When the Kids are Sick

“What good mothers and fathers instinctively feel like doing for their babies is usually best after all.” — Dr. Benjamin Spock

Parenting with arthritis is difficult enough on a normal day. But when the kids get sick it’s downright horrible.

As I write this I am going on my 36th hour with no sleep. I’ve been cleaning vomit, kissing cheeks, patting heads, taking temperatures and being super-mommy/nurse for a day and a half. All my joints are swollen, my head hurts and I am exhausted. Will I get to rest anytime soon? Maybe, if my husband gets home from work soon I will take a short nap and let him tend to the patients for a while.

You know the drill. One kid starts, the next quickly follows. Then it’s like a competition. “I’m sicker then he is! I threw up 6 times and he only did twice.” “No sir! My temperature is 102, yours is only 101.” “Mom, tell him I am sicker!” And on and on it goes. You call the doctor, “It’s going around, nothing we can do about it. Don’t worry, it won’t last much more than 3 or 4 days.” 3 or 4 days???? Don’t worry?? Is he crazy?

How do we deal with it? We just do it. That parenting instinct takes over and you do all you can. When I can’t go on any longer I call in the reserves. My parents are always available to take over when I can’t do it any longer. Any mother or father with arthritis needs to have back up forces handy, especially if the children are very young. Whether it is family, friends or that nice lady next door; it’s a must. Don’t wait until you need them to set up the back up plan. Do it now, so you won’t be trying to find someone when you are dying of exhaustion!

Here are some other tips I have stumbled upon:

  1. If there is any possible way to have the other parent stay home and help you, do it! Not usually an option in my household, but I suppose if I was utterly exhausted and unable to care for them another minute he might stay home.
  1. Rest when they rest. Fairly easy to do with one child nearly impossible with two or more. The laundry and the dishes can wait; you need to rest any chance you get.
  1. Make the living room the hospital. Blankets, pillows, tissues, medicine, ice water, phone, remote all with in reach. Better bring a bucket too! Neither you nor the kids should have to get up to get anything.
  1. When it becomes too much and you call in the reserves or they are finally recovered and back to school spend the day pampering yourself. So your house is a pigsty? Who cares! The cleaning can wait. Take a nice long hot bubble bath. Take a loooong nap. Read a book. Watch a movie. Catch up on your internet newsgroups, or whatever YOU want to do. You deserve it!
  1. Be prepared for the inevitable flare. For so many of us stress = flare. And sick kids can be very stressful. It’s coming, you know it is. So don’t make any plans for the next several days. Take it slow and ride out the flare.

Then, maybe, life will become normal again! Shhh! Don’t tell me life as a parent with arthritis is never normal. Let me have this little fantasy! Right now it is all I have to hold on to.