Images: Getty | Words: Sara Conway
You know the feeling: teeth chattering, skin like sandpaper, joints like an old lady’s… The kind of ill that should mean a day in bed. It also means a new virus has begun, which is always annoying, but today I’m completely infuriated because I’ve been ill for months. My husband, daughter and I have been tag-teaming different illnesses. I’ve lost track of who’s got what and who gave what to whom.
And we’re not alone. Everyone I meet at the moment is struggling to get over something. More friends have had ’flu this year than any other. Did you know, three times as many people died of ’flu this winter than last year? And around 700 people were admitted to hospital each week. The whole country needs to dive under a duvet and stay there until the sun comes out.
Pre-parenting, I would have prescribed myself a day of rest. But – you guessed it – that’s not going to be possible. I’ve taken days off work to look after my daughter, so now it’s time to soldier on. I’d like to say I’m the soldiering kind, but in reality I do it for a few hours and then become the world’s biggest martyr: “Why isn’t anyone noticing what a brave little soldier I’m being? Harumph.”
So, I’ve decided to take action. I need to figure out how to stop all these viruses pinging around the house. And I need to stop feeling quite so sorry for myself. Here are my top tips to look after yourself (and everyone else) when you’re ill…
1 Treat yourself: I always feel happy when I treat myself to something nice. I’m broke at the moment, so I’ve gone for a posh tub of hot chocolate because it feels decadent, but only cost a few quid (much cheaper than buying one in Costa). Plus, it’s a hug in a mug.
2 Keep everyone’s hands clean: I’ve just read that the two greatest developments in stopping the spread of disease have been vaccines and hand washing. It got me thinking that we could be more vigilant hand washers. From now on, before anyone handles or eats food it’s off to the sink first.
3 Embrace time at home: On days when it’s just my daughter and me, I tend to rush us out to soft play, the park or a playdate. But today I just want to lie down on the couch, so I’m braving an at-home day. And do you know what, my daughter hasn’t climbed the walls yet. We’ve watched a bit more TV than usual, but I’ve also kept her busy with some low-key ideas like these.
4 Limit sharing food and drinks: How kids love to trade snacks and water bottles – with siblings, friends and you. When my toddler makes a grab for my water bottle, or bites a banana and then tries to shove it in my mouth, I usually give in and let her. From now on, I’m going to be firm and say no.
5 Get some sleep: How often do I spend the day longing for bed, but once my daughter’s in hers I forget all about mine. I stay up way too late, refreshing Facebook, reading updates from people I don’t even like. Tonight, I’m putting my phone down and getting into bed early with a book and a hot chocolate. It sounds so luxurious; I don’t know why I don’t do it every night.