Parents Don’t Get Sick Days

Ah, cold and flu season. Boo you. The last week has been rough, and it’s been one of those times when reality hits and I think, Oh, wow, I’m responsible for another person, and he needs me whether I’m feeling 100% or not.

It started when my baby got sick last weekend. We got to pay a Saturday morning visit to the pediatrician (every mom’s favorite thing to do), where my son was diagnosed with pink eye and a cold. Unfortunately, as we know, there’s not much you can do for a cold except ride it out, but the doctor did prescribe some lovely eye drops for the pinkeye.

If you haven’t ever tried to put eye drops in the eyes of a tired, sick, 10-month-old, lemme tell you, you are missing out. Oh a torturous experience. So we were putting drops in his eyes twice a day and wiping his nose about 7 million times a day. Meanwhile, my bad cold was brewing, unbeknownst to me.

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And then my husband went on a week-long business trip.

Yeah, that’s the worst part. Here I was with a sick baby and then a couple of days later, I woke up with the cold. Not a sniffly, scratchy throat cold. We’re talking full-on body aches, sore throat, congestion – the whole shebang. Before my baby was born, I would have just taken the day off (one of the big perks of being self-employed), crawled in bed, and watched Netflix all day. Oh, and taken whatever medicine I wanted. But here I was with a baby who needed pretty much constant attention (and who I had to wrestle twice a day to get drops in his eyes) and – bonus! – because I’m still breastfeeding, there wasn’t a huge choice of medicines for me to take to help me get through it. And I had no husband coming home at the end of the day to relieve me.

So, what’s the answer?

Suck. It. Up.

Yep. I did have some help from family, which I greatly appreciated. But everyone has their own stuff to do, and I had to figure out how to get through the week. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned when you’re home sick with a baby:

  1. Cut yourself some slack: this is the time to turn on the TV for older kids, or put the littler babies in their bouncers or on their playmats and let them go. William was so good this week about playing with toys on his own. It was me lying on the couch for a lot of the day, with the TV on, and him playing with toys on the rug in front of the couch. When I was feeling up to it, I got down on the floor and played with him, or pulled him onto the couch with me to read some books. But he spent a lot of time playing on his own (supervised, of course), and while I did feel guilty, I knew that a few days wouldn’t hurt anyone.
  2. Ask for help: I probably should have done more of this. I had several offers of help from family members that I politely refused because I didn’t want to get them sick and because, to be honest, my house was a disaster and I didn’t want to let anyone in. But let your sister come pick up your kids and take them to the park for an hour to play and give you a break. Let your friend take them to school. The more rest you get, the more quickly you’ll get better. Don’t be a martyr.
  3. Be nice to yourself. When your baby is napping, or after your kids are in bed, take a hot bath or shower to ease your symptoms. Stay in your PJs or put on your coziest sweats, and put clean sheets on your bed. If you’re up to eating, indulge in a couple of your favorite foods. Treating yourself a little can take the edge off the fatigue and keep you in better spirits.

Mommies and daddies don’t get sick days – one of the harsh realities of parenting. Take care of yourselves and your families, and I wish you a happy and healthy winter season!

What are your tips for making it through an illness as a parent?

Emma is mommy to one-year-old William and wife to Bill. She was born and bred in Baton Rouge, attending Episcopal High School, the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU and the LSU Law Center. Married since 2010, she is loving her new life as a mother. She is an attorney but has limited her practice for now so she can stay home with William full-time, and she feels so fortunate to be able to do that. She is learning as she goes, rejoicing in every milestone and happy moment as well as working her way through the challenges that come with parenting. When she gets a chance, she loves reading, writing, and watching movies. She and Bill are both lucky enough to have their families close by and love spending time with them. She looks forward to seeing her little boy grow and eventually expanding her family. Motherhood has been the most fulfilling role of her life.

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