I am not a winter person. I have learnt how to embrace it and try to enjoy it anyway, but it is a time fraught with danger. Germs flying about everywhere. No place is safe. No person is safe!
It’s just par for the course, really. Winter = cold and flu season.
As an adult, I’ve been getting a flu shot annually and while it doesn’t work for everyone, I feel thankful that it has seemed to work quite well for me. Mr Unprepared seems to have mixed results, but nothing too full on has hit him since he started having them, so that’s probably a positive sign.
But the Little Mister? Germ machine.
Since he started day care this year, he’s had a cold almost every second week. Some strains seem really mild and give him nothing more than a snotty nose for a couple of days, others seem to linger forever, along with an annoying cough. I am so lucky I work casually and can be flexible when he needs to stay home, but it’s starting to get a bit inconvenient! If I don’t work, I don’t get paid damn it!
I am very passionate about not knowingly spreading germs around. I hate when I hear about work places that pressure their employees to turn up sick. I hate when someone turns up at the playground or social gathering, casually saying, “Oh man! I/my kids am/are so sick right now!” while their child is practically slobbering all over you/your child or you’ve just agreed to split a plate of finger food with them. A little warning might have been nice!
WHAT THE HELL? GO HOME. Is your FOMO really that bad that you’re willing to infect ALL the people??
I mean, sometimes it’s not a super big deal. Germs are everywhere, anyway. It’s just nice to know ahead of time so you can make an educated choice on how you choose to protect yourself or your child (we personally had to warn my family this past weekend about the Little Mister’s cold and blessings were given for him to turn up with a few extra precautions taken)! But generally? If you’re all germy, then don’t turn up! These things are unavoidable. People will get over it.
I even keep my errands to an absolute minimum. You’ll only ever see the Little Mister having a little cough at the shops if I have absolutely no other choice, but I promise he’ll be coughing into his sleeve, keeping his hands to himself and that pocket sized bottle of sanitiser I keep in my handbag will be making an appearance!!
But I get it when people say they’re stir crazy. It starts to feel like you’ll never leave home again. You can feel very isolated and it’s not great for anyone’s mental health. Not to mention, when your child is bored and unstimulated and it feels like the days are moving at snail’s pace. I was talking to a friend about this and she was saying they hadn’t been out in weeks, due to her son having a lingering cold. I myself had only just emerged from a loooooong week in myself. I remember the days when it would go on for months if you had a bad run of it!! I never feel comfortable asking for babysitting so I can get out either, because I don’t want the Little Mister to infect anyone else! So, everyone at home it is.
It messes with your head. Especially if you get a sick partner too (they always seem to go down first right?).
So I’ve decided to share some ways that I try to minimise the stir crazy factor…
Get some fresh air…somewhere we can be alone together.
If it’s a sunny day, I like to grab the Little Mister, rug him up in his coziest clothes and take him down to our local beach. It’s a great spot that is never highly populated (much less in winter) and we can go for a walk or build a sandcastle together. Obviously we have to avoid anyone getting wet and cold, but it’s totally doable. No-one else gets infected, we get a bit of Vitamin D and the Little Mister feels like he had a fun outing just for him. In turn, I feel like the best mum ever again.
Phone calls/internet time.
This can be a double edged sword. Sometimes these things can make you feel worse, with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) rearing its ugly head, but sometimes being able to chat online with your mates and feel connected can be a lifesaver. You can commiserate with your friends who are also stuck at home and keep each other company, virtually!
I also catch up on my favourite blogs and immerse myself in tales of the outside world when I get a bit of down time. Usually, when the Little Mister is snuggled up watching a movie. Gotta love movie time on sick days, right?
This week I joined Periscope (user name @KezUnprepared) just for the hell of it. Yet another new thing to eat up my down time and get me feeling creative. I feel like this should be its own little point too – try something new (read a new book or learn a new skill you can practice at home or research some stuff or plan a new project you could try during or after the current illness jag).
I like to have a good chinwag on the phone with my mum too. It’s nice to connect. Speak to an adult.
Usually, I am no domestic goddess. But when everyone’s been cooped up for a while and the germs are so irritating, you swear you can see them having a party on every single surface of your home (living or otherwise), it’s cathartic to just start washing and cleaning and tidying ALL THE THINGS.
After the last outbreak of gastro, I went nuts washing bedding, towels and anything my husband had ever touched. Afterwards, the house looked and smelt nice and fresh. Psychologically, this really gave me a boost. I stopped seeing my house as a tiny, claustrophobic germ incubator and more as a sanctuary again.
I will be doing another vigorous cleaning session this week, after dealing with the Little Mister’s latest snotty, coughy situation. It’s gonna be great!
Obviously, it’s a good way to minimise the chances of reinfecting everyone over and over.
Have a secret stash of ‘sick day’ activity materials.
I have a craft box full of cheap stickers, pipe cleaners, cotton wool, kids’ craft glue, coloured card, felt animals hidden away for when the Little Mister gets really really bored and I start to feel like a crappy mum because we haven’t done anything but sit around for days. I also have colouring books and other activity books sitting around that he’s not really aware of. I pull something out when things are getting dire (I’m talking all out desperation) and it can keep him amused for ages! None of those things cost a lot and I just throw a little something in my shopping trolley when supplies are a bit low or I see something on sale.
Just give in. The Little Mister snuggles more when he’s not well. He gets so docile and cuddly. I just try to forget everything else and sit and snuggle with him when he needs it. It’s nice. I swear it is easier when I stop fighting it (‘it’ being my busy mum brain).
Kids are such troopers, aren’t they?
Look, my go-to strategies might seem a little obvious and might make you feel pretty stabby if you’re feeling at the end of your tether. Trust me, I get it. Sometimes I try all of these things and I will still feel like absolute shit. Hang in there! It won’t be forever. Summer will come again!
You got this! x
How do you survive lengthy winter sickness jags? Any advice you can add for other stir crazy parents?