Okay, so I’ve been really sick lately. It was bound to happen.
I was lucky enough that when my husband was deployed the first time and our daughter was in her Terrible Twos–with tantrums, teething, and terrors at night, and all sorts of terrific things–to have avoided the plague that crept around other peoples’ houses. If someone had the sniffles, I avoided them completely, and my efforts paid off: for that entire year, I was lucky enough to have avoided injury–either from roller derby practice, or the calamities of the common cold.
When your spouse is deployed, being sick is sort of like getting shot in the back as you’re running away from the enemy. “AUUUUGH, they got me! Save yourself!” you scream, as you fall dramatically to the ground, like in a scene from a Vietnam War movie.
Okay, well. That’s a little dramatic, but you get the idea: when you’re the sole person having to take care of the kid and the dogs and the bills and the house and school and appointments and everything and you’re suddenly out of commission…things can go from bad to worse really fast.
Our kid is an only child, and because she is, my only complaint about her has ever been that she has trouble playing on her own. It’s not her fault, really–being isolated indoors in the frozen temperatures of Alaska for most of her early childhood, I was her constant companion. I get it. So I worried when I was sick, that this would be an issue. But this kid is CONSTANTLY surprising me.
“Mama is very sick,” I croaked, because my voice would only allow a raspy whisper (another dangerous disability when you’ve got a small kid who usually needs constant vocal supervision). “Can you help me by playing on your own?” And to my surprise, she did. And there was much rejoicing.
And here’s where you have to “let go” a bit, and take care of yourself. Forget what the house looks like right now. Forget the mess, forget the dishes. We dragged out the Legos, and dumped them on the living room floor. I put a tablecloth on the coffee table, and dumped a bunch of crafts on it. Things that didn’t need much supervision, like stickers and elmer’s glue and washable paint, kid-scissors, and construction paper.
Also, a friend had just cleaned out her craft room and sent us a LOT of craft things, so that kept her busy awhile, too, and required minimal supervision…
I let her drop the Alka-Seltzer Cold tablets into water and watch them fizz, which made her feel very important. And she had fun giving me a spoonful of honey (especially when she got a little spoon for herself).
And OH! The TV! Our daughter will only watch two movies right now (she’s going through a phase where she’s afraid of “bad guys,” and won’t watch anything with bad guys in it. Um…they ALL have bad guys), so all she’ll watch is the Croods and Frozen. So we watched them over and over and over. And I didn’t really mind, because she was busying herself doing crafts, singing the songs, and keeping herself occupied while I lay all day on the couch and rested.
When I was feeling a bit better, I kept her busy with another project: I printed off some photos (mainly of myself, because hey–I can take a joke) on cardstock and told her she could paint whatever she wanted on them. Her eyes lit up.
I drew a little with her to sort of give her some ideas, and turned myself into a strangely decorated peacock or something (not at all influenced by my foggy flu delirium, I’m sure). She turned me into a purple cat.
Didn’t take much energy on my part, and I was still spending time with her. I only did one, and she got the hang of it herself.
She asked for more, and entertained herself for a couple of hours, just painting and drawing on the printouts while we watched movies.
When it’s just me and her, I can’t really lie down and take a nap. But I found I can let myself rest a little as long as she’s touching me somehow. So I lie on the couch or in bed, and she sits near my legs and plays Ipad games. This works for as long as I have physical contact with her–unfortunately, as soon as she’s up, I’m up. That’s how my mama brain works. Thankfully, the kid was WONDERFUL this past weekend and I was so very grateful for it. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have worked when she was two…
I have some issues with feeling like I need to have a handle on ALL things ALL the time. But I can’t help it–with military life, I often HAVE to, so I have trouble letting that go when I’m sick. But I forget sometimes to take care of myself. For example, it took a call from my husband from Afghanistan to remind me to get a specific medicine, since I often get overwhelmed and forget it.
But being sick, it’s OKAY to let things go that don’t matter: that laundry can wait. No one cares what your dishes look like. So your kid’s been in her pajamas all day? I’m sure she doesn’t mind. So we spent the whole weekend with the TV on? We’ll live. There are worse things out there than Sprout TV. Are you feeling guilty for not spending quality time with your kid? I’m pretty sure, with all the things in our life that we do, this one weekend of laying around the house will not affect her in a negative way. Even Supermom needs some rest.
I tell myself all this stuff because when I’m in the moment, I have trouble believing it. But it really is OKAY. Sometimes, you have to do what you have to do just to get by. As long as you’re not neglecting anyone’s basic needs, the rest can wait til you feel better.
Anyway, that’s what happens in our house when Mama’s sick and it’s just us. What do you do? Do you have any special magic tricks for feeling better and keeping the kids entertained?