- Susie Csorsz Brown
I have spent the last few days feeling like chewed gum spit out on the sidewalk. Just blah yuck dragged around at the whim of the shoes of others. I know, gross analogy. I really am not good at being sick. In fact, I admit it: I am hugely annoying when I am sick. Mostly because I refuse to stop doing all of the things I typically do during a normal day, even though it requires MUCH more effort and time. And then I get grumpy because I feel nasty + have to do everything + no one wants to help me (mostly because I am really ornery) + I’m really tired and sick. All of this equation does NOT = a happy household. I think I probably speak for my kids and my husband when they pray I do not get sick, not because they want me to stay well, but because I am that unpleasant when I do fall under the weather.
So. Basically it boils down to this: how do we (read: I) stop playing the martyr? How do we (mostly moms, likely) just admit we are sick, stop, rest and get better? Without making life generally unpleasant and unbearable for those around us?
Admittedly, it’s a little tougher when we are overseas on one hand because it’s a lot harder to keep an adequate supply of cold medicine (unless you count the expired stuff). I always try to remember to order more when we get low, but … the DPO cogs are not always properly aligned. Sometimes, it can takes weeks for (insert item here) to arrive, and that is a lot longer than you have once the germs are ‘shared’. Thankfully, I have copious amounts of Kleenex thanks to my consumables order but … that’s not really going to stop me from feeling miserable. That’s just going to keep me from looking like Rudolph.
So the martyr question: how do we stop? How do we just take a break? Why do we feel compelled to just go and go and go, literally until we drop? One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to take time that you could be spending with your kids or taking care of one of the myriad of tasks that are a part of running a household and spend that time on yourself. Weird thought, right? Because part of being a parent is being selfless, and focusing on the other important people in your life (kids, spouse, pets, etc). What we are forgetting, though, is that without self-care, we fall apart. And if the parent falls apart (especially the one that does the majority of parenting), then where do things end up? The pieces fall, and there is no one there to catch them. But is that really true? Try to take a step back and really analyze: can you take time for yourself without the walls crumbling? I think you’ll find that you can.
Self-care is one of the best gifts you can give to yourself. Taking the time to do something(s) important to you is a necessity, not a waste of time. Without proper care, even a car will fall apart. A living organism needs care, love and attention. Moms are great at so many things, but giving themselves time and attention is often not among those skills.
Adequate nutrition, proper amounts of sleep and hydration … it’s not a complicated formula. All the cold medicine in the world is not as effective as a good night’s rest; the human body is amazing, and can repair itself, given proper time, nutrition, and sleep. Sure, sure, a big pot of chicken soup probably will make your feel better, but NOT/NOT if you are the one that has to make it. Repeat after me: sleep, sleep, sleep. So stop trying to do everything, get into bed and get some!
I know, I know. Your kid doesn’t care if you are sick. Unlike a regular job, you can’t call in sick with your children. Thankfully, if your kids are school aged, all you have to do is get them on the bus …. Then you are free and clear for a good 6 or 7 hours to rest and recoup. You can also consider forgoing any limitations you have for electronics to assist with the child-rearing responsibilities. Again, there is no need at all to feel guilty about a week of letting go.
There is no need to be a self-sacrificing victim. Your house will likely get messy. Even if you are lucky enough to have household help, things generally get cleaned and cleared more efficiently if someone is actively pointing out the flotsam. Your family might not eat as nutritiously as they might when you are at the helm. Homework might slip a little. Shopping might fall behind. Kids might have to buy school lunch. None of these options are deal-breakers nor life-threatening. Everyone will survive and you will have the time to get better.
Take it from me, moms and dads. You are important, too. Listen to your body,. Give the kids the love and attention they deserve, but don’t forget about you: give yourself the love and attention you deserve, too. I promise you’ll be a better parent for it.