When Mommy is sick

It is hard enough when a dear child is sick, but what happens when you are sick?  It is very easy to feel guilty when you cannot teach but the truth is, sometimes the teacher is sick.  In a school, they bring in a substitute teacher.  Sometimes the substitute teacher can go on a bit in the lessons, however, many times they are more like a babysitter and the students get fun things to do to pass the time.  Life happens, it’s okay.  So, if schools can do it, why can’t we?

Think of it as a snow day.  Occasionally the weather has it so that the principals decide they have to shut down schools for a day or two.  What happens then?  Well, the students do not get any learning done in school.  When we, the teachers, get sick, we have to accept it and do what we need to do to make ourselves better. Call a snow day.

Many times the hard part really comes when we need to figure out what to do with our children while we are sick.  A teacher in a school just calls up the school and calls in sick.  Unfortunately, homeschooling parents do not have that one luxury.  Sometimes there are friends that we can call up and pawn a child or two off on, at least for a few hours so we can rest.  Many times we cannot.  Many times the children are left to mostly “fend for themselves” while we just show our presence to make sure the house stays standing.  Letting children keep themselves busy while we recuperate can be very stressful in itself.  Unless one has a maid or a nanny to help around the house, and/or the children are all mature, responsible teenagers, the house will most likely be messier than usual. This anticipation of the messes can put extra stress on the sick parent as they try to prevent disasters.  This in turn can prolong our sickness for instead of resting so our bodies can focus energy on healing, our bodies focus on moving and talking and thinking, leaving not much energy to fight off the illness.

What are some tips to help us cope?

1. Ship children off to a friend’s house for a few hours at least so you can rest.  Or, alternately, if you are lucky enough to be sick when schools are out, you might be able to hire a teenager to come over to babysit for you (or, if you are good enough, convince them to come for free for the mitzvah of chesed and bikur cholim!)

2. Have extra board/card/other games that the children do not usually get to play to create new excitement and keep them busy.

3. If you are not too awfully sick, and feel you need/want/can, teach the easy stuff to teach while sick.  Perhaps you can read a book out loud, or take turns reading.  Many times keeping a skeleton of a schedule can help keep a child on track for the day.

4. If the weather allows, make them go OUTSIDE!

5. Above all, ALLOW for a messy house.  Lower your expectation.  After all, they are just children.  Focus on what really is important.  Are they safe?  Are they fed?  Peanut butter sandwiches are fine multiple times a day, and so is cereal.  It is okay if occasionally they do not get all the proper food groups. Rest, and feel better.  You can clean the house when you are well.

As I am finishing this post, I think I can go back to bed.  It is 5:30 am and I think the Tylenol has kicked in enough for me to try to sleep.  Last week a few of the boys got sick, were in bed with fevers for a day or so, and then about back to normal.  As Day 3 comes along for me, I am struggling to come to terms that it takes longer to get better as we get older.  I am thankful for small things though – all the boys were angels yesterday, and I even had a few come up to me asking me if I needed anything (*love*), and even though Daddy was home sick (he’s never home sick, even when he is sick!) it was so nice to have his company.

I am hoping though that it will not be many more hours before I feel well enough to clean the cocoa-jam concoction that is on my floor from wonderful children who were wanting to make a surprise meal of skewers and fruit and um, cocoa and jam. 🙂

Oh, and don’t forget to tell the children that you love them and thank them for any tiny amount of good that they did, that really does make a difference!