I was intending to give you a full-length article today, but I’m sick and have had an exhausting week. So I think I’ll “practice what I preach” and give you the short version instead of the long version. It will probably be easier for you to absorb anyway! I’ll save all the nitty-gritty details for my book.
Some days you’re just gonna be tired! Some days you’re just not going to feel well. For a few of us, we are tired or sick more often than the average woman.
However, life goes on. Meals still need to be cooked. Kids still need to be fed. Underwear still needs to be washed. Homeschooling lessons still need to be taught.
What does an exhausted, sick mother do?
Let Someone Else Be the Boss
Being a mother to your children is important. So who will “boss the kids around” when you don’t feel good? (I think this is one of the most exhausting parts of being a mother.) Who will tell them to brush their teeth, do their math, practice their piano, pick up their shoes, not annoy their little sisters, take out the garbage, etc., etc., etc.?
Honestly, I’m here to tell you that YOU don’t have to do it all! Your children need to learn to do what’s right from an internal motivation, not just because mom is standing over them, threatening or continually reminding them. Isn’t your goal to raise independent, conscientious, responsible children?
Of course, just because this is your goal, it doesn’t mean that your children have arrived. They probably still need supervision. Maybe they’re just really young and haven’t learned how to do things on their own yet!
This is where a handy-dandy wall chart is great. BEFORE you get sick, make a wall chart of tasks that your children need to do in a day. (You may need several charts, including picture charts for your non-readers.) Have a “practice sick day” BEFORE you need it, having the kids “obey” the wall charts. (Kids think this is really fun, by the way!)
Routines and Charts to Have Ready
What kinds of charts (and routines) should you be prepared with? (Note: These will depend on your children’s ages.)
- Self Care (brushing teeth, combing hair, putting deodorant on, taking a bath or shower, etc.) For an example of a preschool chart, click here.
- Bedrooms (making the bed, putting away pajamas, putting away dirty clothes, picking up any toys on the floor, etc.)
- Meals (making oatmeal, scrambling eggs, setting the table, making coffee for Daddy, washing dishes, emptying the dishwasher, etc.)
- Little Ones (helping little siblings get dressed, combing hair, finding shoes, changing diapers, playing with them, reading books to them, etc.)
- Laundry (sorting clothes, filling the washing machine, filling the dryer, folding clothes, putting clean clothes away, etc.)
- Housecleaning (wiping the toilet with a baby wipe, cleaning the bathroom counter and mirror, cleaning the bathroom floor, shaking rugs, dusting, vacuuming, putting away toys, etc.) See sample here.
- School (reading chapter books, helping younger siblings with letter sounds or simple math, drilling siblings on multiplication tables, playing with toddlers for a short time during school hours, teaching someone else a new song in their piano book, keeping the school area picked up and uncluttered, etc.)
I hope I’ve given you some ideas. Now PLAN AHEAD with some wall charts that list things YOUR children could do without your help. Practice on a good day, to see what areas could be improved. When you’re feeling sick, let the wall charts be the boss for a day. It won’t be perfect, but at least things will be better than if you hadn’t planned at all.
Other Ways to Plan Ahead:
- Meals — What will you eat on days you’re sick? Could you freeze meals? Can you teach your older children to make one or two simple meals? With what ingredients can you stock your pantry? Yesterday, my children had toast and eggs for all three meals! It wouldn’t be good if it happened everyday, but it sure didn’t hurt them this once. They were able to make it all themselves, and none of us starved.
- Babysitting — Who will watch the little ones when you really must have a nap? Yes, when you’re sick, even the TV can help. Is there a friend who is willing to watch just one or two of your children? Would someone take them to the park for an hour while you rest? You have my permission to ask someone for help (wink).
- Homeschooling — Who can be a “substitute teacher” for you? Maybe your mother lives close by, or maybe someone else has volunteered to help. BE PREPARED with a simple plan for this person, listing where supplies are kept and what a normal day in your house looks like. No, a substitute will never do things just as you would, but that’s okay! Keep your substitute lesson plans VERY simple and thank God for a chance to rest.
- Bills – Who will pay the electric bill when you’re sick? You certainly don’t want the lights turned out or checks to bounce while you’re feeling so low. What bills can be set to automatic payment? Make a list of what bills are due when, where supplies are kept, and who to contact with questions, so that someone else could help you with this task.
I hope this helps! God will give you wisdom, and you’ll be amazed at how He’ll help and comfort you while you’re not well. He knows all the details of the future. Nothing is a surprise to Him. As you prepare for the inevitability of “bad days,” ask Him to give you ideas that suit your situation. He will provide!
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul…” (Psalm 23:1-3).
P.S. Moms that are struggling with chronic fatigue might want to check out my eCourse, When You’re Too Tired.
Shirley Long says
I like your article. I am 69 and grandmother to 4. I have Adrinal Fatique and tired a lot. Being treated. It’s hard when I have a husband with heart trouble, but he helps a lot. Just wanted you to know I know how you feel when your so tired and can’t do your work properly.
God Bless you.
Anne Elliott says
Thank you, Shirley! (((hugs))) ~Anne
Hi Anne. I struggle with an auto-immune disease at times. This is a lovely encouraging post, thank you so much. You have said it all so wisely and offered much practical advice. Hope you’re feeling better soon, I was on bedrest for 2 of my pregnancies and it’s humbling indeed for an organised mom to hand it all over.
Anne, I hope you don’t mind, I’ve sent the url for this page to the Yahoo support for homeschool Moms’ with Chronic illnesses: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/encouragement4mom/
I really think the Moms there will appreciate it as I did.
I don’t mind at all! I’m sure they would all have some good advice for us as well. I hope they’ll feel free to comment.
Anne Elliott says
You know, I thought of something else today (probably because, as I said, I’m living these things this week).
Laundry. I know a mom of MANY (six of her own, and I think it’s seven by adoption, many with special health needs) who uses the following system for laundry:
She pulls the clean clothes out of the dryer and has her children sort them into little laundry baskets, one for each person. They don’t bother folding. Each person has his clean clothes, and at least they have something to wear.
I think this system would work really well when Mom is sick. I’m wishing we were using something like this now. When life is great, I’m a big fan of folded clothes. When life isn’t great, I’m just a fan of clothes period. 🙂
Thank you for this. I’ve been trying to come up with a good non-reading chart with pics for my little ones. This whole article really helps a lot!!
Practice sick days! I have a problem that pops up predictably so I can plan for meals and school but I never thought to have a practice sick day. Brilliant!