5 sanity saving tips while caring for sick kids

looking after sick kids

It would be an understatement to say that last week kind of kicked my arse a bit. Hugo was sick with a virus and then an ear infection and the poor little guy needed his mum ALL the time. Which is fair enough, but with being needed in such an intense way comes a side of exhaustion that I think all parents can relate to. Getting up at 4.30am everyday, being woken at night and then gaining only an hour reprieve during the day (if I was  lucky) can quickly send you a bit crazy, which I realised when on Sunday morning at 4am I screamed at my awake children that ‘I’m not depressed I’m just tired! Go watch TV if you won’t go back to bed’ Yes, friends it was not my finest parenting hour, but that’s what a week tending to the sick on no sleep will do to you!

So, given that there will be many times when we all experience the ‘joy’ of sick children, I’ve put together five lessons from my week of snot mopping and panadol-filled syringe toting for you all.

1. Embrace the helplessness

Looking after sick kids is such a helpless feeling, but the first step to staying sane is embracing that helplessness and then get stuck into what you CAN do. It won’t be something that takes away the pain entirely but it may be something that gives your child a little bit of comfort when they’re feeling anything but comfortable. These things will almost always be excruciating for you (like watching endless repeats of Charlie Bear), but your child will feel that little bit better for it.

2. Embrace the inconvenience

It’s an unwritten rule that children will get sick at the most inconvenient of times. For me last week it was during the end of the production schedule for the magazine I work for. Print deadlines wait for no child, however sick – but having a stressed out mum, trying to do it all is no help to either party. So, I hatched a plan. With one story to finish, I went into work to get the files and information I needed, while Mr P negotiated with his work to start late. I then let my work know I’d finish my final story at home and would be in touch by email. The story was finished later that day and sent for appropriate approvals in time for the sick boy to be wanting my attention. I can’t pretend it was quite as carefree as that sounds as I was quite stressed about it, but by embracing the inconvenience and coming up with a solution that would work for me, my sick boy and my employer I felt more at ease with moving onto point number 3 …

3. Be, not do

As discussed in point one – sometimes a sick child just wants the comfort of their parent close AT ALL TIMES, as my Hugo did last week. I’m not always comfortable with sitting down for lengths of time – my head whirs with all the things I want to get done and why is my house so dirty and I need to hang out the washing and gosh, I haven’t blogged for ages (you get the picture). I found that I could feel more relaxed and almost relish my extra caring duties when I just let go of the need to DO and embraced the need to just BE. All those other things can wait … a sick child is a call to be in the now, to pay attention to what is and what won’t be for much longer.

4. Sleep when you can

It’s so tempting to use the time’s they’re asleep to catch up on all the things you didn’t get done while partaking in enforced couch time. But I found a little nap, even if it’s for half an hour, is enough to charge the batteries and improve the mood. I also put myself to bed early instead of staring blankly at a TV or computer screen and awoke the next day a lot happier for it. The day after my 4am crazy yelling bout, my husband got up to the boys while I enjoyed a couple of hours extra rest and here I am a day later feeling like a completely different person. It’s OK to insist on some extra sleep, I promise you’ll feel better!

5. Escape if you can

This one also falls into the self-care category and although it’s last on the list, it’s definitely one of the most important! Being home with a sick child all week, with noone to talk to in real life can make you go a little bat-shit crazy. So, take any chance you have to escape once the child is asleep and in the care of someone else. I didn’t feel like going to my usual yoga class but I made myself go and found a little bit of myself while doing so and on Friday I arranged to meet a friend for a meal and a glass of something bubbly. This human contact made me feel less zombie and more human and ready for whatever the next day threw at me.

So, these are just 5 of my lessons from caring for my sick child last week. What’s your best tips for looking after you while looking after a sick little one?

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Working from home and a change of s(pace)

I’ve always loved the idea of working from home. The sweet freedom of fitting your work day around the times that work for you, taking the laptop up to a cafe and enjoying a coffee and sweet, sweet inspiration. Well, that’s what working from home would look like in my dreams.

In reality,working from home with two kids looks more like the image above. And that was a good moment. At least he’s not screaming. And relatively still. Continue reading

Introducing Life & Other Plans

I really haven’t mastered this whole art of self promotion and I’m starting to think that in the blog world that is the equivalent of an ‘epic fail’ … whatever that means!

So forgive me as I muddle through this …

I have a new fancy looking blog that is appearing on The Road Ahead Lifestyle website, called Life & Other Plans.

To surmise, it’s a little like what you get here but a slightly less emotional and personal. See what I mean about my self promotion skills? I’m really selling it aren’t I? Continue reading

Mastering the art of balance

Today was the second and last day of my working week. My two-day working week seems to be the envy of my work colleagues, who like to make reference to my ‘long weekend’ or ‘holiday’ any chance they get.

But even though from the outside it may seem like I am enjoying the perfect balance of paid employment and ‘lady of leisure’ status, the reality can be quite different. As anyone juggling children and employment will tell you, some days you won’t be doing either job very well.

