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Can you believe it’s been four years since the first hints of what would become the COVID pandemic? To me it feels like yesterday that we watched the world slowly shutting down before our eyes in a nightmarish scenario straight out of a science-fiction novel.
Like most people, I shudder a little when I think back to the time of lockdowns and “sheltering in place.” I don’t need to remind you how grueling it was, especially if you had young children (I had three under age five at the time).
But I’m a big believer that everything hard I’ve gone through in life taught me some kind of lesson I want to remember. As I tell my kids, “Almost everything is either a good time or a good story”—that is, the worse an experience I have while something is happening, the more epic and memorable a story it becomes to tell later.
Déjà vu, alas
In that spirit, I found myself applying some lessons from lockdown to this winter season when a nasty stomach bug walloped my family the week after Christmas. As my husband and I took turns caring for our sick kids while feeling wretched ourselves, and the misery dragged on day after day, upending all sense of normalcy, I found myself thinking at one point, “Will I ever feel happy again?!”
Suddenly I remembered feeling that same way during the pandemic, and as I made that connection, I knew we could get through this challenging time just like we did the lockdowns. Here are three things I learned from the pandemic that can apply to whatever tough time you’re facing right now … especially if you happen to be under the weather with young kids at home.
Don’t feel one bit guilty about survival mode
The first day that my husband and I started to get sick, I tried to soldier on as normal, with chores and routines firmly in place … and ended up feeling worse and worse as I wouldn’t let myself stop to rest. Thankfully my husband saw sense and convinced me to let the kids watch movies all day and eat easy snacks so we could all rest.
Why was I so resistant to taking a needed break? I don’t know why I’m like this, honestly, but I can’t imagine I’m the only one. So my first lesson to remember was that it’s OK to cut myself some major slack and go into total survival mode in some seasons.
Do what you have to do to get through this tough time, whether you’re dealing with illness in the family, morning sickness, or any other challenges. These seasons are exactly why shortcuts and easy options were invented, so go ahead and make things as simple for yourself as you can.
Follow practical health strategies
When I was a new mom, I remember feeling so uncertain and anxious the first few times my kids got sick. It’s really not at all obvious how to handle sick kids if you don’t have any medical background. I appreciated reading this article about common-sense secrets to caring for sick children at home.
During the lockdowns, many of us suddenly found ourselves very interested in medical advice; similarly, I’ve found it really helpful to look up practical and up-to-date strategies for dealing with whatever illness my family is facing.
Help your kids (and yourself!) stay hydrated and get plenty of rest, and try to get some fresh air if possible. Keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms like rapid breathing or signs of dehydration. And of course, as always, check with your doctor if you’re concerned.
Know that things will get back to normal and this hardship will feel like a blip on the radar
At one point when we were in the depths of the stomach bug from hell, I felt so miserable that it seemed the yuck would never come to an end. I realized these major departures from normalcy really do a number on my mental health.
My most important lesson from the lockdown? Don’t let it get inside your head.
However hard this current season is, it is temporary. It will come to an end. Soon you will be back in business and it will feel like all of this never even happened.
It’s natural to feel low and dispirited when you’re sick, but I felt better when I thought about how I had gone through hard things before and could do it again.
When I had the presence of mind to do so, I also tried to offer up the sickness for special intentions of friends and loved ones. In this way, even these rough patches can be a gift we offer to God and can help those we love.
If any of this sounds familiar, hang in there, friend. It really is the absolute pits, and you’re not alone in that. Hopefully you can sneak in a nap today while the baby is napping and the kids watch TV … good luck!