Mothers are a pretty stoic bunch. We push through all sorts of hardship and discomfort to keep everything ticking over because we are generally the glue that keeps the household together.
But sometimes something will get the best of us. Recently for me it was a nasty virus that ended up with laryngitis. I probably don’t need to explain how difficult it is to parent 3 children by yourself when you have no voice.
To say it was a long couple of weeks is an understatement, but we made it through. Here’s how:
Prioritise. Letting the housework slide is a prime example. Getting worked up over the dust bunnies in the corner of the room won’t help anyone and isn’t worth your precious energy. Those dust bunnies aren’t going anywhere and will undoubtedly be waiting for you when you feel better. Do the essentials and the rest can wait.
Enlist the kids’ help. For the first few days I don’t think my kids even realised how sick I was. It wasn’t until I explained to them how painful it was for me to talk that they had some idea. They were surprisingly empathetic and cooperative after that and helped me with age appropriate jobs quite willingly.
Give yourself permission to go “offline”. Working from home means I don’t have to call in sick but it also means my work is always there. Even when I’m unwell I have a tendency to try to work through, which usually means everything takes twice as long. This time I just allowed myself to not do anything (to be honest, I wasn’t really capable of doing much at all!) I got some urgent stuff done then downed tools for a few days. If you have them, use your sick days. If you don’t, try to reduce your load however possible so your body has a chance to recover.
Ask for/accept help. This is something I’m really still not great at but when a friend offered to take my son to soccer and keep him for the afternoon I could have kissed her feet. I still felt guilty until he was brought home and I heard what a great time they all had. I’m so grateful for my friend’s offer and she knows I will happily reciprocate if she needs a hand. People are usually pretty genuine in their offers for help and let’s face it, no one will ever thank you for being a hero and pushing through.
Outsource. Whether its getting the groceries delivered, ordering takeout or paying your neighbour’s teenager $5 to walk the dog, do whatever it takes (and whatever you can afford) to get through your period of illness as painlessly as possible.
Forgive yourself if you drop the ball. We forgive other people for all sorts of things, all the time. So why are we so hard on ourselves if we mess up? Being sick led me to forget my son’s soccer team photos. I felt terrible and extremely guilty. However, once I actually talked to my son about it, turns out he wasn’t that bothered. He helped me realise that it wasn’t a dire issue and not worth beating myself up over.
Take care of yourself. The more you do, the quicker you will be back in business. Eat properly, rest, see a doctor if you need too. You aren’t much good to your family if you push yourself to the point where you are critically unwell.
Ultimately, it is all about letting yourself recover. It may seem like an inconvenience at the time but it really is the quickest way to get back in the game.