When Mom is Sick: Tips for Getting Better When You Can’t Call In

In my house, no matter what time of year it is, I am always the one most likely to be sick with something. I’ve tried all the immune-boosting supplements and vitamins on the market, but I still seem to be a beacon for every cold bug’s landing gear. I used to just chalk it up to bad luck or having three school-aged children in my house, but it wasn’t until last year that the doctors found a congenital lung condition to be one of the causes of my suffering.

sick mom holds babyNevertheless, even though I now know why I’m sick so often, it doesn’t really seem to matter when I’m ill. As most know, when Mom is sick, we don’t get to take a day off from being mom, no matter how much we need it, deserve it, or plead our case for it.

So, after two months in which I have struggled with a couple of bouts of laryngitis, one upper respiratory infection, and a bad case of COVID, I found myself floundering in ways I never thought possible. It’s been months (literally) since I’ve cooked my family a meal. Months since I’ve had the energy to clean house. And months – truly and honestly – since I was on top of the laundry. To say I’ve been out of sorts for a long time would be an understatement. But this is just what the world looks like when mom’s out of commission.

The hard truth of the matter is that no one can get better without some assistance. Try as I might, with this round of sickness, I finally succumbed and realized that I needed help. Lots of it. So, here are some tips and tricks for getting through those rough patches while on the road to recovery.

Tips for Keeping the Family Functioning When Mom is Sick

Level with Your Kids

I know some of us like to portray ourselves as unbreakable superheroes to our kids. This. Is. Not. The. Time. For. That. Level with them. They are part of your team and, as teammates, they need to know what’s going on when Mom is sick.

Let them know you are unwell. Be clear what your care requires and find a small way they can help. By giving them a role in your recovery you are allowing them to have some control over the situation. Even if it’s just putting their clothes in the laundry bin by themselves or singing a goodnight song to you before bed, allowing them to help in small ways will do worlds of good…for both of you!

Ask for Outside Help

I have often failed at this task because I didn’t want to burden anyone or admit that I couldn’t handle my load by myself. And, while it’s great to be fiercely independent, the truth of the matter is everyone needs help sometimes – especially a sick mama!

When you are feeling ill and unable to tackle your normal duties, ask those around you for help. If your partner can take over the bedtime routine, let them! If your neighbor offers to bring a delicious noodle casserole over for dinner, let them! And, if a trusted friend from your village would like to pitch in with things like carpool, please…for the love of your health…LET THEM!

I know (from experience) that accepting these kind gestures may send your guilt index through the roof. If that’s the case, though, just ask yourself – “Would I do this for them?” If the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ then there’s no reason to feel bad about accepting their help now. After all, it’s part of being in a healthy, functioning community!

Order Up!

Thanks to the pandemic, there are now tons of options to get the things you need with relative ease (and without even stepping foot in a store). For groceries, delivery and curbside options are accessible for tons of retailers – this is true for almost all major stores except for Trader Joe’s. Target (my favorite catch-all) often even has orders ready in less than two hours!! As far as pharmacies, many have curbside and drive-thru options. H.E.B. pharmacy even delivers!

When Mom is sick and thinking of mealtime, there are a ton of apps you can use to order takeout from local restaurants. Or, if you’re looking for curbside, there are still tons of options – McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Niko Niko’s, Jason’s Deli, and Jimmy John’s to name a few of our regulars. (FYI – the chicken noodle soup at Chick-fil-A is my favorite quick go-to meal when I’m under the weather. But, if I’m in the need of something life-changing, I go all in on the matzo ball soup from Kenny & Ziggy’s – it’s pure magic!)

Let the Screens Shine

Do you remember, during the pandemic, how we all survived being stuck at home with our families 24/7 for months on end? Screentime! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for it to be used in place of all other activities in normal times; but when dealing with sickness (and pandemics), I think we all get a pass for allowing their blue glow to shine ceaselessly.

Just make sure you are aware of what your kiddo is watching and place any parental controls that you feel comfortable using so they can navigate their tablet safely. Once you’ve done that, buy yourself some time to rest and recover while they binge on Elmo or whatever it is they’re watching these days.

Remember, It Will Get Better

Sometimes, this is the hardest part – remembering when Mom is sick, it will get better. YOU will get better. I know, it’s hard…especially when your mom-job doesn’t come with any days off. But moms are made from strong stock. Even when we’re at our weakest, we are primed to be the pillars of our world. And when we need a break from holding everyone up, it’s okay to ask for their support until we’re ready to stand tall again.

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Cindy Vattathil
Cindy is a native Houstonian who has lived in the same five-mile radius within Spring Branch her entire life. As an artist, she originally had dreams of living in NYC. However, because her least favorite things include cold weather and crowds, it clearly wasn’t meant to be. Aside from the warm climate, her favorite things about Houston include knowing where the best taco trucks are parked, pointing out personal landmarks, and avoiding Loop 610 like the plague. When she’s not doing those things, you can find her running an occasional lap, reading the latest novel, making art, or doing all the stuff you can imagine from a mother of three (except for making Jell-O – never ever ever!). One day she even hopes to write a novel…but that’s another story. In the meantime, you can check out more of her words at www.cindywrotethat.com. You can also check out her art at www.paintingwithscissors.com or follow along on her quest to read all the books on Instagram.


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