummy. I finally tucked him back into his bed around 3 and prayed he would sleep the rest of the night.
As I slipped back into my own bed to grab my first real sleep of the night, I knew my plans for the next day would be drastically different now. I drifted off to sleep, but was awoken again around 6:30 a.m. by another tummy ache, this time my 5 year-old. As my other children woke up one-by-one, they complained of a tummy ache and one-by-one succumbed to the virus. Any shred of a Plan I had left came to a screeching halt. I knew my day would now be filled with laundry and pandering to the needs of my sick children instead of the carpools and errands on my calendar. Dinner would likely have to be adjusted too, as their sensitive tummies probably wouldn’t be up for what was on the schedule.
I am a planner by nature and it took me years of practice before I learned how to make a 180 switch like this with any grace.
1. Immediately change your Plan ~ It can be frustrating not to be able to accomplish what you wanted to accomplish. But it is your privilege (I know it doesn’t seem that way when you are elbow deep in puke) to take care of your little ones, and even your big ones! The older they are the more they just need some sympathy. Little ones, though, may require your full attention for the day. You may be reduced to sitting around holding your sick child and doing some laundry, especially in the case of a tummy bug.
2. Remember: This too shall pass ~ Most illnesses run their course in a matter of a few days, or even a week. While it may feel eternal at the time, it won’t be long before your schedule can return to normal.
3. Adjust your Perspective ~ Enjoy the snuggle time. It won’t last forever. Before long, your littles won’t want you to hold them all day and whether you believe it or not, you just might miss it.
4. Grab a nap ~ Your children need you even more when they are sick, but you need sleep. If they go down for a nap, or are distracted for a few minutes by a T.V. show, take a quick nap. You will be no good to anyone good if you are dead on your feet, so trying to catch up on a few of those ZZZZ’s you missed out on during the night is important.
5. Ask for help ~ You can’t do it all sometimes and that is O.K. If you are sick as well, you may need to call in some reinforcements. Even if you aren’t sick, having someone run to the store for supplies can be a lifesaver. Ask your spouse, a neighbor or a family member to pitch in and relieve some of the pressure. Don’t be afraid to be Persistent when you really need help!
6. Be Pliant with all the usual routines ~ This may seem like a “Duh”, but I know how enticing it is to get back to the usual routine. Several times over the years, I have found myself pushing to get back to normal, only to be frustrated by the length of the sickness, becoming sick myself or having the sickness come back around. It may take some time to get back to “normal”. Being patient with the process will decrease your frustration.
7. Make use of comfort items ~ In my house, homemade chicken noodle soup and sprite is a must, along with lots of TV, pillows and blankets. Sometimes when there is nothing else I can do to ease their discomfort, I can offer one of these items. It may only offer a mental comfort, but often that is just what is needed.
Getting sick is no fun, but with a little mental preparation and some tips for coping, hopefully you will survive whatever may plague your family this coming winter!