BLOG: How a cold can totally de-rail a family
Today is day 11 of a rather epic cold that has invaded our family and given us all hacking coughs and snotty nasal passages. I know it is just a common cold but when a whole family gets infected with the full Coldie McCold face, it makes functioning as per normal extremely challenging.
Two weeks ago I felt like I had the whole parenting two kids, working and running the household down pat. My husband Jules and I had even had a conversation about how we felt the balance was almost right in the household. He had adjusted his hours to come home earlier from work to be with the boys and help me to get shit done at home. The kids were in the swing of the busy but just do-able weekly routine of school runs, daycare drop offs, tennis lessons, baby gymbaroo and the like, and I was taking on more work and even managing to squeeze in some fitness activities.
Yet last week poor Toby came home from school feeling a bit under the weather. He started sneezing and took himself off to bed with a cold. I couldn’t send him to school the next day and so as I work from home anyway, I typed and emailed around his requests for snacks, water, cuddles and Panadol.
Eleven days later and with Toby almost recovered but Leo and I in the full swing of it, I’m wondering whether or not to just burn the house down to get rid of whatever awful cold germs have infected us.
I am sneezing, the baby is coughing and the house is littered with little bottles of Nurofen, tissue boxes and nasal decongestants. Everything is in a mess, and not just the drug and tissue related detritus, but all the stuff I haven’t been able to get to in between doctors appointments and nursing a cranky, sad, snot filled baby. There is a load of washing in the machine that has been there since Wednesday and the house looks like we have been burgled.
It is fair to say that on top of being physically drained, none of us are in our best form. The baby is understandably ratty from lack of sleep due to excess coughing and I am exhausted from caring for everyone else and the house and not myself. I am also cranky because I have had no time to work properly or even just get out of the house for a breather. I am spending a lot of time wishing Mary Poppins would just hurry the hell up and arrive.
My husband is a GP and so his days are busy and booked up in advance, meaning that it falls to me as the freelancer on a much lower income, to care for our poorly sick kids each and every time. Practically and logistically this makes sense, but it doesn’t mean I like it. It puts an extra strain on the relationship and the way that I feel every time one of the kids starts to sniffle - I immediately start stressing about how and when I will get my work done on time.
I hate seeing my kids unwell and my worry levels hit a peak when they get fevers and look so sad and sorry for themselves at 3am. I do my best to stay as calm and sympathetic as possible during the day, and in the middle of the night, but spending days and weeks with grumpy, sickly infants does take its toll. And here we all are after 11 days of snotty faces and paracetamol and I am so ready for this whole episode to be over so we can all be well again, routine can resume as normal and I can get back to using my slightly fuzzy brain.
As both kids get older, the attention they require when sick will become a lot less. Instead of screams, I will be able to ask Leo what is wrong and give cuddles before switching on the television for some sick day viewing while mummy works from the dining room table. Hell, if I’m sick too then I’ll snuggle up next to him and enjoy taking time off to eat soup and watch old movies. Until then I have to work on my patience and let the washing piles and unanswered emails wait a few more days.
I will also be sure to book the whole family in for the flu vaccination this year – winter is coming and I’m pretty sure Mary Poppins is not.