Being a working mum with sick children: 13 things to be grateful for

Our family has had a rough few days.  It started with our 4 year old, Sophia calling out at 2am on Saturday night – mama, I’m sick…and yes, by the time I stumbled to her bedroom seconds later, I had very evident proof of that.

She seemed better Sunday morning so we went out for a while as planned but came home after she became quite lethargic and “sooky”.  She spent the rest of the day in front of the tv resting, then off to bed early Sunday night.  She was awake almost every hour though with a rising temperature.  I sat with her for a while then managed some sleep until again being summoned again in the middle of the night.  This time was quite frightening, it’s my first experience of what I think is called night terrors.  She was raving bizarre things, including “I’m falling” and throwing her favourite dolly out of bed saying “get that stupid thing away from me”.  She was also really hot but refused paracetamol or a cold cloth to bring the fever down then fell asleep again.

I lay awake in bed for some time afterwards desperately needing sleep but also wondering if I should instead be sat by her bedside or even if I should take her to hospital.  Also worrying about how I was going to manage work and sick children this week.   Finally we got through the night.

As a working mum, it’s practical but also with some rising dread that as soon as my girls show signs of sickness I automatically begin formulating back up plans for the week.   On one hand I feel my girls should be my clear priority, on the other I hate letting work down.  I also have the type of personality to want to try and find the perfect solution – which there rarely is.  Sleep deprivation makes the worry and decision making worse.

After a few years of experience of juggling work and children however, I have learnt to always have a plan B & C formulated but this just so happens to be one week that all my back up options are exhausted.   In an already small team at work, this is one week I really needed to be there so according to Murphy’s Law of course something like this would happen!  So it’s continuing to be a bit of a struggle to balance work and family this week but I guess it will work out in the end.

I work away from home Mondays, Wednesdays & Thursdays.  Monday morning, my husband took our youngest to daycare while Sophia and I got a bit more sleep.  I then had to take her into work to open up (I have the key & alarm code and other staff are away) and to formulate back up plans.  Took her to the GP  and turns out to probably be a flu virus going around.  Went back to close work early and put signs on the door and messages on the phone – not ideal but no better option and we spent the rest of the day resting but she didn’t seem much better.

This morning I woke up from a solid sleep and said to my husband “great, she slept through the night!”.  No she didn’t – he was up with her and I was so tired I slept through it.  She seemed a lot better though – then we went in to our youngest’s room to discover she’d been sick in the night but not woken us and gone back to sleep.   Poor baby, felt terrible, and seemed this was the start of the same illness.

So spent the day with both girls sick – but well enough to fight constantly it seemed.   One sick child on their own will rest but a 4 and 2 year old together, both sick and grumpy is not good!   I have done my best to keep them rested but entertained but stay calm and patient but really need a rest myself!  So as I’m learning to do when things seem bad, I decided to come up with  things to be grateful for.

1.  I get extra cuddle time

Neither of my girls are usually very cuddly – I usually get a quick hug before they are off.  When they are sick though I get lots of lots of cuddles.

2.  It’s only temporary

Though I’ve been worried, and they are definately not well, it seems to be nothing very serious.   Unfortunately not a 24 hour thing, but probably a few days and they’ll be better. This week feels like it is lasting forever but I know sometime soon we’ll all be happy and healthy again.  I’m learning children can be so resiliant – amazing how their little bodies can heal themselves.

3.  I have a washing machine

Sick kids in the night too young to wait for a bucket is not fun for anyone.  Thank goodness the washing machine can help sort out the mess.   Here  is Isabella with her best friend Elf on her head which I had to steal to wash this morning but he’s all clean now.

4.  I am not sick

I’m a bit sleep deprived and worried but at least the virus hasn’t gotten me!

5.  ABC 4 Kids and DVDs

I soooo love every cartoon and animated character for the few moments of peace they give us all during the day.  The usual concern about how much tv is ok just doesn’t count when they are sick.

6.  I have a helpful husband

Thank goodness he’s helped out with “sick shifts” while I got some sleep.  Also hanging out washing, cooking dinner, reading to them and cuddles.  Usually he is also able to take some time off work to help care for them so I can work, but has a particularly busy week himself.  So he has instead been taking my calls while he’s at work to soothe me while I’m going crazy with their fighting and constant “mama mama mama mama”.  (Which is usually several hundred times a day but seems to triple when they are sick).

7.  The internet

I’ve been able to do some work and sort out some urgent stuff from home.  I’m also grateful for a link to the outside world for information and support.  I learnt what night terrors were and that they are relatively common.  Facebook has let me know lots of my friend’s children have been through the same thing recently – and there is an end in sight!  I’ve even had some online conversations which didn’t revolve around sickness.    Even writing this post now and sharing the experience helps me feel better.

8.  I get to be the one to make them feel better

We’ve seen a lovely nurse and doctor this week, but ultimately, despite my flashes of wondering how I’ll cope with so little sleep and meeting their needs, it’s wonderful to know that mama really can make them feel better just by being there.

