Throw-back to a post I wrote about this time last year…here’s hoping for a calmer December this time around!!
Earlier this month we had a particularly bad run of things in my house. The littlest one had a roaring temperature; he finally settled about 11.30 pm (instead of the usual 7.30 pm) and we crawled into bed, only to be woken again at 12.15 am. Back to sleep about 2.00 am, in our bed this time, only to be woken by my older son roaring ‘Maaammmmyyyy’ from his room. I got up to see what the problem was, waking the sleeping toddler beside me in the process, to discover that he just wanted to be tucked back in. After settling both kids and dozing again I woke to a pair of eyes two inches from my face, looking to be tucked back in again and waking the toddler AGAIN. This sequence continued for the next few hours, with me getting 5-10 minutes sleep each time before being woken again. All in all, I saw every hour on the clock except the one when my alarm was supposed to go off and we all ended up late for crèche, school and work. That night wasn’t the first sleepless night, and it was followed by a fortnight of sleepless torture; a daily assault on my senses, insane amount of wiping away tears, snots and whatever else; and a full bleach of the house to rid us of the nasty bugs in question. In the aftermath, my work to-do list was more than a little anxiety-inducing, and my Christmas shopping list largely untouched!
Winter can bring a lot of added stress and pressure for parents. Trying to meet work deadlines before the end of the year and before the Christmas break; scrambling to get everything organised for the big day; and all the added financial and mental strain that brings…all with what feels like a massive timer ticking away in the background! Also, as I’m reminded on a yearly basis, winter is also peak season for catching colds, viruses and all manner of icky bugs.
So, what can you do when the pressure is mounting and you’ve a sick house:
Take 20 minutes to write down everything that you need to get done. Now whittle it down to what really, REALLY needs to be done; and then do this again. Once you have a list of absolute essentials, look at what must be done by you, and what can be outsourced? In work, can someone help with a piece of work or project? At home, can you do some shopping online, or get a cleaner in for a once off clean?
Sometimes things are a real struggle and take twice as long when you are exhausted, and then are much easier once you’ve had a bit more sleep. Look at what you can move to the following day or later in the week. And if you’re stuck at home with sick children, now is not the time to beat yourself up over letting them binge-watch TV and dining on ready meals. Do whatever you need to do to get through the day.
I’m lucky enough to be at the stage where cuddles and kisses fix most problems for one, if not both of my children. I try to take the time to enjoy the cuddles, hold them close and feel grateful for being able to look after them when they are not well. But, it can be hard to do this while you are feeling stressed and are mentally running through things to add to your to-do list. So I ask myself: will these things matter in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? Spending loving time with my kids will, making a dash to the shops for that extra tin of biscuits and some more pj’s probably won’t!
Be kind to yourself and treat yourself as you would a good friend – be patient and whatever you do, don’t let the guilt fairy get to you. It’s rubbish when this stuff happens, but this is life! Give yourself a break; know that you’re doing what you can, as best you can, and with the resources you have available here and now. And if the day, week or fortnight is a bit of a disaster, know that it will get better and you can start over tomorrow.
On the topic of a good friend, try and fit in a chat with one of yours or reach out to someone for support. It feels good to have a chat, and rant if you need to, and to ask for help – you will feel the better of it.
Beyond this, it’s always good to be clear on your purpose; your values, what drives and motivates you. These are the basics of why you are doing what you are doing and can help you to feel grounded when everything feels like it’s falling apart. Lastly, when you make it through the chaos in one piece, take some time out to plan for the next time you find yourself in the same situation. Make a plan with your partner for how you decide who takes time off work when one of the kids is sick, make a few dinners for the freezer and do whatever you can to make life easier for yourself the next time.