‘Tis the season to be jolly! And have runny noses, coughs, and sinus headaches, apparently.
I don’t know about you, but during the winter months, our home tends to get hit at least once with some sort of bug or another. I should know, since I’m writing to you from the middle of one. How much of an impact that bug makes depends on whether it’s a routine head cold or full-blown stomach flu. But either way, especially if you have little ones, your home is not going to run as smoothly as you’d like it to.
Here are a collection of tips to make life a bit easier during the hard times.
1) Drug it up, baby.
And this doesn’t have to be pharmaceutical drugs, if that’s not your thing. Bring on the homeopathic treatments if you know how to use them! In our home, we use both.
Have a running list of what you can use to treat what. Write down your options so when the baby is miserable and screaming in the background, you won’t have to rack your brain to remember. Congestion? Dayquil (or other natural equivalent) for you, Hyland’s cold treatment for the littles, warm compresses, dehumidifier, Vicks… check, check, check… Nausea? Mylanta works well. Try some ginger pills. Even if you’re not normally a soda drinker, keep some sprite or ginger ale on hand for upset stomachs. Keep a few extra bedsheets and towels on stand-by just in case.
If you’re working with multiple sick people in the house and juggling a lot of medication, keep a piece of scratch paper somewhere to record dosages and the times you give them. I remember accidentally dosing one child twice instead of the other and it scared me to death. After that, I’ve been very careful about keeping track of who gets what when.
2) Lower your home-running expectations.
Keep pushing that laundry through so you’ll have clean stuff, but beyond pulling out any wrinkle-susceptible dress clothes, worry about folding the rest later. It’s not the end of the world to get clean clothes out of the basket for a week.
If keeping up with dishes is too much, switch to paper. It’s a bit more expensive than washing your standard ware, but will give you more time to cuddle with your sick little ones (or take a power-nap yourself!).
3) Do something distracting.
Putting a sheet-tent together in your living room may be just the thing to get everyone’s minds off their misery. It takes relatively little energy, but seems to make the whole day special somehow. And it’s great for drinking hot chocolate or watching movies in. Which brings me to my next tip…
4) Movies are your friend.
Sick days = Couch days at our house. When everyone is healthy, we get a lot done. I can juggle preschooling my three-year-old, keeping the baby from sticking his finger in the outlets, do most of the house-chores, and help my husband with various money-making endeavors with decent efficiency. It’s much easier to deal with sibling squabbles, child questions, or training opportunities in the background when the kids are in good health. When they’re sick, however, everything changes.
Prioritize and simplify. Your children need you more than the house does. Cut out as much responsibility as you can, turn that screen on, cuddle together beneath some blankets, and don’t feel guilty about staying there a long time.
If you want to feel even less guilty about all-day movie days, be sure what you’re watching together is constructive and not just mindless entertainment. Put on a leapfrog learning movie or raid all the Bible story movies you’ve collected. You can still get good stuff into their brains, movie day or not.
5) Bring out the comfort food.
I’m not talking cookies and candy. My three year-old loves to drink hot tea with lots of honey in it. Honestly, he’s fine with just warm water and honey. The tea part is optional. I don’t mind, since honey is great for sore throats (and the kids love it for obvious reasons).
Hot soup is easy, potentially vitamin packed, and soothing. Extra points to you if it’s a meal you’ve made and frozen ahead of time. If making dinner sounds too daunting, have your husband bring home Subway sandwiches or a hot, rotisserie chicken. Something ‘healthier’ than fast food (since your immune systems need all the help they can get), but low-maintenance.
And, even though I warned you against sweets, sometimes Mom just needs a chocolate bar or two. Eat and enjoy, preferably without sharing. You deserve it. It’s hard work keeping a sick house together!
6) Just because it’s a sick day, doesn’t mean it has to be a bad day.
We are still very blessed, sick or not. Paul, even after being nearly stoned to death, whipped, shipwrecked, and beaten still found reason to give thanks and sing praises. Count your blessings where they are to be found instead of dwelling on the discomforts.
Smiling a lot, even when you don’t feel like it, will make you feel better about life in general. Put on cheerful music in the background. Remember that the kids’ attitudes are directly influenced by your own. Maintaining a positive one will actually be easier on yourself in the long run. Pamper your little ones a bit extra, but don’t let them pout and complain all day either.
7) Sleep extra, cuddle extra, laugh as much as possible.
This too shall pass. You can catch up on the house and everything else later. Today, hug and carry around your little ones as much as possible. Do your best with what you’ve been given.