9.  My mum

Reminding me that she did the same for my brothers and I and she understands!

10.  It’s nice weather

It’s been gorgeous sunny days and I’ve actually moved the girls mattresses out onto the patio so we could rest in the outdoors for a while.  Getting some fresh air and watching the birds and the wind rustle in the trees was good medicine (and dried all the sheets, I don’t have a dryer!).

11.  My world stops for a while

When my girls are so obviously sick and need me, there is no doubt I need to be here at home with them.  I’m used to being constantly busy but in this case, my world stops for a while and I guess things don’t fall apart too badly out there until I get back!

12.  My house is tidy

Forced to stay at home instead of being at work, as well as the neccessity to wash several sets of clothes and sheets, I’ve gotten into the cleaning mood and managed to vaccum, mop, tidy and even clean out three shelves in the kitchen.

13.  I don’t have anything super urgent on at work and they are understanding

Though it’s a bit of a juggle staffing wise there are no major meetings or anything that will have big effects if I miss, or that can’t wait a few days.  Though it is an inconvenience, I have understanding managers and colleagues.

Well there you go, I started this as a list of 5 and have come up with a whole 13 things to be grateful for.  I should also add that the house has been peaceful for the whole time I’ve been writing this.  Now I’m off to bed for what will hopefully be a good night’s sleep.  We may all wake up happy and healthy – or we may not – but either way we’ll get through it.

Renee Veldman-Tentori

11 thoughts on “Being a working mum with sick children: 13 things to be grateful for

  1. Agree with all of it. We also normally have plans B,C (through to Z :)) but sometimes it looks like all of them seem to be falling through. Stressful! And I so identify with waking up well rested thinking they slept through the night only to see your husband’s dead tired face.
    Hope both of them feel better soon and you all get back to your normal activities. In the mean time enjoy the cuddles!

    1. Thanks Jelena, funny you should say that as I was also thinking I need plans A-Z when I was writing it, plans B & C just aren’t enough sometimes! Definately more managable when there are two of you “on shift”. I have huge respect for single parents who don’t have that and hope anyone in that situation has some other form of support as you definately need it. Talking to my husband at 4am and having a good cry after another bad night last night also helped me cope (he had a good night’s sleep last night, it was me up every hour!). I’m sure we’ll be back to normal soon, and again am grateful that this isn’t my “normal”.

  2. Nicky

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Renee. I’ve had a similar week with both littlies sick and work pressures and sometimes it feels like there is noone around me that truely understands how stressed and torn I feel. I can’t bear leaving my kids when they are so uncomfortable and just need mummy to make them feel better. Thank you for reminding me of all I have to be grateful for, when I only see my shortcomings at the moment. Nicky

    1. Appreciate you taking the time to comment and also share your experience Nicky – I definately think the sleep deprivation that comes with sick kids waking throughout the night certainly doesn’t help my state of mind, and I really notice my thought processes when I’m tired and stressed are not good. ironically this is at a time when my kids most need me to be calm and strong. Blogging for me has helped me confront the negative emotions and cope, and comments like yours helps me feel it’s worth taking the time to share if someone else can identify. Hope your children are better soon too!

  3. Sue Murphy

    Great blog post Renee. I so get where you’re coming from. Its not an easy road at all especially when the kids are sick. No one will look after your kids when theyre sick!! Its all up to you. Good luck with it all. Thoughts are right there with you honey. Sue xxx

  4. Spot on – your grateful way of looking at it is fantastic. My mum has been away up the Sunshine Coast for most of winter and she is my Plan B. Of course the kdis have been sick most of winter and man I have missed her!! I don’t begrudge her having time away but I sure will tell her how I appreciate her when she’s around!! Let’s hope that spring brings less bugs and spewy sheets. xxx

    1. Thanks Penny, my parents actually live on the Sunshine Coast but have also been away for a few months overseas and just got back….if I’d known your mum was there she could have been my Plan B!! Mum and dad are taking the girls tomorrow for a whole 24 hours, so I might just sleep for the majority of that, and maybe a nice dinner out with hubby.

  5. I hope the girls are feeling much better Renee. I so get where you are coming from, I get the guilts when Taylah is sick. I feel guilty because if Ididnt have to work then maybe taylah wouldn’t get colds all the time, then I get the guilts when Taylah is sick cause I think I am letting work down. But with Taylah being nearly nine, I keep reminding myself each time that family comes first, especially when they are sick and no one can back you up as the mum they really want at this time whereas at work there is always someone who can step in and do what needs doing.

    1. Thanks Jenny, was just thinking of you yesterday, was thinking we haven’t caught up in ages and was going to call you but not a chance with Isabella needing me. You’re right, it’s just mum they need, you can’t really call in a temp for that can you! Hope you’re all happy and healthy at the moment and stay that way 🙂

  6. Pingback: Biz Mums Blogging Carnival August 2011 | Motivating Mum

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