This guest post is written by fellow military spouse Meg Flanagan of Milkids Ed, a great blog that covers all facets of education for our military kids. Enjoy!
After a night of tossing, turning, and making a mad dash to the bathroom, it was official. I was sick.
I was ready for a day on the couch or in bed, sipping some ginger ale, and binge watching TV. Throw in some saltines or applesauce when my tummy settled enough, and I would be content. A day of total rest, and I would be on my feet in 24 hours, tops.
But that’s not what happened.
Instead, I had a feisty two-year-old who wanted to play, go to the playground, and hit the local pool. I had meals to cook and laundry to wash, all while the mere thought of moving left me exhausted.
Thankfully my husband’s “office” is close enough he was able to dash home to feed our little sweetie, and this time, he wasn’t away. I’m so grateful for my amazing neighbors who took the munchkin for a few hours so I could nap.
However, there’s a hard truth all families with one stay-at-home parent need to face: SAHPs who are ill will take longer to recover without some extra help.
Because my “sick day” didn’t just end at one. Oh no.
It lasted FOUR days. Four full days of being unable to move, unable to eat, overcome with nausea, and constant dizziness.
And when I DID get up, I looked around and took stock of what had happened around me while I was sick.
I saw all the crumbs from twelve meals and endless snacks. I saw stains from four days of coffee spills on the counters and floors. Toys were scattered everywhere. Days of unwashed laundry piled up, and baskets of unfolded clean clothes still right where I had left them. I saw four days worth of cleaning ahead of me.
I get it: it’s tough to work a full-time job, come home, and do all the things I would normally do. I know, because I did it for a while, too. I worked, came home, cooked dinner, cleaned up and did the laundry.
I love getting to stay home and spend time with my daughter! It’s such a blessing! I get to see her grow and change every single day. I saw her hesitant walk turn into a confident run. I’m the one she calls for in the night or when she’s hurt.
But it’s also hard. I’m the only one who’s home all of the time with her. I go almost nowhere without her by my side. Plus, I’m the head chef, laundry expert, and full-time maid.
So, this is my plea, to the partners of those who stay home with children:
- If we’re very ill, try your hardest to take a day off and assist. It will be easier for everyone if we recover faster. Things will get back to normal sooner if the SAHP has help right now. Even it’s only for a half-day or a few hours, every little bit helps.
- If you can’t be there, help us find a sitter or mother’s helper who can be. Getting a few hours of sleep or a shower while knowing our little one is being well taken care of can be the best medicine and is worth every penny.
- When you get home from work, be considerate of our time post-sickness. The last thing a recovering person needs is to play catch-up with cleaning. Wipe up the crumbs and spills, sweep or vacuum the floors, and take care of the laundry. If we do start to feel slightly better, tackling all that housework will surely set us back.
After four days, I finally felt better. But then my husband went down with a VERY light case of the same bug.
While I still did all the usual SAHM tasks and child care routines, I also left him in charge while I ran to the pharmacy and the grocery store. Sometimes, a brief walk in someone else’s shoes is all it takes to pave the way for a new path in the future.
My husband, after completing a couple hours of child care while slightly ill, now has a new understanding of being sick while home with kids. The next time I go down, I’m confident those crumbs will be wiped up and the floors will be swept. And he’ll be happy to pay for that babysitter!