Survival Mode–Cold and Flu Season

All families have seasons when they’re surviving rather than thriving. Sometimes it’s because of something tragic, but let’s not go there today.

Today let’s talk about the everyday life kind of things that kick us into survival mode: weekends when Mom shivers and shakes on the couch. Nights when Daddy brings the toddler to the guest bed with him because that’s the only way to get her to stop crying and coughing, and it takes the tot four hours to fall back to sleep. Afternoons when the five-month-old worries her parents with her raspy cough. Mornings when the two-year-old screams and cries, “Go, Mommy! Go! I don’t want to see you! Daddy! Dada? Daddy! I. WANT. MY. DADDY!” But Daddy’s not there because he goes to work so that Mommy can be there on days when her kids wake up tired and sick and want nothing more than their mommy… daddy?


Yep, the worst cold ever has hit our family, and we’re simply trying to survive. What does that look like for us?

1.) We put relationships ahead of tasks. Actually, “relationships over tasks” is a family motto. But it becomes even more important when we’re sick. The laundry baskets are overflowing. The counter has crumbs. The house is filled with post-holiday, post-vacation chaos. And a poopy pair of the baby’s pajamas may have been thrown on the hallway floor this morning. (Both girls were crying! My head was about to explode!) But that’s okay. Because giving myself permission to ignore those things helped me to feel calm when I picked my screaming toddler up out of bed and rocked and held her (which, unfortunately, did not stop the screaming. I told you it was bad around here.)

2) We accept help. I was about to turn to freezer food when my parents offered to give us a meal for the second time in one day. And then the next day I texted them to ask them to take the toddler for a few hours so we could rest. Shameless or smart? You decide.

3) We avoid our (young) friends. As desperately as I’d like to have the distraction of my toddler’s friends, it’s so not cool to expose them to our nastiness. Granted, the girls haven’t had a fever (yet?!), but from the first day of symptoms, we avoided places with little people–like church and play dates with friends–until we’re officially on the mend.

4) We make exceptions. From the moment she opened her eyes this morning, the toddler cried. And screamed. And wailed. After thirty tortuous minutes, she asked to go back to bed with her “bobby” (her word for pacifier). Are we trying to lose the paci for good? Yep. Has it been almost a year since she’s had a morning nap? Yep. Is today a day for exceptions? Yep.

5) We try natural remedies. Dang it, people! I want some NyQuil! I’m so sick of the pressure and congestion. But I’m nursing, and I can’t take those kinds of drugs. And, ultimately, that’s okay, because I’m certain that nursing has protected the baby from the worst of the cold. And really, this cold is likely caused by a virus and what can you do for a virus? Treat the symptoms. So the toddler gets warm water with honey and lemon juice. (Does it help the cough? Maybe?) I’ve tried a heating pad, a bag of frozen peas on my forehead, vapor rub (with caution since it’s not approved for babies and the baby is on my chest when she eats), nasal spray, Breathe Right strips, and even tylenol and ibuprofen. I didn’t need any medicine for my delivery or postpartum recovery, but the pressure is too much! What else would you recommend?

6) We choose convenience. While I believe good nutrition helps keep us all healthy, I just had a protein bar and a can of diet coke for breakfast. True story. The toddler will probably get a frozen waffle (which is, honestly, not that unusual). For lunch, we’ll do leftovers–cut up cantaloupe, yogurt, oatmeal (yes, we have leftover oatmeal.). Anything somewhat healthy that we can pull out of the fridge or freezer. Desperate times, people, desperate times.

7) We look on the bright side. (And use clichés! Clichés are allowed in survival mode.) The toddler’s extra nap gave me extra play time with the baby and a free moment to take care of those poopy pajamas. And since both girls were asleep this morning, I had time for some much-needed, therapeutic blogging.

8) We pray. Am I proud of the fact that I don’t pray as much when I’m healthy as I do when our family is sick? Absolutely not. But there’s nothing  like sickness and weakness to remind me of my need for God.

I wanted to come up with a nice, even list of ten tips But that’s just not going to happen. Because we’re in survival mode. But, hey! The toddler is awake after her morning nap, and SHE’S HAPPY! Are we on the mend? Let’s hope!

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