Everyone knows that raising kids demands a lot of time, energy, and sacrifice. These are things that parents all willingly do, dedicating themselves to providing everything their children could possibly desire. We get up when it’s still dark outside to make packed lunches, and play chauffeur as they tour a thousand and one different after school clubs– and we do these things willingly.
However, there will be periods in your life when you suddenly… can’t. More than anything, you want to be able to get up and go about your life as normal, taking care of your kids and blasting through your to-do list, but circumstances have said otherwise.
The causes of “Mom down”
There are two main reasons you may find yourself incapacitated. The first is illness; maybe you’ve caught a dose of the ‘flu or just aren’t feeling yourself– whatever the cause, the result is that you can barely find the energy to sit up in bed, never mind go through your usual routine.
The second cause of “Mom down” is injury; perhaps you tripped when walking down the stairs, or have suffered a personal injury that requires the assistance of the likes of Babcock Partners to resolve. Either way, you find yourself struggling for your usual mobility. In some ways, injury is even more difficult to cope with than illness; you otherwise feel fine, but there’s a part of you that just isn’t working like it should. This can be incredibly frustrating.
Whether it’s illness or injury that is the cause of your sudden inability to parent quite like you usually would, you’re going to need to figure out how to cope– and that can be easier said than done. Below are a few generalized suggestions that should apply to most circumstances, so if you ever find yourself in a “Mom down” situation, you’ll be able to both parent and take care of your own health needs at the same time. Here’s how to do it.
#1 – Don’t be afraid to rely on others
Whether it’s your partner, your parents, or your best friend, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re going to have to rely on others during your convalescence. Your kids’ lives are going to continue, but you’re not going to be able to assist in the way you normally would. Relying on others is a key part of helping to ensure a good continuity of life for your children until you recover.
If you are struggling for support — either due to lack of choice or people being too busy to assist — then it is worth considering part-time help, such as a nanny, while you’re in recovery. This is only necessary for long-term conditions, as most kids will adjust fine to a week or two of life not quite as they know it, but if you’re going to be down for longer, then you may want to consider the professional options.
#2 – Follow your treatment tips exactly
How often do you do exactly what your doctor tells you?
If you’re anything like 99.9% of people, the answer to the above question is likely to be… sometimes. Most of us follow doctor’s orders until they become inconvenient to us; we don’t finish a course of antibiotics because we forget, or we push ourselves a little too far when we’re really not well enough to do so.
If you want to get back to normal as quickly as possible, do try to follow all the advice from the medical professionals involved in your care. Of course, this is tough. It’s difficult to resist the urge to just drive your youngest to soccer practice or head to the grocery store to pick up your child’s favorite meal, but resisting is actually beneficial in the long run. Resisting ensures that you will recover, fully, faster. It’s better to be “down” for two weeks completely than for four weeks while struggling.
#3 – Let the usual rules slide
When you are restricted as to where you can go and what you can do, you may need to lift your usual restrictions on how much TV your kids can watch or whether or not they can play indoors. If this is the case, it’s fine. A few weeks of this isn’t going to harm them, and you can return to normal as soon as you’re back on your feet. A little indulgence that gives you space to recover should be beneficial for both you and your children in the long run.
#4 – Be honest with your kids
No matter how young your children are, they will want to know what’s happening and why you’re not your usual self. Children are very perceptive and sensitive, and even if you just smile and insist you’re fine, they’re going to be able to intuit that you’re not.
You don’t need to go into graphic details in terms of an explanation on your health, but a basic explanation is better than just saying “I’m just tired, honey” or “I need to sit down for awhile”. If possible, try and relate the situation something they have experienced: “remember when you had that tummy bug and had to sleep for a few days? It’s like that for mommy right now…”. This helps them to understand the situation, even if they don’t quite comprehend the reason behind it.
#5 – Practice absolute germ control
If you are ill with a condition that can be passed between people, it is wise to introduce strict germ control into your home– even if that means going without those precious hugs from your children for a few days. This is tough, but it’s necessary. You’re not going to have the strength to care for your kids if they fall ill too, so avoidance can sometimes be the safest bet.
Of course, avoidance is no guarantee that illness won’t spread; bugs do tend to pass through a family very quickly. However, taking a few steps to limit the risk of the infection spreading is better than nothing, and hopefully luck will be on your side too.
When you’re unwell or injured, the fact that you can’t be as active and involved in your kids’ lives is always going to grate. However, if you follow the above, you should make it through to the other side, and normal life can resume.