Monday, February 3, 2014

5 tips for staying sane while caring for a sick child

Our family has been sick for more than a week now. It started off about 10 days ago when Ethan showed signs of a cold. A few days later, I got sick and a few days after that my husband got sick. I don't know what virus this is, but it's taking a toll on us. The doctor said it could last up to two weeks. Two weeks with a sick child? Just shoot me already.

I'm already half-crazy, but maybe these tips will help you when your little one gets sick. I interviewed a pediatrician once for an article and she told me kids are sick about 25% of the year. Brace yourselves - illness is coming.

Tip #1 - Embrace the suck - Much like the Denver Broncos in yesterday's Super Bowl, you have to accept the fact that you're losing this battle. There's no going back in time to put on an extra jacket, skip daycare or grab XYZ before it went into your little one's mouth. The damage is done and you have to move forward. Don't waste time beating yourself up. Kids are going to get sick. Once you accept that you're in it for the long haul, it's a lot easier to deal with the fussiness.

Tip #2 - Don't get sick - I rarely get sick and didn't bother with extra vitamin C or zinc when E's symptoms started up. Epic fail. A few days after E got sick, I did too. And you know what's worse than treating a sick child? Treating a sick child when you're just as sick. If you get sick, make sure you take care of yourself. Drink hot tea, take steamy showers and take your medication. I hate taking meds because I'm still nursing, but I checked with my doctor and I can safely take Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl. Once I started treating my symptoms, I felt better and was more capable of taking care of E and eventually, my sick husband.

Tip #3 - Start a medication board - This is especially important if you're sick as well. You may think you'll remember the times everyone took their meds, but unless you're Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, you probably won't. I repurposed our "to do" board into a medication board. I like to list the time and date each medication is taken as well as when you can take the next dose. This is also helpful when there's more than one person treating the child. Lists on your phone won't do you any good if someone else is giving them medication!

Tip #4 - Enjoy some down time - When my son was sick the last time, he wanted to be held all day. All he'd do was eat and sleep. It made for a pretty easy ride for both of us. The worst for me was occasional butt numbness and crappy television. Those hardly register as complaints, right? But now that he's older, he still wants to play. He wants to crawl around and body slam the dog, but he's also extra fussy. He doesn't want his nose wiped and arches his back each and every time I come at him with a tissue. He doesn't want to sit in his high chair and eat so he throws his body back and forth. I thought tantrums started when they became toddlers. LIES. Right so by the time he goes down for a nap, I'm ready for a break. This is when you should take some "me" time. Watch television, read a book, take a nap. Do NOT do the laundry, dishes, take out the trash, insert other lousy chore here. If you try to do it all, you'll get burnt out.

Tip #5 - Get out of the house - I hate being in the house when everyone is sick. There's a general gross feeling that I can't shake. If you get a chance to get out of the house, take it. Let your spouse take charge while you go to the grocery store or run to the post office. I'm not suggesting you head out to a winery and stop for gelato, but go run some errands and get some fresh air. Try to remember what the sun looks like. It's important to remind yourself that the real world is still functioning even though your household is at a standstill.

Overall, being sick or taking care of someone who is sick is a lousy way to pass the day. It's hard work and requires a lot of patience (which is often short if you're sick, too). Try to remember that this will pass and you'll be back to your normal routine in no time. When you finally start feeling healthy, I also recommend prepping for the next virus.

- Stock up on medication
- Make freezer meals (who wants to cook when you're sick?)
- Load up on tissues, sanitizers
- Make sure you have comfort items like tea, eucalyptus oil, chocolate

Wishing you many sick-free days!


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