My Steps to Illness and Recovery: Self Care for the Sick Working Mom

Because I am always on the go, illness hits me hard, even if it takes a few days to come on.

I am also one who doesn’t get the flu shot due to the inflammatory response it causes in my body. Luckily, even without the flu shot, the flu only hits me once or twice a year.

This round was a bit worse since I’m also half way through pregnancy and morning sickness has yet to subside! The bad news is, I’m pretty much limited to acetaminophen due to pregnancy, while the good news is, I have a handy prescription for anti-nauseants from morning sickness.

What do I do for myself when I get sick? I’m not talking about a cold, either. It has to be flu, a sinus infection or worse to truly shut me down.

1) Unplug.

Other than informing my clients and staff that I am unavailable due to illness, I disappear from social media, email and phone. My phone is on DND and rarely in the same room as me when I’m ill. Unless someone else is on death’s door (one of the horses, for example), my care-giving ends.

2) Rest.

When I’m ill, I can’t even read the news. That’s saying something for me. Under normal circumstances, I use FlipBoard to unwind, keep track of financial news and continue my personal growth (I love Ladders.com!). Note: I use my tablet, which isn’t connected to my email or social media to keep my digital media time truly for myself. If I can’t read the news, typically, I can sleep.

3) Arrange for a sitter.

If I need to rest and my husband is at work, caring for my 3 year old daughter isn’t resting, even if I’m on the couch and she’s playing on the floor. I arrange a sitter so that my daughter can still have an active, busy day. Remember, my husband works 48 hour shifts, so if I have a sitter for the day, my daughter is still my responsibility for the evening and overnight. I’m not one to splurge on a sitter unnecessarily, but I learned that if I call a sitter in so I can rest for several hours, I can muscle through the rest of child care during my husband’s shifts. Having a sitter for the day also makes my daughter much more willing to have a quiet evening once she is my responsibility again.

4) Warm my “The Original Bed Buddy” in the Microwave.

I love The Original Bed Buddy because it holds its heat, easily let’s me add essential oils to it and is heavy enough to feel like a light massage against my aching muscles.

5) Clear my sinuses with Nasal Clarity by Hidden Acres Homestead.

The Nasal Clarity Bath and Spray is my favorite and I spray it on my chest and diffuse it throughout the house, but they make a candle, too, for anyone who doesn’t use diffusers. Not only does it let me breathe again, it includes a natural immune booster called Capiaba.

6) Take a probiotic.

I usually take one anyway, but many of them allow temporary increase in dosage and once the illness hits my lower GI, it’s a life saver. I actually become semi-functional 1-2 days sooner than I would without one.

My favorite is Saccharomyces Boulardii, which I haven’t been able to find in drug stores, but it was recommended to me by my primary physician over a year ago so I order it online.

My chiropractor also recommends MegaSporeBiotic, which I haven’t tried yet only because I didn’t want to mess with changing probiotics while dealing with morning sickness during pregnancy. However, my research on it suggests it’s a much higher quality product (no toxins, allergens or artificial ingredients) and includes antioxidants. Added benefit? The dosage is half of the one I currently use! I’m excited to try it myself! If you give it a try, use the link above, use registration code TV1274 and then get 10% off using this code: HCPC1274WELCOME.

Recovery: Return to Life Slowly

Once I feel up to moving a little, I have to keep myself from overdoing it and ending up back in bed because I am one to push myself too hard. That means setting priorities and taking breaks!

7) Do a Little Self-Care. Shower. Brush and Floss Teeth. Use Face Lotion Again.

When I’m truly ill, I can’t stand up long enough to take a shower. As soon as I can stand for 15-20 minutes again, I take a shower, brush my teeth, floss, use mouthwash and use a facial mask to unclog pores and strip off a few days of dead cells. I return to my face/neck/chest skin care regiment, but skip makeup.

