It's cold and flu season, and as children get colds, pink eye, ear aches, lice and stomach viruses moms keep going, even if they're the ones sneezing, or nauseous. A recent Harvard study showed that men's immune systems are weaker than women's, and this is not good news for moms— because we are often the ones left holding court on sick days.
A case in point: Amy has two children and had kindly offered to care for two young boys while their parents were away. All was well until one of the visiting kids threw up while they were out so they headed home. As she was driving her daughter also got sick; directly on the other boy. I picture the details of the next twenty minutes as similar to the pie eating scene in Stand By Me.
When they got home the children were throwing up and/or screaming, covered in vomit. It was a disaster. Her new neighbour, also a mom, dove in and helped clean the car while she tended to the kids. This was a Godsend considering that while one's own children's vomit can be managed, other people's children's vomit is definitely worse. The kids get clean and the bug hits my friend, all orifices. She couldn't call other parents she knew as it was clearly contagious and her husband and the boys parents were far away. The worst part was that while she was praying for death and relieving herself on the toilet, all of the children, now feeling peck-ish came into the bathroom requesting snacks. She mustered up enough energy to direct them to leave immediately and to have anything they could reach.
For Amy and all of the single moms out there, moms whose partners are away, or those in a new community or simply far from family, a huge salute to you. When faced with this, here is what you can do:
1. Ask for help. You may not be able to expose your mom friends to what junior has got but you can ask for Pedialyte or disinfectant on the doorstep. When possible, call in Grandma.
2. Accept help. New neighbours cleaning vomit out of your car might sound horrific, but in my friends case it started a great friendship - this neighbour was a keeper!
3. Let go of expectations. Let schedules and housework do what they will. Prepare quick crock pot recipes or canned anything!
4. Self-care. Sleep when others sleep. Look for any moment to take care of yourself and take medicine too, don't weather the headaches or sneezing if you can take something. And make this homemade cold busting drink
5. Two words: Screen Time! Even YMC's own screen reduction advocate Andrea Nair
6. Never speak of the Harvard study. This study won't help anyone.
Take care of yourself, moms! Go to bed early, hand sanitize, and politely decline the play dates where “they were throwing up all last night but seem okay now.” We moms have to stick together, so keep an eye out for friends who are ill and still care taking so you can offer some respite and relief.
Want to read more about self care? See Are Anxious Thoughts Ruining Your Day? and How to Love the Life you Live Right Now.