Weather dives; viruses thrive. Seems to be no escaping mid-winter’s incessant viral spiral.
Jackson’s got a cough; Josh, a sore throat and runny nose; Alexa’s suffering aches and a fever. Meanwhile, the only definitive prognosis? Mom’s queued to get whatever they’ve got—only it’s going to be a more severe strain and is guaranteed to last three times longer.
Isn’t there anything I can do? every mother wonders. Well actually, there is … are.
Vow to live by these 7 must-dos—at least through the season of sick.
Think of it this way: What’s good for them is good for you. Equally important, though—and the part moms tend to ignore—is what’s good for you is also good for them. So whatever you’re prescribing for them—from more liquids to extra rest—remember to take your own medicine.
- Now’s the time to up the o.j. intake. Take a multi-vitamin. Rest. Eat right. Do the tried-and-true basics to boost your immune system when known contaminants—like nasty heat-sinking missiles—are dive-bombing your eyes, nose and mouth. Resort to the unattractive-but-effective surgical mask if the illness’s severity warrants.
- “As simple as it sounds, breathe,” says Betty Fagerman, a Wheeling RN with a psychology background, who’s certified in stress management (and mother of three). “With sick kids, heightened stress is a given. Because deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which counterbalances stress’s fight-or-flight reaction, simply by deep breathing you’re automatically decompressing stress, grounding yourself and coming back to the present moment.”
- Sleep. Get enough. Enough said.
- Sanitize … everything! Position the pop-up antibacterial wipes strategically in every room. Then pop and swipe as you go. The fewer the germs, the less opportunity for the rest of the family to contract the culprits. Paradoxically, now’s not the time for zealous housework. When you know you’re on the cusp of illness—which is a given when your children are sick—conserve your energy.
- Switching off your inner caregiver requires a seismic shift in internal maternal rhythm, yet relaxation is crucial to maintaining health. “We tend to overlook the things we know when we’re immersed in the throes of caregiving,” Fagerman says. “Look for the little things that nurture you. Laughter’s a great antidote.” She suggests: escape into the bathroom for 5 minutes; vent to a friend; have a cup of tea; flip through a magazine (may we suggest Make It Better?); massage your feet. Put in a CD and—if you’re sure you’re not at risk of vomit involvement—twirl your toddler around.
- Think for a minute. Or 30. Crossword, Word Search, Scrabble, Sudoku. Read a book. Words—or numbers—being the operative denominator. Otherwise occupying your brain will give your “caregiver concern” a respite. And, after you’ve lettered in a few boxes or completed a row of numbers, your kids will appreciate the return of Calm Mom.
- Take a moment to think outside the house. Literally. When you’re surrounded by sniffles, you owe it to your family to take a break. Line up a sitter for Saturday night. Or whatever evening you can manage. Dinner with your husband. Coffee with a friend. A flick by yourself. Can only carve an hour? Go for a walk, browse in a bookstore. Whatever you do, do it for you. Sound contrary? It’s really not—rejuvenated and energized, you’ll find you’re a better mother.
When your children are sick, they need you. And if you’re nose-deep in tissues and chin-deep in covers, you’re in no position to take care of them. So give the 7 must-dos a try. Because taking care of you means taking better care of them.
Recommended to keep mom sane and smiling when the kids are sick:
Wit and Wisdom from the Peanut Butter Gang: A Collection of Wise Words from Young at Hearts by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Uplifting kids’ quotes
on family, friends, food and more…
www.spatimemom.blogspot.com/: Spa Time Mom: Self-care Promotes Ability is designed to inspire self-care for moms.
www.webmd.com: This MD-based site offers solid info and advice—check out Children’s Health to affirm your maternal instincts.
For the best places to get chicken soup on the North Shore, click here.