When Mama Is Sick


It’s still that time of year when viruses and the flu are floating around like dandelions in a Midwest state breeze. Everyone’s child is sick or getting sick or getting over being sick, so it’s only a matter of time before it hits the rest of the family. When mama gets sick, though, she doesn’t get a sick day…no, instead she is gifted with continuing her daily responsibilities along with keeping enough Kleenex in her bag for the entire San Francisco county.  Time does not stop for anything or anyone, but it can be especially cruel when mama is sick!

My son started getting a runny nose and cough.  It quickly turned into a fever and wheezing, and before I knew it, we were at the children’s hospital getting breathing treatments for him. Then my chest started to get tight, and my nose started to get yucky. It was hitting me as well. We had a upper respiratory virus that took us both down fast. We left the hospital with a inhaler for my son, and a headache for me.

This virus, of course, wrecked havoc on our past sleep training, and my little guy needed mama every night to sleep. He was coughing, I was coughing, and we were not getting much sleep at all. As a single mama, I do not have a partner to pass along sick child duties to so I can get some rest when I’m sick. So, I gave in and we co-slept in order for us both to rest. This virus took 2 weeks to leave us both, and just when I thought we were in the clear, it CAME BACK FOR MORE.

When mama is sick she still puts her child first which might be why it takes longer for her to get better. All this time spent caring for my sick child I realized, I had only showered twice in a 10 day stretch!  I had missed countless meals throughout the 2 week long craziness. I had forgotten to take my cough syrup and Sudafed regularly. I needed someone to rock me to sleep in a dark room with white noise on!

Being sick at the same time as your child (whether you are a single mama or not) is a special kind of torture. But I learned that we can make it through the temporary insanity together, and we are stronger because of that.

Here are a few things to remember when mama is sick:

*Stay hydrated!  It is very easy to get dehydrated when you are sick, so up your water intake. I try to keep a refillable water bottle in the kitchen and bedroom, so I am less likely to forget to stay up on my H2O. When my son was sleeping, and I, for some reason wasn’t, I would make myself a cup of hot tea at night for some additional calming and comfort.

*Screen time is ok!  This may be a hot button topic, but Elmo and Mickey helped save me when I was sick.  My son rarely sits still unless he is eating a meal, so in order for me to save some energy (which I was majorly low on) I put Elmo or Mickey on, and he happily would sit and watch with a light snack. Also, the cuddles I swear are the best medicine.

*Don’t worry about keeping up with household duties!  When mama is sick, do the bare minimum. It is ok if laundry piles up for a few days.  Instead of doing dishes after each meal, I would wait until the end of the day or better yet throw it in the dishwasher and say bye-bye.

*Ask for and Accept HELP!  I know this is hard.  Personally, I struggle with this quite a bit.  Luckily, my son and I live with my mom and step dad. My mom took care of meals for my son, so I could just sit down at the table and have a cup of tea while she helped him with his food. Our very good friend brought over a balloon and a basket full of snacks for us. It was the kindest gesture, and it helped remind me that we are surrounded by amazing people.

*Trust your instincts!  After I heard my son start wheezing, I went into mama-bear mode and put a call into the nurse line. I knew they would be sending us to the children’s hospital most likely, but I needed some reassurance. Knowing that both myself and my son’s father struggled with asthma, I was very worried.  If you feel like something is wrong call the doctor, go in, and get your little one checked out. Breathing issues are so scary with kiddos.

*Pick your battles!  For me this meant letting go of our sleep training and co-sleeping. But it can be something small like giving in when your toddler has a meltdown because they want more crackers. Carb-overload for a day or two will not damage your son/daughter. Save yourself the scream fest.

Comment below with how you manage to get through when mama is sick.


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Nicole is a San Francisco native who grew up in the Noe Valley neighborhood before majoring in Sociology at San Jose State University. In her third year she realized her love of children as her true calling and earned a Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate. She taught Preschool along the Peninsula for 10 years before a rare medical condition left her unable to continue her career. Now a single mom to the apple of her eye, Joey James keeps her busy. When Nicole is not playing, teaching and snuggling with Joey James she enjoys stroller walks around the Bay Area, music, San Francisco Giants Baseball and ice cubes floating in her Chardonnay.


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