Any sick babies out there?
This is my daughter a few weeks ago - the start of a few weeks of intense sickness for our family. It was a really hard time, but a huge silver lining was we were able to maintain good sleep from our good sleepers through the time.
Impossible? Not at all. Here are my best tips:
- Don't wait when your child cries out in the night. You can tiptoe in and check on them - make sure they haven't thrown up, spiked a fever, and are breathing okay.
- If they do need some assistance, give it! We will give Tylenol or Motrin and then hold and soothe our kids for 5 or 10 minutes until the medicine kicks in. We'll re-check fevers to make sure that they dropped and then put them back in their cribs to sleep.
- If they are 6 months and up, and if you have a baby that already sleeps through the night without breastfeeds, feel free to give water during those feverish wake-ups to keep their liquids up.
- I will sometimes give a bottle or breastfeed if a child vomits in the night. But, know that you will need to fight the next couple of night's wake-ups when they are looking for some milk again.
- Naps can be short, or long, depending on their comfort levels. I rarely wake a sick child from a nap unless: 1. I'm worried about fluid intake 2. The regular last nap of the day I wake to preserve bedtime.
- Awake times could be shorter than normal - not longer. So, keep an eye on the child's sleep signals and the clock.
- If you need to (or are worried enough) sleep near your child to keep a close eye on them, bring a mattress into their room and sleep on their floor.
- Please don't start co-sleeping! Your mattress is not as cool as the baby's. You don't want to spike a fever higher than is needed.
Remember - if you have a baby or child that can sleep - let them sleep! Give comfort for sure, but, then leave them to sleep. Their bodies need it AND they can do it!
This is such a hard time, but, don't make life harder than it needs to be by starting to rock, feed, or co-sleep again... Everyone needs rest to fight this bug!
Dear Mama in the hospital,
Don’t forget to breathe. Scan your body - relax those muscles.
You’re scared. I get it. Me too.
But, in the midst of protecting your little person, try to remember you matter too. Your basic needs have to be met. Eat food. Drink water. Take a break. Say yes to friends requests to help - ask for a quick break, or a hug.
Impossible? You say. I get it. I’m right there with you. Day 4 in paediatric ICU. My babe cries when I leave, and calms when I return. How, when he is this sick, can I leave him to get dinner? To go to the bathroom? To take a minute to have a cry and re-group?
It’s simple - but also so so complex: For him to get a good mom, I need to tend to me too. It’s so easy to forget that. As women, we have been conditioned to look out for everyone else, and not ourselves.
We are taught that we only matter if those of us around us are calm and happy. That our worth is based on others' feelings about us. We are a good wife if our partner is happy. A good mother if our children are happy. A good daughter - friend - employee - if we make those around us feel comfortable.
Well, guess what? That’s crap. You are worthy regardless of how anyone else feels. You deserve happiness too.
As hard as it is, this is one of those times where you need to shift your mind. “But I’m already dealing with a really ill child, how can I do that too?” Because… you don’t have a choice. That baby needs you well. That baby needs you present, and caring, and loving. And the only way to sustain that - is to love yourself too. So… find a way to let you be taken care of too.
When the nurse asks if you need anything say “yes, can you get me some water please?”. Leave your child and pee - even if that means a few minutes of discomfort for them. Allow your friends or your spouse to stay with your child so you can get a break - some quiet to focus on your breathing or call a friend to vent.
Yes, your baby is sick. But you giving up all of your reserves to them won’t make them better. All it will do is make you feel stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted.
You got this. Xo
What can shift your mood for 24 to 48 hours?
For me? Time in nature.
No matter where I live or where I travel, I find myself seeking out nature.
This is a picture from my run today. We’re living at my mother-in-law’s house while we do a renovation, and I found this lovely trail beside a river.
The interesting thing about it - besides the fact that it is a part of the largest patch of untouched nature in urban area in Ontario - is that to the left of this trail is a major road. While running, I’m noticing not only a lovely duck dive under the water, but, the sounds of major traffic making its way to and from work.