Take today for example: Continue reading

On procrastination and parenting

Photo by get directly down at flickr.com

Today I went to the dentist. It has been a long time between visits. So long in fact that I couldn’t even admit to myself how long it had been for fear of unleashing an unhealthy amount of self-recrimination that would only add to the procrastination and fear that’s prevented me from going all these years.

So bullet bitten here I am, teeth shiny and clean and save for a light lecture on the importance of dental hygiene, there was nothing to fear afterall. No fillings. No wisdom teeth needing immediate removal. No extra large bill. Just a ‘look after your teeth and come back in six months’. They even gave me a goody bag.

It has me thinking about how procrastination only makes things alot harder. Things that are routine and necessary become scary monsters that wake you in the middle of the night. One big ‘to do list’ that just keeps on growing. Continue reading

Easy, breezy, better?

Photo by Sarahlein on flickr.com

When I wrote Monday’s post I had little idea another article on motherhood, tucked within the light-weight confines of the Sydney’s Sun-Herald last Sunday, had attracted the wrath of many.

The article written by Jacinta Tynan, newsreader and mother to 9 month-old Jasper, kicks off with the opening line ‘There is one thing nobody warned me about when I became a mother: what a breeze it would be.’

She continues on in this fashion, explaining that after all the horror stories inflicted upon her whilst pregnant that she’s found this whole motherhood ‘lark’ is ‘a cinch’ and that she ‘can’t see what all the fuss is about’.

While admiting motherhood can be ‘tiring’ she asserts it isn’t ‘hard’ and that women these days have it easy compared to previous generations and that it’s just become ‘fashionable’ for women to play up the ‘bad parts’ of mothering.

She finished off with some examples of women trying to reel her into the martyrhood with warnings of ‘you’ll hate the night feeds’  and questions such as ‘don’t you hate the sound of their crying?’

It’s here where the smug tone of the piece becomes most evident, as it reaches its ‘riveting’ crescendo.

“Babies don’t cry to annoy us. They cry because they are hungry or tired and we are here to solve that.

“It’s just because you have an easy baby,” say mums when I confess (it feels like a confession) how much I love it.

We do have an easy baby. So far. He laughs a lot, loves his food and sleeps, well, like a baby. And I am blessed to have a stimulating part-time job and good childcare. Like most mums I have to “juggle” – just as I was warned – often presenting six hours of live TV news in a fog of sleeplessness. Until recently our baby woke at 4am. I also feel an overwhelming responsibility for our baby’s emotional well-being. But hard? No. Exhilarating and rewarding more like it.

I never knew I had such capacity to love. Nobody warned me about that.”

By the time I read the piece, the negative reactions were whirling around the blogoshere and Twitter. Mia Freedman had already posted a video interview with Jacinta on her blog where she justified the aim of the article.

I put all this out of my mind as I read the piece to see what my reaction was, purely based on my own experience  as a mother to my own nine month-old son. I then listened to the video interview.

If her aim was to celebrate the joyfulness and rewards of motherhood I think she’s severely missed the mark.

My initiation into motherhood has been hard, difficult, tiring, frustrating, all of those things to varying degrees. It has also been incredibily joyful and rewarding. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I think that by only putting voice to the view that ‘motherhood is easy’ based on her own experience and then attempting to make generalisations on how a whole generation of mothers should be coping, Jacinta has missed an opportunity to truly celebrate motherhood and has instead perpetuated the competitive spite that can be part of a new mothers experience.

On listening to the clip, she does seem to be an intuitive mother with a great deal of love for her child and a realistic sense of what being a mother involves. I only wish that she could have found a way to portray her own joyful experience without seemingly negating the experience of many mothers who are legitimately struggling with their role, who are not just ‘having a whinge’.

I would have been more interested in a piece that explored why motherhood is a joyful experience for her, based on her own personal experience. But then perhaps a Sunday paper would not have run such a piece, without the requisite ‘mothers divided’ undertone. Maybe then she would have been praised, not pilloried.

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Studies and the stay-at-home vs working mum debate

Photo by David Bleasdale on flickr.com

Another day, another study professing to have the ‘answer’ to whether the fact a mum works or not will have a detrimental affect on the lives of their child.

Today, news reports have picked up on a US study that has found that mothers returning to work before their child turns one does not have a negative effect on their babies’ development.

I always read the comments following the online reports of such stories, even though I know where they are going to go.

First there will be the those in the stay at home camp, who in this case will lambast the study as the biased work of a working mum who went to the trouble to conduct the study to make herself feel better. In this camp are stay at home mums themselves and older seemingly male readers who believe all women should be at home and if you can’t afford it, or (gasp) should you be female and want to work, then you should not bother having children.

Then there will be the those in the stridently working mum camp who will applaud the study as the ultimate truth and the long-awaited salve to working mother guilt. In this camp are working mothers and fathers who lament that they wish they could have the ‘luxury’ of staying at home but there are bills to pay and a roof to keep over their heads. Some wish they were ‘lazy enough to accept handouts like stay-at-home mothers do’ but others feel working is worth having additional luxuries for their child so they won’t go without.

Continue reading