What do you do when both parents/caregivers are sick? I have previously argued about who’s sickness is of more significance, the working partner’s or the stay-at-home-spouse’s? This is not that kind of a post and I don’t have an answer but I have a few lessons that I would like to share from what I learned as a result of this happening to us.
Now, I have nothing against the common cold. For years, I found the idea of getting a flu shot, a ridiculous practice that was meant to appease the hypochondriacs amongst us. So you get sick…big deal. That is something our body needs to do to become stronger, dust those immunity-boosting cells by giving them a jolt of adrenaline, and in general, give our bodies a much needed break from the busy-ness with which we surround ourselves.
Then, I got pregnant.
A protective instinct toward one’s fetus that kicks in from the moment you find out you are pregnant, completely puts to shame any lingering ego issue related to well…pretty much anything, but particularly something as relatively benign and actually helpful, as a flu shot. I have been getting flu shots regularly since 2013 now.
Except, I didn’t get one this last year. Why, you ask?
Because between getting my two kids their flu shots and doing everything else that I need to get done, I have had no time to drag my own behind to a health clinic or my doctor’s office and get a shot for myself. Aaron got one at the clinic at work. And to think…I probably need a flu shot more than anybody else in this house…okay the kids do, but still.
Starting Saturday last week, first Aaron fell sick, followed by Baby E who had fever for a night, then I fell sick with a minor cold and cough, and it took until Sunday for TJ to get a fever that lasted all day. Just when we thought we were done with this craziness, Aaron fell sick again and I did too, that same evening continuing into the next day. We both had tremendous body aches and cold chills. I also got a fever. It was finally after taking a dose of Ibuprofen that my fever finally broke and I started feeling human again. Now, Baby E is ill again with a fever, runny nose, and occasional sneezes and coughs.
Even as we are still recovering there are a few things I learned (still learning) along the way:
7 things I learned from the experience of us both (parents) falling sick.
- When life creates two sick parents, continue to remain a team. Help each other out. Kindness and empathy still go a long way. Don’t become another sick child and expect your spouse to parent you.
- Soups are really good while sick, especially the brothy kinds. Remember to make them more liquidy so you can breathe in the steam to clear your nasal passages. The only problem I have with store bought ramen noodles is the ridiculous amount of sodium. One soup that I bought without reading labels at my local Japanese store had a daily sodium content of 81% EIGHTY-ONE!!!
- Swallow your pride and take some medicine. Forget about your rationale for letting your body do its thing or nature taking its course. Save those for the days when kids are older or when they don’t live with you anymore.
- So the house will be a mess for a little while, who cares? So be it. Just do the bare minimum if you can. If not, just get to it when you can.
- If you need supplies or are lucky enough to live in a city with multiple delivery options, take advantage of them. I have only tried Amazon Prime Now and used it twice in the last week (have used it multiple times before this week as well) and it really helps to at least have all my basics stocked up.
- Let go off your TV/Tablet watching time limit for your kids. If you aren’t up to it, just let them watch a little longer than they usually do. If they have never done this before, don’t feel guilty about starting now. Your first priority is to get better. Everything else comes second or thirty-third.
- Don’t stress over cooking. Order in or get food delivered. Order pizza, if you have to.
Still sick, there were five things I learned that are specific to my family:
- TJ loved getting so much TV-Tablet watching time. He would lose interest at times but even if he was playing with his trains, he still needed the TV on as background. While I was not pleased with this, I was happy that for an almost three-year-old, he sure did have some great attention span (of the wrong kind!). I also learned that once he loses interest, he wants to be with us, with me. Kids don’t like their parents being sick either (even when it means extra TV time for them). TJ would climb into my chair to be with me and just hang out with me there, sometimes even resting his head on my lap, tired himself. Perhaps from watching too much television.
- Baby E can be fairly independent already. I would leave her in her safe “Baby Zone” (basically a wall of large toys) and watch her entertain herself for at least 5-8 minutes while I rested my eyes or took a quick snooze. After a while though, she would break free, and follow me to where I was seated, wanting to be picked up and hugged. She has learned to reach out to us with one hand and that is just the cutest, most adorable thing she can do as a baby now. When a baby shows her love for you by reaching out to you, there is little you can do to resist wanting to reach back at her by picking her up and hugging her. (this was BEFORE she fell sick, as I write this, that poor baby is in her crib, restlessly “sleeping” because of her own fever)
- We like a clean house so much that even in the midst of our worst sickness, even if it is the bare minimum, we do clean up the messes in the kitchen, and on the dining table. We straighten up and put away all the toys strewn around, and generally, make the living room more inviting for when we come downstairs the next morning. This usually worked because we were both on the power of medication by that time of the day and had our fevers/bodyaches, etc. under control.
- TJ has taken on a new obsession with actually wanting to take medicine. Last year, when he got his fever that lasted 4-5 days, a couple weeks after Baby E was born, he drove himself and us crazy with his refusal to take medicine. In fact, it was so bad, that I remember the exact moment (I can still see it in my head), his obsession with stickers began. That was one of the days he refused his medicine and I promised him Thomas the Train Mini Dots Stickers if he took it. He did and I gave him his sticker. Since then, pretty much everything he does, needs to be incentivized. Now, he wants to take medicine all the time. Last night, he even went to bed holding his little Motrin medicine measuring cup and was holding on to it all day for some reason including taking it to bed at nap time.
- TJ can be very thoughtful. Every time I cough, he gently reminds me, “You need medicine, Mommy” or “Daddy, take medicine”. We wonder if he is going to become a doctor like grandpa. Yesterday he said, “Take a cough drop, Mommy”.
We are still under the weather. We are all still sick. No fevers, thankfully, but ever single one us, including Baby E, is stuffed up, is coughing, occasionally sneezing, and has some degree of a sore throat as well. Sigh…just want this to end already!