I usually accomplish these tasks the first morning I’m feeling a little better, before my daughter wakes up. If I have time, I do a home mani-pedi, too. Being a professional horsewoman means my hands and feet typically need attention every few days to stay both comfortable and presentable.

8) Protect the household from my illness.

I replace and wash all hand towels, bath towels, dish cloths, household cleaning cloths, wash cloths and bed sheets immediately following my shower. I also diffuse the Homestead Equalizer Blend throughout the house and use the Homestead Equalizer Cleanser on countertops, sink vanities, toilets and handles (including microwave, refrigerator, cabinets and door knobs) throughout the house. I really like the Homestead Equalizer Collection because it’s a great continuation of the Nasal Clarity Collection from Hidden Acres Homestead in that it limits the spread of microorganisms and supports immune function.

9) Be a Semi-Active Mom Again.

My daughter is next on my list of priorities. Besides returning to basic care and making simple meals for her, rather than depending on ready-made items or leftovers, she and I do short bursts of active play.

I sit on the living room floor and support the play, but don’t have to rough house myself. Examples are dressing her up to be a witch flying (running) around the room, turning on the movie “Leap” so she can dance to it or playing hide-and-seek with her imaginary friend, Casper the Ghost (he came to keep the bad ghosts away at Halloween this year and stuck around). All I have to do is be his voice and pick hiding spots for him.

We intermingle active play with legos, play-doh, coloring or painting: activities where she and I are both sitting and taking it easy, but she is fully engaged and happy.

Even when I’m healthy, we take a mid morning break for snack and a short rest and do it again in the afternoon (she often still naps during afternoon break).

I also plan a LONG bath time. She loves bath time and all I have to do is sit by the tub to play or to bathe her.

Next thing I know, we’ve been through an entire day where I got to take it easy and my daughter doesn’t feel like she had to do the same.

10) Focus on the small animals and plants.

Once I’m successfully semi-active with my daughter again, I increase my scope to include the other smaller living things on my farm. Other than the houseplants, I don’t get to take a break from the small animals while I’m ill if my husband is working, but if he’s home, he takes care of the house cat, dogs and takes the 300 yard walk to close the chicken coop at night. My staff cover the rest.

As soon as I can, I return to feeding the small animals in the house and outside. That’s the dogs, house cat, barn cat, pigs and flock of birds.

I clean the kitty litters and start taking the dogs outside again. Fortunately, my cats are good about using the litter box even if I don’t get to it for a few days so I don’t have to ask my husband to help with that one! Taking the dogs out also means reasserting myself as the dominant over the younger dog (he’s only 3).

I can walk to open the coop and sheep pen again in the mornings and close the coop at night.

I water the houseplants. They simply have to survive while I’m sick. I figure my illness mimics the occasional short drought and they’ll make it. I trim the dead leaves and move on.

11) Return to my digital office.

That means catching up on anything I can do on my phone without spending time sitting/standing in my office. I catch up on phone calls, texts, five work email addresses and my business social media sites.

12) Return to the Horses.

I address any remaining first aid issues that occurred during my illness and restart work with my rehab cases.

Full Return to My Mosaic Life.

Steps 1-12 occur in 3-5 days typically. Then, the day I return to full work on the farm (teaching, training, mucking, feeding, repairs, improvements, etc), I am usually hounded by my turkey, pigs and horses. They are excited to see me and it’s a day full of affection from them, which is incredibly healing in itself. Turk the turkey follows me around, Peanut the pig comes for kisses, Tinkerbell the pig comes for a belly rub, our sheep, Bert and Ernie, come get petted and I get hugs from nearly all of the 21 horses on the property (they stick the bridge of their faces into my chest and stomach for an embrace).

That day also marks a full return to my household responsibilities. Laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking, and more.

Illness is allowed to derail you. It’s a time to let your body heal, which means don’t push yourself and stop the internal mental fight with yourself about all the things that aren’t getting done. You will heal faster and come back stronger rather than worn out and already a perfect Petri dish for the next awaiting illness.

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