Specifically the kind of self-care needed heading into flu and cold season if you’re a mom.
I wouldn’t describe myself as an extreme germaphobe. I go to the gym often, my kids go to the gym daycare and have since they were small, I’m not anal about protecting them from germs and I’m not overly freaked out about my own exposure to germs and bacteria, because I know it happens and that’s part of being a human. Plus, building up our immune systems and all that. We don’t live in a bubble. My kids occasionally get sick and so do I, normal type stuff that can be solved with Z-Pacs and antibiotics and good old fashioned chicken soup.
Except in the last year I got hit a little bit harder than normal. In the span of about 6 months I came down with the following in chronological order:
3. Strep throat
4. Cankers, basically made me feel like I had tiny knives in my mouth at all times
Now, strep throat isn’t too out of the ordinary for the winter season, but after mono and shingles it felt like the cruel icing on my viral infested cake. I mean, mono, the kissing disease? I’ve kissed the same guy for the past 10 years and he didn’t have a trace of mono. He took this pic and posted it to IG the day I got home from the doctor:
And SHINGLES FOR PITY’S SAKE? Did you know that you can’t even get the shingles vaccine if you’re not at least over the age of 50 and it’s only really recommended for people over the age of 60? I found that out when my doctor shook his head at the gross scaly rash on my hip and side, and wrote me a prescription for anti-virals the size of my thumb. Old people, shingles is for old people.
This is the pic I sent me husband when I first noticed the shingles with a “WTF IS THIS??”!
Except I had it. And all that other stuff too. WHAT GIVES?
In short, I was wiped out and stretched too thin.
My work life had exploded (in a good way) forcing long and late hours, my mom life was busier than ever. I had signed on to be the PTA secretary for my kids’ school, I had responsibilities at my church. I had a toddler with newborn sleep habits, and I was getting up at 5:00 am to hit the gym every morning anyway because you know, goals and stuff.
I was writing checks for my time that I couldn’t cash and my sweet, precious and delicious sleep was suffering along with everything else. There was about a 10 month period of me dropping the ball left and right. Forgetting all the things, letting people down, overcommitting and paying the price in viral illnesses and communicable diseases too because my immune system was basically TURNT.
Don’t be like me.
Here’s what I learned from all that:
#1. ENERGY DRINKS CAN’T SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS
I mean, duh. But I was living off Redbulls and Rockstars and those are basically like liquid blow as far as I can tell. Great for a few minutes and then instant regret. What even is Taurine? Bull piss? It sounds like bull piss. Yum! Once I cut those out my heart stopped racing, I stopped sweating at random times, and my quality of sleep improved. Oh, and I stopped getting so many damn canker sores too. I’m no doctor but those things all seem related.
#2. SAY NO
I had to start saying no to stuff. I lived out my last few weeks of PTA commitments, I passed on a lot of invites and requests for my time and I’m still doing that. I was tired of letting everyone down anyway, and it became really obvious to me that I had to start taking things off the table and lowering the bar. This seems like basic logic but it seems like a lot of us are really missing out on this point over and over and over again which is dumb. Practice it in the mirror if you need to, JUST SAY NO.
#3. GET MORE SLEEP
If anyone knows how impossible this can seem at times, it’s me. I work late hours, I get up early, my kid doesn’t sleep. It is what it is. What I am doing is prioritizing my own sleep as much as I can. I have a few nights a week where inevitably, I’m up way past midnight working. I sleep as late as I can the next day. I understand that the world won’t end if I don’t get my workout in at 5 am. I started chloroforming my toddler to get him to sleep better.
Just kidding, that’s not legal.
It’s not ideal, but kids getting up in the night is also nothing that isn’t an issue for most working moms. We push through, and it can’t last forever, right? IT CAN’T.
As far as that non-sleeping toddler goes, he just had tubes put in his ears and his tonsils and adenoids removed in the hopes that will help. We’re 3 weeks post-surgery and he’s slept through the night solid for the past 4 nights. I’m a new woman, wheee!!!
Look, I’m no beacon on “doing it right”, but I am trying harder to take better care of myself because when Mama ain’t happy, everyone else can pretty much suck it and you know how that story goes. It goes like shingles and mono and strep throat and that is pretty much the worst. Trust me.
Consider this a plea to learn from my mistakes, of which there are many. As we head into cold and flu season, I’m feeling pretty hopeful that this year will be nothing like the last because I wouldn’t wish that stuff on anyone!
May the Gods of good health and much sleep be with us all! Take care of yourself, mmkeh?!