Caring for Unwell People, Big and Small

It started at 5am on Monday with ‘I feel very hot’. The feverish 9 year-old was given Calpol, a hug and brought back to bed, while the toddler decided it was obviously getting up time. Fast forward a couple of very busy days in work and we end up in a late-night, walk-in clinic where the doctor informs me that the little guy has a strep throat and is ‘inevitably in a lot of pain’. Once he was dosed up and safely ensconced in bed, I spent the night berating myself for not paying enough attention, for being a working parent and for just about everything else I wasn’t doing as a parent. Somewhere around dawn, I had an epiphany – children get sick, it happens. The important thing is to nurse them and to mind ourselves as parents in the process. In a nutshell, less guilt and more self care.

Being up over a few nights with a sick child can have the same affect as jet-lag, minus the cocktails and sunshine. Your heart goes out to them because you can’t make them feel instantly better with a hug and the regular household routine goes out the window. Who feels like cooking when appetites are dwindling so while the cooker is on strike, the washing machine is working over-time. Towels and bed clothes go on hot washes while you dream about throwing yourself into a hot shower. The thing is, all of those things can wait. Focus on yourself and your child and, I promise, the world won’t end.

Your child is probably lethargic from being unwell so take every opportunity to just snuggle together – in bed, on the couch while watching movies, anywhere that works. They need the attention (because illness makes us all needy) and you need the down-time. Stock up on smoothies and frozen ice pops to soothe sore throats and ensure hydration. In between doses of medicine, they can also feel like a much-needed little treat. Whether your child is 2 or 12, being unwell can make them clingy and a little demanding but try to respond without smothering. Remember, even babies can pick up on parental stress so try to keep calm. While your inside voice may be screaming ‘yes love, I would love to run downstairs to get you ANOTHER glass of water’, the voice they hear needs to be soothing and reassuring.

Remember, children get sick, it happens.

This article was contributed by a member of Parenting Limerick.