I have found in my life that there are always tiny pockets of nature anywhere you go - and, all it takes even the smallest fern, and some focused attention, to decrease your cortisol levels and help you to feel calm.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, over-stimulated, exhausted or generally stressed… find yourself some nature and immerse yourself.
It can be as nice as a forest trail, or as small as a plant that you love.
Many studies have been done about nature and its healing properties - and, the good news is that you don’t have to take a 10 day hiking trip in the Rockies to get the benefits.
Spend time observing that little plant in your room, and notice your body relax.
So, for all those parents out there, don’t just put your kids in nature, get out there too! Take 10 minutes away from the dishes and just stand in your backyard while your kids play. Notice the trees, or the chilly wind, or the sunshine leaping across the snow.
And, if you have a chance to get a workout - consider doing it outside - you’ll get double the cortisol burn!
Our holidays were less than ideal this year.
This is my son - he is almost 2. This picture was taken Christmas Day at the Children’s Hospital near our home.
After a severe reaction to 2 respiratory viruses, we spent 5 days in the ICU and 8 in a regular ward.
But, scary times like these do the oddest thing - they remind you of all of the amazing things you have going for you.
Both my husband and I felt deeply grateful - for the amazing hospital in our backyard, for our family willing to stretch and change traditions so we could be together over the holidays, for the health of our other 2 children, for jobs we love, friends who rallied, and our public healthcare system.
I never imagined being with my child in a hospital so long… so it never occurred to me that I would be also deeply grateful for the fact that my child was an excellent sleeper.
We know that immune systems function way better when we sleep well.
And sleep well he did.
Amidst the bells, the alarms, the coughing fits, the nurses checks, the change in schedule, the discomforts… he was able to sleep. If he was woken by something, he was able to easily get back to sleep after we soothed him a little. But, it was never OUR job to get him to sleep - he could do that all on his own.
He maintained his 12 hours at night, and increased naps considerably so that he could fight off his viruses.
He didn’t have his regular routines, or crib, or his dark room with perfect routines… And yet, because he COULD sleep, and because he NEEDED to sleep, he just did.
The nurses were impressed with his ability to catch his zzz’s, and noted that this wasn’t the case with many families.
His sleep time provided my husband and I time to work, to unwind, to process our own feelings, and, to sleep and nap ourselves.
Honestly, I think it’s what helped us to keep our sanity during a pretty challenging time.
As we move into 2020, we are hoping to move this scary time into our distant memories. But, we want to hold onto our new-found gratitude for all the little things we forgot to focus on… with great sleep being at the top of our list!
Sigh… Holidays are over, and real life returns.
The fun, the family, the presents, the late nights, and memories…. And… the tantrums, over-sugared, over-stimulated children that are STILL flying high.
You might be asking - Is it even possible to return to a normal routine?
The good news? YES. It’s totally possible.
The bad news? It’s likely not going to happen without a bit of protest from your children.
Here are some easy steps to follow to get back on track:
1. Sit down and make a list of troubling behaviours.
2. Decide on what your limits actually are that will fix the problem behaviours (e.g. no popsicles, bedtime at 7:30, sitting through dinner, etc.)
3. Make a plan of action and then let your kids know what the new (old) rules are, and that things are changing to help them get back to a healthier lifestyle.
Option 1 - Rip Off the Bandaid Method - Bring all the rules back on track at the same time. Major protest, short time.
Option 2 - Slow Rip Method - Pick one rule, reinforce it for a few days until it’s back to normal, then move to the next rule. Minor protest, longer time.
4. Most importantly: BE CONSISTENT & DON’T FOLD. If you say there’s a new rule, and then you let your child whine for 40 minutes and THEN you fold, what you have taught them is that IF they whine for 40 minutes, they get what they want. Don’t want that? Don’t fold.
What rules did you slip away from over the holidays?