Recently I was under. Not under the weather so much. Under the knife. Under anesthesia. Having my gallbladder somehow removed from four tiny cuts in my abdomen. The thought of how it actually happens makes me nauseous to think about. I’m sure I could google it. But I’ll spare myself the details, thank you very much.
As I came home from ridding myself of my diseased organ, I realized how very true it is that mom’s don’t get sick days. If I were working outside the home, I’d simply let my boss know I was having surgery and would be out for a week. But try telling that to your tiny bosses at home! Oh no!
My 5 year old boss is not normally a cuddly or clingy child, but tell her that mommy isn’t feeling well and needs to rest and she suddenly cannot get enough of you. My first day home was a blur. Thank you anesthesia and pain meds. But I do remember the kids all coming in the room crying because they wanted me to sing the night night song to them before bed.
Honestly, I don’t know if I sang the real song, how the words came out, did I even sing?! But whatever came out of me, the kids seemed content and I guess went to bed.
Or was I just dreaming?!
The next morning I decided to hang out in the living room so the kids could at least see me and know that I was still their mom. I felt terrible because I hadn’t held the baby in like 24 hours, and mommy guilt. All the mommy guilt. Of course, after ridding yourself of your nasty gallbladder, you’re not supposed to lift anything over 10 lbs. Insert chuckle here. We moms know that’s not even a thing. I held my sweet babe for a few minutes before he started to get all wiggly and then I remembered those four lovely incisions.
Anyway, my husband took off work over the weekend so he could be on mom duty. He did awesome! But then he had to go back to work on Monday. Sad face.
I stopped taking the really good pain meds because, well, it says not to operate heavy machinery while taking it, and I kind of feel like children are similar to heavy machinery. So.
When you’re under the weather as a mom, whether it be from surgery, you have a cold or some nasty disgusting stomach bug, you just need to take a break. But breaks are hard to come by as a mom because of those tiny bosses that control us.
Here's how to have a sick day when you're a mom:
Forget all the things: Don’t even worry yourself with laundry and dishes and toys piling up in the weirdest places in the house. Those pesky little things the kids do that for the life of you you can’t figure out why it bothers you...yeah, let those go. For me (and forgive me for being so weird), it’s pillows. The kids LOVE to scatter all the pillows around the house and I can’t figure out why. And I can’t figure out why it’s so annoying to me! But they do it. Day in and day out they do it. Pillows everywhere. Why do we have so many pillows?!
But whatever is going on, let it happen. Unless, of course, it’s a hazard. Then yeah, obviously worry about that. Maybe do something about it too.
For real though, forget all the things because you need to rest and the dishes and laundry can wait.
Tell the little bosses the plan: After my surgery I had to tell the kids that mommy doesn’t feel well so I’m not going to be able to do all the things. I had to tell them that I couldn’t hold them like I normally do, that I couldn’t play with them or take them anywhere. I could read them books though!
Convenience Trumps the Mom of the Year Award: I know we moms strive to be the best and do the best for our tiny crew of people. We want to make sure they are eating healthy, not having too much screen time, getting in plenty of outdoor time and physical activity, blah blah blah. Sick days have no time for such things. Toss out the handbook that says your kids need scrambled eggs for breakfast, fancy organic vegetarian thingamajigs for lunch and a delicious made-from-scratch gourmet dinner that all the kids actually eat and enjoy.
Set out a box of breakfast bars and toss some cheerios on the table. Breakfast. Put cups out for them and make it easy for them to get their own water. Have some easy to reach snacks in the fridge or on the counter that they can just grab. I put apples, grapes, carrots and cheese sticks all on a low shelf in the fridge. And have easy things like fruit snacks and peanut butter crackers in a basket on the counter.
Typically lunch is all the fruit and little snacks. It is what it is. It’s not every day and I’m not going to let mommy guilt kick in over a day or two of snacking all day in place of real meals.
For dinner...order out or make frozen pizza. Do whatever is easiest and most convenient. Typically the hubs will stop at the store on his way home from work and grab something easy. Who cares. We are trying to survive here.
Put the television on and let it do it’s job. Your kids will not be worse for the wear after a day or two of mostly tv interaction. If they’re a little bit older, have crayons and paper/coloring books out on the table and let them color to their hearts content. Props if you can get them to make you a ‘feel better’ picture!
For the little ones, really baby proof an area and make that the baby zone. For me, it was the living room and play room. I closed all the other doors and put up gates so our little guy couldn’t get into anything. I barricaded the end tables and fireplace with ALL those pillows. I may or may not have tossed a few cheerios on the floor ;-|
Try to make it special for them: Since taking a ‘sick day’ is so rare, I leave the mommy-guilt behind and try to just make it a special once-in-a-while treat for the kids. Yeah, my sickness is a treat to them. Mom’s are so awesome.
We basically have a movie/tv show marathon and they get to do all the things (most of the things) I never let them do; watch endless t.v., eat junk for meals, snack all the day long. I say things along the lines of “You get to have a fun kids day today and do all the fun things. Mommy is just going to rest here while you kids have so much fun!”
Get Comfortable: You know we moms never get out of our pajamas all day long anyway. Well pick out your MOST comfortable pair, make the couch a cozy haven, and place all of your sick person necessities within arms reach (but preferably out of reach of the tykes!). Lock all the doors, close the curtains, dim the lights and STAY PUT as much as possible. Like on Daniel Tiger “When you’re sick rest is best, rest is best”. (Gosh I need to get out more...)
Insist on Nap/Quiet Time: In our normal daily routine we have an allotted nap/quiet time. My 9 month old and 2 year old both take an afternoon nap at the same time. While they are sleeping, my 3 year old and 5 year old have quiet time alone. They stay in their own rooms for one hour and then I let them watch something until the other two wake up. It’s typically a glorious two hours of quiet.
Having this allotted time is really nice when I’m not sick. But it’s 10 times better when I’m feeling under the weather because I can literally lay on the couch for nearly two hours without worrying about small people getting into things or getting hurt.
Obviously this is much easier said than done. Babies can’t change their own diapers or get their own food. Potty training kiddos can’t just suddenly start going on their own. And no matter how much you try to baby/kid proof your designated area, someone is still likely to get hurt. As a mom, you’re still going to need to be a mom and attend to your kid’s needs and wants.
BUT if you can set it up to be as easy and convenient as possible, you’ll get a little more rest than normal.
For me, it wasn’t easy recovering from surgery with 4 kids. I was just not feeling the normal everyday mom activities. But setting the kids up to be independent and have a fun ‘kids day’, and settling my frail body on the couch for the duration of the day was a real life saver.
How do YOU survive sick days with kids in tow?!