We all know someone or have experienced ourselves a debilitating illness. Whether it is chronic back pain or a battle against cancer, mom’s sickness has an impact on the family. While there are vast differences between a bout of the stomach flu and a life-threatening illness (and we are not comparing the severity of the battle), a mom who is unable to function at 100% is a mom who must balance her own care with that of her family. Moms facing illness are forced to put themselves first or – at the very least – to set aside time for healing.
Moms managing illness can all benefit from the suggestions below:
Put your illness first.
Or, rather, put your healing first. When you are sick, do not push yourself beyond your capabilities. Furthermore, take it down a notch and do less than you are able to do. It’s okay (no mother-guilt). It is important to give your body the rest it needs in order to heal.
Say yes and ask.
Friends and family will step forward to help you out. Say yes – every time (unless it’s more of a hassle – for example, when friends volunteer to bring dinner but they bring food your family does not like - repeatedly – it becomes more of a hassle to accept help). Solicit help when you need it. Rarely will you annoy or inconvenience someone when asking for help, and – most likely – people will be eager to do something for you. You may even find that acquaintances from your child’s school or neighborhood will step forward with a desire to help.
Lower your expectations.
When I was stuck in bed for nearly two months with a bad case of sciatic pain, I focused on what absolutely had to get done every day. There were some days I was able to do more, and some days I had to do less. My children stepped up (my husband worked out of state during the week) and helped to get things done, but a lot of our usual routines were relaxed. And, what I discovered was that it really didn’t matter. I was forced to simplify things, but it also helped me focus on what was really important. We spent more moments lying on the couch reading and fewer moments making sure our beds were made each morning.
Go down the easy path. Do not hesitate to feed your children cereal for dinner, let them watch a little more TV, or postpone showers for one more night. Eat on paper plates, send them on play dates, and wash all the laundry together in cold. Trust your kindergartner to wash her hair in the shower. Let your third grader wear the same pants to school two days in a row. And, leave the dishes in the sink.
None of us like to believe or think about the fact that we may fall ill, but it’s helpful to create a back-up-plan just in case. Mothers always like to be prepared, right? So, make sure you are ready for those “emergency occasions”. If your household needs to run while you are watching on the sidelines, you want to prepare for it as best you can.
A sick mom sounds like an oxymoron. Moms are not allowed to be sick. Moms do not have time to be sick. Moms have too many things to do. But, moms do get sick. And, when she is sick, mom must create the space and opportunity for recovery.
If you have a bout of the flu, severe back pain, or a broken foot OR you are facing a chronic or life-threatening illness, I wish for you a full and complete healing and/or recovery.