The Stay-at-Home Mom’s Guide to Sick Days

Recently, my family endured an 11-day bout of “someone in this family has something gross coming out of some orifice.” It. Was. Awesome. I couldn’t even write a blog post because I was constantly doing something for some poor child of mine. I never counted loads of laundry, Lysol spray bottles, or hand sanitizer applications, but I think a million would be a safe bet. And my kids…poor babies. I snark and sass them all the time, but I just can’t pour on the sarcasm when they feel bad. I soldiered on and hoped that the illness would never hit me. And I got lucky…I was spared…this time.

Last year, I had what I thought was the flu but ended up being…strep throat. For around four days, death would’ve been preferable, and it just so happened to occur during the time when Jeff was working 15-hour days. I was telling the kids to eat whatever they could reach in the pantry, lying prostrate on the couch, eating nothing, and watching 88 episodes of House Hunters.

This got me to thinking that, since I became a stay-at-home mom, I haven’t had a sick day, even when I was actually sick. Let’s be honest…when I was a high school English teacher, some “sick days” were more “mental health” days, as in, “I’m not responsible for what may happen to the next student who ignores me when asked to unglue her cell phone from her thumbs.” After I taught for 11 years, the CDC calls me when they need some good ole iron-clad immune system antibodies. But mental health days…I took some. Everyone does, right?

I read an article online recently about a mom who was buying a plane ticket to the beach…for one. That’s right, friends, Lauren Apfel, a stay-at-home mother of four small kids, will be spending five days on the beach all by herself. Sign. Me. Up.

I read Lauren’s evil-genius plan during the 11-day siege of grossness. And I’m not gonna lie, I checked Southwest’s rates to Panama City Beach between holding Sarah’s hair and giving the boys 8 baths per day. And then it hit me: the next time I’m sick, I am taking a sick day.

Stay-at-home moms don’t have the luxury, frankly. If I close my eyes from burning fever, lack of sleep, inability to breathe or swallow comfortably…some kid wants something: milk, lunch, diaper change, blah, blah, blah. Some chore nags at me: I can quickly put those dishes in the dishwasher, the laundry is piling up, why are there toys in my bed? These are things that make it impossible to relax.

So, Lauren Apfel inspired me: the next time I’m sick (and I mean the dog-sick-eat-what-you-can-reach-in-the-pantry illness), I’m checking into a hotel across town. I am no good to my family as dog-sick Carrie, and it takes longer to recover if I’m constantly still working and not resting. So, Holiday Inn, here I come.

My Plan:

  1. Comfy jammies. No one is around to judge. Bonus points for glasses and fuzzy slippers.
  2. Downton Abbey marathon. I have owned seasons 1-4 of this show for over a year now and have only binge-watched the first season. I almost want to get sick just to make this happen.
  3. Books. Oh my goodness. Uninterrupted reading time when I’m not so exhausted that I fall asleep after two pages? Yes, please. I have a stack of books on the bedside table that would be perfect for a sick day.
  4. Food delivery for one. Oh, yes. This girl will only be feeding herself, thank you very much. I am also not above using the new delivery service in my town which, for a small fee, brings you food from places that don’t normally deliver. I will probably eat this food in front of the TV on the side of the bed that I won’t be sleeping on. But I won’t kick myself out of bed for eating crackers, ya know what I mean?
  5. Cell phone? What cell phone? In Mexico, they call it “incommunicado.” In Arkansas, it’s “call me and I exercise my right to bear arms.” The one exception is texted pictures of the children in their jammies, preferably sleeping. Otherwise, don’t call me, I’ll call you. But probably not.
  6. Alcohol. Nothing says recovering from sickness like drinking alone, right?
  7. Some sort of sleeping pill. Friends, I haven’t slept since 2007 when Sarah was born, and I’m not great at sleeping away from home. However, for my sick day, I think I can make a strong case for some narcotically-induced zzz’s.
  8. Sleeping in, no alarm clock, and a “do not disturb” door hanger.
  9. Breakfast alone. I haven’t really decided my breakfast plan. It depends on how well I’m recovered from sickness and/or drinking alone the night before. It could be breakfast from room service or venturing forth to trendy coffee place inhabited by college students and hipsters.
  10. Triumphant return. I’m not gonna lie…most men couldn’t keep it together with three small kids and the wife away, but Jeff is not that guy. Yes, the kids might watch more TV than they would if Nazi-mom were around, but I’m sure I would come home to clean everything, laundry done, and floor that I hate mopped. Yes, ladies, he is that good.

Yep, this sounds pretty good to me. I think I feel a fever coming on…

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