Saturday, September 28, 2013

Surviving a cold with a toddler

It was inevitable. I was getting sleepy at work, the tickle in my throat was getting more annoying and what I thought were allergies were getting stronger. None of this clicked until the head congestion set in halfway through my last day of work for the week and I realized I was getting sick.

Ugh, one of the worst annoyances to a mom. The common cold. On top of being annoying to deal with, deal with a cold has to be one of the biggest triggers of Mom Guilt. And I have to keep reminding myself to take time for me. But, tell that to any mom and she'll nod graciously, but secretly think, "Yeah, OK, like that every happens."

So, I prepared. I got my liquids, my Tylenol Cold and Sinus and my tissues set up in the living room and L. got to watch as much TV as she wanted while I sat like a zombie, pretty much doing the bare minimum of making sure she didn't hurt herself or get into trouble. 

The boyfriend was a sweetheart and got me anything I needed or wanted. And I became a slug on the couch. I didn't work out. I didn't do yoga. I didn't count calories, but because I didn't feel well, I'm fairly certain I stayed under my daily caloric goal.

I looked on Pinterest for remedies, finding a hot drink of water, apple cider vinegar, honey and lemon juice was pretty good for about an hour. And after it wore off, I didn't have the energy to make another so I stuck with cough drops for my sore throat.

Basically the equivalent to a liquid cough drop.

Dinners were as simple as macaroni and cheese with chicken nuggets and pizza. We didn't even sit at the table. I let L. watch TV as she ate her dinner, and I counted down the minutes until bedtime (her's and mine).

"The Lorax" and macaroni and cheese with chicken nuggets.
In her eyes, I am the greatest mom ever.
I usually do a cleanup with her before bed so I don't wake up to a disaster of a living room when we wake up the next morning. That didn't happen. And it continued to get worse as the days went on. FEMA was needed by the time our weekend was over.

Now, here comes the stupid part. I was convinced I would be well enough to go to the Big E on my third day with the cold. Sometimes I feel like I torture myself in the name of being a good mom. This was one of those instances.

For those who don't know, the Big E is a seriously large state fair that represents all of New England. It's huge, it's crowded, it's a nightmare for a mom and a toddler. Why I subjected myself to it, sick or not, is anybody's guess. I'd like to blame it on the cold meds, but the boyfriend and I had been planning to go for months. It's become an annual tradition at this point.

Despite the few adorable pictures I was able to take, chasing a toddler around and dealing with crowds made me cranky. Forgetting to eat made me worse. Good thing the Big E is known for its abundance of food, including deep fried everything. I got some Rhode Island Clam Cakes and split them with L. and felt temporarily better.

Someone was definitely in awe of the big bear.

We wandered around, attempted to go on the merry-go-round, but L. encountered her first horse earlier and when it neighed, her eyes got wide and she put her hands up and screamed, "All done horse! All done horse!" When she saw the horses on the merry-go-round, she wanted nothing to do with them and I hung onto the pole with one arm and held her on my hip with the other.

The merry-go-round was not so merry for L.

When we left, it was close to L.'s bedtime and she was done for the day. I was the mom dragging her toddler, kicking and screaming, from the fair. We got in the car and headed home and I was back in a pissy mood again. I tried to remind myself I wouldn't remember the bad memories and the good memories would be all that remained in my mind with time, but I didn't feel like I had accomplished giving L. a good time and she would have been just as happier, if not more so, just staying home.

The next day, L. seemed to have forgotten about her mood from the night before, as she always does. Again, I let her watch as much TV as she wanted while I sat on the couch and nursed the remainder of my cold. I was lucky she was showing signs of needed a nap early in the day so we could do that before I had to drop her off and go to work.

By the end of the week, I just have a few leftover symptoms, making me sound worse than I actually feel. And, in my head, I still have a tally system saying, "I'll make this up to her this week, I swear." But I know she won't remember me being sick or how upset she got at the Big E. Hopefully she won't remember her new fear of horses or thinks we are now a 24-7 TV family.

Tips I learned:
  • I've read it in almost every parenting book, but in the case of being sick, it is like being on a plane when they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. If you're not taken care of, your ability to take care of others will diminish.
  • Cold medicine works. I know biologically colds are shorter without medicine, but they are much worse. I'd rather be a functioning person with a few symptoms than a nonfunctioning person who can't do anything.
  • Just. Stay. Home. I can't stress this enough. Even if you feel 60 percent, the 40 percent will definitely hinder your ability to have fun.
  • If you have help, take it! I don't know how I would have gotten through the days with L. without the boyfriend being an extra set of eyes on her as I dozed off and on while on the couch.
  • Stock up on cold medicine and supplies before you're sick. Having the chest rub, cough drops and tissues in the house before I needed them came in handy when I didn't want to leave the comforts of the couch. At the first mention of, "I think I'm getting a cold," the boyfriend went out and got me cold medicine (because he's amazing, if I haven't mentioned it yet).
  • Make sure your child is interested in shows that are tolerable for long stretches. While she watches the Disney Channel when she's with her dad, I happen to hate most things associated with Disney. When she's with me, I've gotten her into shows I can find on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, hoping we can eliminate cable soon. Luckily, we've gotten into "Curious George," "Yo Gabba Gabba," the BabyFirstTV shows and, most recently, "Blue's Clues," all of which are tolerable and entertaining, even, for adults.
I get sick maybe twice a year. As a matter of fact, now that my cold is almost gone, I'm pretty happy to have gotten it out of the way and I won't have to worry about getting sick (knock on wood) for a few months now. I'm glad it happened before the huge holiday rush, actually. But, it can't be said enough, I wish it hadn't happened in the first place.