When Super Mom Is Down For The Count
You wear multiple hats as a single mom (and likely a super mom cape); chef, housecleaner, taxi driver, breadwinner, kisser-of-booboos. It’s the ultimate job keeping everyone fed and watered, entertained, educated, happy and healthy. Especially when someone is down for the count with this flu bug, that cold (and by the way…the “man cold” starts in the teen years, just sayin’), or heaven forbid, a broken bone or serious health issue (typed as I knock on wood and cross all my fingers and toes…we have not visited an emergency room yet!)
But what happens when it’s you, the super mom, that’s down for the count? When whatever germ or virus of the week makes the complete round of the house and lands squarely on you? Or when a health issue arises and you’re facing a recovery period?
It’s not as easy for us single moms who don’t have a partner you can tag in for a round. And even those with significant others, sometimes they aren’t available (or that supportive). So what can you do when you’re “down for the count”? Here’s a list of 7 things that will come in handy the next time you’re under the weather, or having to go under the knife.
1. Prepare Yourself
No one knows when a cold or flu will strike, but you can wager a guess. If it’s winter, and someone else in the house is sick, chances are it’s coming your way. Not that it’s any consolation, but if it’s something scheduled, like surgery or some kind of medical procedure, take that lead time to get your ducks in a row. Keep your pantry stocked with basics, prepare some freezer meals in advance, have basic cold/flu/pain medications in your medicine cabinet (and make sure they aren’t expired). If you know you’re not going to be able to do housework, give the house a once over beforehand.
2. Prepare Your Kids
I had surgery this past week, nothing major, but I knew it would mean I wouldn’t be my usual self, and would need the boys to step up. So I told them ahead of time what was happening. I put it on the calendar, explained what was going on, and what they could expect. We talked about it a few times over the course of a few weeks, and again the night before.
My youngest had just one comment. “Don’t die, okay?” Shows you where the little brains go right away. Black and white, no shades of grey. (In my case, surgery was minor, out-patient, local anaesthetic, so chances were extremely low. I’m not sure how I would have handled it had things been more serious, with potential consequences.) They need a lot of reassurance that mom is going to be okay. (My oldest actually asked what he could do to help, and my response was frank. “Don’t be an a**hole”. He smiled knowingly. We have an understanding. Love that kid!)
You know how when you have a baby, and everyone tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps? And how you didn’t listen at first, because you were like “Now’s my chance to do ALL the things!”, until you crashed on the bathroom floor, crying that jagged breath, snot-ridden cry, spit-up in your hair, haven’t had a shower in days? And then you listened, because someone forced you to? Yeah, that.
Go to bed when the kids go to bed, nap when they’re at school (or if they still nap), put on a movie for them and nap. Sleep is when the body repairs itself, so it is priority number one.
4. Stay Nourished
Speaking of the body repairing itself, you need to give it the building blocks to do the job. Take your vitamins (and your prescribed medications…don’t be a hero and try to go without the pain meds). Eat healthy, even if it’s just a protein shake (check out this post for ones you can make-ahead). Comfort foods are a good choice, as long as they aren’t too loaded with sugar and saturated fats. And never under-estimate the magic powers of chicken noodle soup!
5. Stay Hydrated
Drink. More. Water. If you’re sick, this is the number one recommended way to get better. Your body is a remarkable machine that can do most everything, if you help it along. Water helps your kidneys and liver do their job getting rid of toxins. A warm mug of your favourite tea (or broth) can be incredibly soothing too (just stay away from the caffeine if you can, as it is dehydrating).
6. Ask For Help
As a single mom, you just can’t do it all, all the time. If you’re overwhelmed, ask for help, before it hits critical mass. Someone to watch the kids so you can grab a nap. A grocery run if the fridge is empty and you’re out of milk. Even just someone to listen, or wipe your tears, or offer a hug (unless you’re contagious of course, but the real friends won’t care).
7. Give Yourself Grace
You’re sick (or injured, or recovering from surgery, whatever it may be). Cut yourself some slack! Take off the cape (it probably needs to be washed anyway…and let someone else do the laundry)! You don’t have to be supermom all the time. You’re human. And even the most super of super moms need to take a break to take care of themselves.
Your cape will be clean and waiting when you’re ready.
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