As I write this post, the Mighty Ginger (my spouse, nicknamed by a friend due to his lovely red hair and propensity for being amazing) is in bed with a fever, full body ache, sore chest, and a drippy nose. When the alarm went off this morning and I realized that this was the third time I’d woken up since rolling over and snuggling down for the night, I declared that he was not going to work and that I’d take the kids to school. Truly, I don’t think he slept much. Even the cat knew something was up, because that empathetic bundle of fur and purrs tried to snuggle up with him at 2 A.M. to make him feel better. So, I stocked up on the NyQuil and DayQuil on the way home from morning momtaxi duties, and I’ve got plans for homemade chicken soup for lunch. And, I’m currently thanking Past Veronica for having the presence of mind to get a flu shot back in November.
Now, Present Veronica needs to focus on staying healthy and keeping the rest of the Giguere clan (the Bear, the Lesser Ginger, and the Ginger Girl) flu-free. Like me, they all had their flu shots in autumn. So far, we’re all doing fine, and any grogginess can be attributed to the usual midweek grind of school and activities. We still need to be vigilant about germs, though. There’s a bowling tournament on the horizon, Spring Break in a few weeks, and lots of other little things that would be severely hampered by getting sick. And… well, a sick narrator means a hold on recording work, which means a delay in getting books out to authors.
So, to modify a phrase, how does one keep their wellness when those around them keep losing theirs?
Basic Hygiene – Fun for the Whole Family!
Since I’m mom to three someones, I’ve got the “PLEASE wash your hands” refrain down to a science. My kids are pretty good about this, and we’ve got hand soap in all of the bathrooms. We keep hand sanitizer in the car, but soap and water are the first line of defense. Other basic things like throwing away tissues after you’ve blown your nose (teenagers!) and keeping your hands away from your mouth get extra reminders, too.
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
Drinking plenty of water is one of those easy to say, hard to do kind of habits, especially if you’re moving around a lot during the day or tend to get sucked into your work for hours at a time. Everyone at our house has their own water bottle, plus I have a big one that I fill up at the start of a recording day. If I have two cups of coffee, the third cup doesn’t happen until after I’ve had at least 20 oz of water. And after that third cup? Nothing but water until dinner. Staying hydrated solves so many issues and helps your body flush out germs, so here’s your reminder… go get a glass of water.
Doorknobs and Bedsheets
It’s impossible to expect my house to be spotless, but bedrooms get a little extra attention when someone is sick. First, they get a clean set of bedsheets, with the dirty ones going straight into the washer. Clean sheets always feel cozy when you’ve got to rest, but it’s also nice to have a clean set waiting for when you’re finished snoozing away the sick. Second, door handles get a quick wipe-down with a disinfectant cloth. At the very least, it cuts down on the amount of germs being transferred from person to person in the house. If someone is sick enough to forcefully evacuate semi-liquid material, the bathroom gets a thorough wipe-down, and items are cleared to allow for a direct path from bedroom to bathroom. And when all is finished and people are feeling better? Another quick clean to ensure that the sickness stops with that person and doesn’t start on someone else.
Hold Thy Bedtime Sacred
The fact that my two younger children still have an 8:00 P.M. bedtime during the school week astounds some people. Not only does it ensure that they’ll get 8-9 hours of sleep before waking up early for school, but it creates a boundary for me-time in the evening when I can relax and unwind. In a house full of sick people, getting enough sleep is one of the first lines of defense against getting sick myself. For a mom who will likely be up and down over the course of a night to tend to an ill kid or spouse, getting to bed a little earlier can mean the difference between a modest amount of rest and the bleary-eyed stumble through the next day.
Make Time to Relax
Caring for others can take a toll, so I make sure that I get some time alone to unwind before jumping back into the fray. Relaxing means different things to different people. Maybe it’s a walk while listening to a good audiobook, or maybe it’s a cup of coffee and a phone call to a friend. Maybe it’s curling up and playing a few levels of Candy Crush or catching some Pokemon. Whatever it means to you, it’s important to set aside that time for yourself so that you don’t run yourself ragged. Psychological and emotional exhaustion can lead to physical exhaustion, which lowers your resistance to the ick that’s circulating around you. Self-care isn’t a catch phrase, it’s a necessity.
And finally… if you start having symptoms of flu, strep throat, or another flavor of ick that your darling friends and family have managed to share with you despite your best efforts, take care of yourself. I’m not a doctor, just someone’s mom who has seen her fair share of the pharmacy these past few days, so seek professional care for advice meant for your personal medical situation.