Whether you have a newborn screaming with colic or a child off school sick, having a little one who isn’t one hundred percent around you and needing you constantly presents challenges for us looking after ourselves and finding some mental space.
Often we are woken in the night, wanted for cuddles, comfort and drinks all times in the day or we are trying to get everyone out to see the doctor or pharmacist. Whether it’s something brief but nasty or more long term we are likely to be worrying, meeting lots of extra needs and probably sleep deprived.
How do we find breathing room in the middle of it all, when we might be wanted at any minute? How do we prevent ourselves from getting cabin fever as our world shrinks to our house, our room, our child? How do we maintain perspective and find ways to fight for joy and connect with our little ones in this tough time? It seems like so many of us have been hit by bug after bug this winter- and while Spring is on its way it’s nice to remember some ways to make this time a little easier.
Get a change of scene
If you can’t get out of the house because your little ones are ill, or because of risk of infection, staying in the same four walls can easily drain you. Trying to get out just for a quick walk around the neighbourhood when someone can take over for five minutes is really useful, or pack everyone in the car, drinks and blankets and all, just to drive around a little so that you can look at something other than your house for a short while. A change is as good as a rest, as they say!
Prioritise it when there’s a break
Jobs easily pile up when you have someone who is poorly- and we can feel like there is so much to catch up on when we finally get a minutes. More important, though, is to make sure we are in a position to continue serving. When they are asleep or in bed, making sure we take a little bit of time for some peace and quiet is really important- no matter how urgent the jobs seem to be. I know if I take that five minutes and then get on with things it’s much better than always pushing it to ‘later’ which often never comes.
Think of some simple way to treat yourself as something to look forward to at the end of the day- be that a pleasurable activity or just a sweet treat to have as a reward of kind! If your treat is five minutes in a dark room with no body talking to or touching you then so be it!
Ask someone to pick your other children up from school, see if someone (who isn’t at risk of getting the illness!) to come over so you can shower and be alone for ten minutes, see if someone can double up their food so you’re not trying to get lots done whilst someone is calling for you from the sofa! It can be so hard to ask for help in a society that is all about how much we as individuals should be able to manage but it’s such a blessing to receive help from friends as it is to give help to those we love.
Have a chat
Find a friend or family member to phone and have a chat with- if you’re short on adult interaction face to face, find ways to make sure you’re expanding your mind beyond just your house and immediate family. Another perspective and a laugh with someone else can do wonders.
Spring sunshine and fewer germs lurking around will hopefully help many of us with illnesses in our homes but hopefully when you are hit with a bug in your little ones you’ll be able to prioritise your mental space to make it a little easier, until it passes.