Mummy, your face looks a funny colour with red bits – JD, 4
You know when you wake up at 5am to the kids leaping all over you with the usual combination of cuddles and knees to the ribs and you suddenly realise that you feel awful? Not just 5am awful. Proper awful. ILL awful.
I may not have mentioned before but I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I’ve had it, I think, for most of my life but I was diagnosed about eight years ago after I dropped to a BMI of 14, had a spell in hospital and underwent a zillion tests only to go away with pain relief and a diet record sheet – sadly, diet management, along with probiotics, is about all you can do for IBS, but I’d really got the hang of it. That is until last week when something went woefully awry.
Crippled with pain, in need of regular trips to the loo and feeling rotten, I knew that when it was time for Mark to leave for work, I’d still have to care – and care well – for our two small children. At first I found the prospect utterly daunting. Having not long transitioned from ‘mum of one’ to ‘mum of two’ and with Miss J now getting her tiny mitts into everything, I knew I would have to do things differently, but how?
Here’s what I reckon needs to be done to get through a day of teething troubles and fussy mealtimes when you’re feeling like death warmed up.
Feel sorry for yourself…
Mark was lovely. He’s always lovely when I’m ill – actually he’s just lovely – but come 9am he’d gone and I still felt like poop. So like any good mum, I took the sensible first step and…rang my mum! Not to summon her to my aid, you understand, more so I could get a bit of sympathy and a pep talk. See I’m grown up like that. Somehow it made me feel better. So I say swoon, call someone, tweet about how awful you feel and bask in the sympathy for a minute.
…but then suck it up
You’re not going to change your situation by whinging now are you? (Thanks, Dad, for that gem) So next thing to do, I reckon, is just flipping well get up and get on with it. Put the kettle on, take a deep breath and prepare to power on through your bug with gritted teeth.
Give up your cape
You cannot be Supermum/dad while you’re feeling ill. Your kids are NOT going to hate you if you ditch the craft activities, baking sessions and forest adventures for a few days and resort to simpler forms of entertainment such as the blessed TV box. Seriously, give yourself a break.
Take any help you’re offered
No, no I’m fine. Oh no, I don’t want to be any trouble. Ah no, we’re coping. All said between heaves / sneezes / wheezes / shivers? Stop being a banana and take help while it’s going. I know how lucky I am to have Mark, a hands-on, committed dad. Seriously, some people really do have to do this totally, utterly alone 24/7 – my mum brought up us four children with pretty much zero help, which can’t have been fun at times – so if someone you trust wants to help pick up the slack, let them, just let them.
Pretend the apocalypse is coming
If getting out to the shops is sapping your last bit of energy and making you feel like you’ve run a marathon, try to plan for everything you’re likely to need for the next few days and get it all at once. Or better yet, do an online order. I survived by sending Mark out on the first evening to stockpile nappies, put extra loaves of bread in the freezer, and fill the cupboards with pasta, tinned tomatoes and other basic essentials like it was the beginning of World War Z.
Accept your new curfew
Finally, when the kids go to bed – and I can’t stress this one enough – GO TO BED. It took me a while to realise that thinking I could continue to use the evenings to get other stuff done was nothing short of madness. Your body gives you an early curfew when you’re ill – obey it or it will just punish you all the more severely in the morning.
So, your turn. How do you survive the dreaded lurgy?