I know that there are new commercials out about Mommy or Daddy not being able to take a sick day, but let’s get real. Whatever magic product that a commercial is selling does not cure all illnesses! Inevitably there will be a day when a parent will be SICK! What to do?
I’m going to set up a personal scenario and use it as an example for dealing with “MOMMY’S SICK.” When we moved to Florida, my daughter was toddler. We were fortunate to be able to buy a new home immediately. We knew it had a little mold, but we also knew how to fix it, so no biggie. Ha! It turned out to be a migraine trigger for me. I’d never been to Florida, and I didn’t have any friends or family in the area.
I learned that if I had a safe place to play ready and clarified to my daughter that she wasn’t to blame, it made dealing with feeling yucky easier.
Clarify the child is not to blame
Young children think that the world revolves around them. Everything is about them. So, their natural inclination is, when Mommy gets sick, is to think it must be their fault. When a child feels like they’ve done something so awful like making their mommy sick, they may start “acting up.” This is probably the antithesis of what you need.
It really will change the atmosphere if you help your child sort this out immediately. So, if you tell her that Mommy is sick because it’s part of Mommy and convey the message she didn’t do anything wrong, it will calm everything down. You may need to convey this message more than once.
Make sure the child is safe and things are set up to be convenient for your needs
I recommend that, when Mommy is sick, the space that the child plays in gets much smaller.
Then, you can see what your child is up to and take care of yourself. This is a time to let go of some of your standards. This is hard for a lot of moms! Putting their needs first and letting go of trying to do the best for their young child isn’t always a simple matter. But, I reiterate, don’t even try to be super mom when you’re sick. Please, strive for being a mommy that keeps her child safe. Beyond the goal of safety, let go of being supermom! Be selfish! What your child needs most is a mommy who gets healthy ASAP.
You want the play area for the day to turn into an area where three major things happen: 1) you can see your young child, 2) you are as comfortable as possible and 3) you have access to what you need to take care of yourself and get well.
So instead of playing throughout the whole house, I recommend communicating to the child that Mommy is sick and today you’re playing in ______. (Fill in the blank with whatever manageable space is comfy for YOU!)
I suggest choosing a small space that has whatever you need to get well, and as I mention in the next section, preplanning makes life easier and more “doable” when you don’t feel well. Perhaps it’s spreading a quilt out in the playroom so you may lay there while your child plays. Or, if you need to be in bed in the master bedroom, so be it. Perhaps, for the day that you don’t feel well, you need to give yourself permission to let your child watch TV or play electronic games. Is this best for your child on a daily basis? NOT! However, I can’t stress enough that it is important that YOU take care of yourself so that sicknesses don’t linger.
Planning Ahead Helps
I found it harder to think out everything and take care of my daughter when I had a migraine. If I had a plan for setting up the environment, beforehand, it was easier. I began to use the environment as another adult helping me out. The three major ways I found the environment could help me out with are: 1) food, 2) toilet issues and 3) activities.
Having a container full of provisions ready (e.g., juice boxes, peanut butter crackers, or cheese crackers), felt like a life saver to me! Yes, you’d rather give your child something more nourishing for lunch, but this will do when you are sick.
Since we’re talking about young children, toileting is typically a big issue. Having what I needed available and near me for toilet needs helped. For example, being in the playroom downstairs, when the pull-ups are in the bathroom upstairs, is NOT pleasant when your head in throbbing (or whatever other illness you have)! Think beforehand about what your sick day environment needs prior to getting ill.
Think about what’s doable regarding your child’s activities. What activities might not work when you’re sick? For example, with migraines, I couldn’t stand noise! When my daughter was a toddler she loved banging on pots and pans, so I learned to put them in a basket so they were easy to move elsewhere, when needed. In addition, I learned the hard way that painting and having a migraine could lead to some undesirable results (since I wasn’t fully supervising)! When I was sick, SIMPLE was the name of the game. I would often remove a few play items, in advance, so they seemed new to her, when I re-introduced them on a migraine day.
Obviously, as you read this, you may see some of these options are NOT the best for young children EVERYDAY. However, a sick parent is worse! Please make sure and take care of yourself first. Children need healthy parents first and foremost.
I truly believe the environment can be your friend. The more you preplan, the more you may use the environment to help you.
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