It’s that time of year isn’t it, where the dreaded winter colds and flu work their way through the entire family?
The bug we had started with my husband, then went to me, then the baby and then my five year old. It started with an incredibly sore throat, followed by a soaring temperature and a cough that just won’t shake. Unfortunately, when you have young children, you can’t just go to bed for two days, you’ve still got to look after the kids. So even though every part of my body was screaming at me to put my head under a doona and not emerge until the sun had risen and set at least twice, the reality is that when your sick baby cries you have to drag your sorry, fever-riddled body out of bed and look after her, no matter how bad you feel.
There’s no sick leave for full-time parents.
There were about three days when both my children were really sick with high fevers. It was the first time I’ve ever had to look after two sick kids when I was also sick. I found it quite stressful. One of them would be crying while I got water and medicine for the other, or I’d try to get Birdy in the bath to cool her down, while Molly would be crying, wanting me to feed her or pick her up. I felt like I was being pulled in opposite directions. I particularly found it hard to see the baby suffering because she’s normally so happy.
At one stage, Birdy even said to me, ‘Why are you looking after Molly all the time when I’m the sickest?’ Ouch.
One trick I learned was that it worked better if I actually staggered their paracetamol so that it wasn’t wearing off at the same time. After about three hours the paracetamol wears off, but you’re not allowed to give another dose yet. If their Panadol wore off at the same time, then it was really ugly. So I found that by staggering their doses two hours apart, one of them would be crying, while the other was still sleeping peacefully in pain-free bliss. A good trick for new players.
The worst thing about being sick was the isolation.
We were housebound and didn’t see a soul for ten days. It’s hard for the kids to understand why they can’t have their friends over. After a week of having my sick, grumpy daughter home from school, I was starting to go a little bit stir-crazy. When Birdy was really sick, she just wanted me to sit with her all the time. I’m not someone who can sit still for long. All I wanted to do was go on a house-cleaning germ blitz.
But I would have to sit with Birdy while she watched countless episodes of Charlie and Lola or Mister Maker, because she was too sick to do anything else. Then when my husband would come home from work the first thing I’d say would be “Right, you lie on the couch, while I wash every sheet, towel, pillowcase and curtain I can find.” I like to feel like I’m doing something to fight the sickness, but all kids want when they’re sick is somebody to sit with them and hold their hand. And sometimes that’s all you can do. Just sit with them and wait until they get better, even if it takes ten days.
At the time, it feels like they’re never going to get better, but once it’s all over, you think, “Oh, that wasn’t so bad after all.” Now that Molly is smiling again and being her usual gurgling happy baby self, the world looks a whole lot brighter again.
Have your kids had the winter lurgies? How do you cope with being housebound, or having sick kids home from school, pre-school or daycare?