‘Tis almost the season…sick season! Colds, cruds, stomach bugs — all the nasties are lurking just around the corner. And if you’re like me, the only thing harder than taking care of a sick little one is taking care of a sick little while you are also sick. Generally, I am a pretty moderate mother: a moderate amount of screen time, a moderate amount of junk food, moderate amount of time spent in pajamas.
But all that goes out that window when I’m “sick parenting” or parenting while sick.
I am a whole different parent when I am parenting while under the weather. A sick child I can handle; I’ll make all the soups, buy all the crackers, give all the cuddles and snuggles, all while working a full work shift from home. But when the inevitable happens and my sweet love bug passes me her cooties, everything comes crumbling down.
There have been times I have struggled to get off the bathroom floor, but with only me and my daughter at home and dad at work, I had to summon all the strength I had left to make it down the stairs to flop on the couch for five hours.
If I were to describe sick parenting to my non-parent friends, I would describe it as being stuck on a deserted island, save for yourself and a wild, feral-like animal when all you want to do is take a ten-hour nap. There’s no lifeboat or lifeline. You don’t want to spread the sickness, so you don’t want to call for backup. It’s just you and the wild child.
As winter is quickly approaching, my daughter has already begun upping her sickness came, bringing home a nasty cold just about every other week. I usually make it about three days before I succumb, and that’s when it happens: the household shifts from normal day-to-day activity to the wild-wild-west of “sick parenting.”
On those days, we don’t change out of our pajamas, and if we do, it’s to change out of our nighttime pjs into our daytime pjs. The house is a wreck because I can’t bring myself to get off the couch unless it’s to offer another toy to pacify a child who, even when sick, runs 100 miles a minute. Sometimes, I flick cheese flavored chips to my daughter like she’s a puppy in training; other times, I’ll literally offer her every snack or treat I can think of, just so she’ll eat something that I don’t have to cook; and in some instances, I’ll spend a whole day watching animated musical after animated musical and don’t get half of my work done because I fell asleep during my daughter’s nap time.
And you know what? That’s okay! You are allowed to watch all the television, you’re allowed to eat nothing but junk all day, and you’re even allowed to skip a day of brushing teeth (yours and the kids’!). You are allowed grace while under weather. And I promise, if you are unfortunate enough to stop by my house on a sick day, you’ll be lucky if we’re even wearing pants.
Sick parenting days are rough and I don’t like them, but we make it through them. We both eat, even if it’s just three bags of chips, seven popsicles and four candy bars; we eat, we sleep, and we make it until dad comes home. There’s no shame in sick parenting — it’s just survival!
I wish you all the luck, all the prayers, all the tissues, all the electrolytes, and all the uninterrupted naps this sick season!
For more tips on surviving “sick parenting,” click here.