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When you can’t call in sick: aka parenthood

Do you remember the luxury of being unwell pre-kids? Calling in sick to work, crawling back under your duvet, day-time napping, hot drinks consumed while they still retained their descriptive qualities? All the while lamenting how wretched you felt.

Then you had kids. And you realised how wretched you could really feel when you’re unwell because * NEWSFLASH * you can’t call in sick. Ever.

I write this on my sofa, snuggled with my eldest while my 11 month old sleeps. I have tonsillitis. It’s my thing. Whenever I get run down, it seeks me out. It makes me rest, I suppose.

I was lying awake last night, with fever and chills (it is so much more than “just a sore throat” people) and razorblades in my throat thinking, “how am I going to get through tomorrow?”. My youngest has also been unwell this week with hand, foot & mouth, but thankfully at the tail-end of it. I was thinking of some of my previous bouts of tonsillitis, weighing them up: “is it as bad as that time…?” and “what about that week in Argentina?”. Unfortunately I had to conclude that yes, it is that bad!

So to illustrate just how awful it is being sick when you have to look after small children, in my experience it is worse than…

  • fainting mid-wee off of a toilet seat onto a cold, tiled floor, smashing your glasses – on to your face! – in the process. My then flatmate found me, shrieked a lot and called an ambulance (the paramedics concluding I was simply dehydrated from the tonsillitis-induced fever). There is no dignified way to faint off of a toilet seat. Fact.
  • having tonsillitis a couple of days after arriving in Argentina, your then boyfriend (now husband) keen to get box-ticking and practically frogmarching you around Buenos Aires while you clutch your throat, using rusty back-packer Spanish to try to buy throat lozenges. I recall Eva Peron’s family tomb in the beautiful La Recoleta Cemetery being a real low point, along with a rocky boat ride to Uruguay the next day.
  • being on your second all-nighter while working at a City law firm, throat throbbing, sweating profusely, trying to survive on Percy Pigs your room-mate has kindly brought you and being allowed, as a special dispensation, to go and lie down for a bit in one of the partners’ flats in the basement of the building (yes, these exist) but being instructed to leave your blackberry on so that every couple of minutes it vibrates next to your head, somehow making the pain of the tonsillitis worse.

So there you have it. It’s worse than all that. The double all-nighter experience close (I can still remember the relief of falling asleep in the taxi home when I was finally released into daylight) but not quite there.


My hands down worst ever tonsillitis experience was last May.

We had moved the week before from East London to our new home in Kent; me, my husband and our two sons (then 24 months and 2 months). Most of our things were still in boxes. We knew no-one and very little about the local area. I didn’t know where the local doctor was and was obviously not registered. I was exclusively breastfeeding. By a miracle, Arthur at 2 months, slept through the night I was feeling really bad. I don’t know how I would have been able to feed him had he woken and that thought alone was seriously stressing me out. I had nothing left. My husband was busy at work and not able to be around. It was a stressful time for all of us.

I still don’t know how I got through those next few days, trying to keep both the boys fed and occupied (thank you CBeebies!), other than that motherhood gives you the opportunity to dig deeper than you thought you could.

Children give you strength.

I wrote a little ode to my sons that day, medicine.

That’s the thing with parenthood. With every low, there’s a high. I may have felt insanely rough that day and like the world’s worst mother but the only thing guaranteed to make you feel better on days like those is a smile or a cuddle from one of your kids.

So I thank my sons for the medicinal powers of their love. And apologise that they’re probably going to be having another cheese sandwich for tea.

How do you juggle being sick with looking after your kids?

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  1. Being sick when you have small children is horrid! My toddler literally just hits me over the head with lego when I’m ill. And when she recently blinded me in one eye and I was in excruciating pain and couldn’t see or function for 5 days she just laughed at me. Terrors. Thanks for linking to #coolmumclub lovely x

    • thebrightnessofthesedays thebrightnessofthesedays

      That’s just her showing you how much she cares! Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub xx

  2. One of the hidden advantages of being a working mum is that you can parcel the toddler off to nursery, call in sick, and then go back to bed! That and my toddler gets to have lots of baths on days when I’m ill (water = happily amused for hours) #effitfriday

    • thebrightnessofthesedays thebrightnessofthesedays

      Ha ha, love it! Something for me to look forward to!

  3. *hugs* I swear Marianna can tell when I’m ill, even at her age. She expresses this knowledge by being louder, making more mess, and generally ensuring I know that she’s there… Hehe. x #thelist

    • thebrightnessofthesedays thebrightnessofthesedays

      They do don’t they!! Same when you have a hangover!! Xx

  4. I haven’t been really sick since I’ve had my daughter, but I’ve had days when I haven’t felt great and I wondered how I would cope if I was really ill. I’m guessing not very well. Best try to keep my immunity up! #effitfridays

    • thebrightnessofthesedays thebrightnessofthesedays

      I think like with everything as a mum, you get through it, it’s just not very pleasant! More Vit C! X

  5. Disney. It’s all about Disney and lying on the sofa, though these days the three year old also likes to “help” by playing Doctor. The Baby however just wants to pull my hair and crawl all over me!

  6. Being sick with little kids is the worst, not even allowed to close your eyes for a few minutes or just lie down without someone climbing on you. So difficult! #thelist 🙂 x

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