Monday, 11 April 2016

Touch Me I'm Sick - 11 Productivity Tips When Caring for a Sick Child

Sometimes we have those weeks when we feel like the hamster on the wheel, no matter how hard we're running, we don't make any progress.  This is often how I feel whenever the kids are sick, and everyone involved is desperate to get work done, provide all the necessary TLC for the sick child (overcompensate with the well child who's being shipped off to school), and try to fend off total and complete exhaustion themselves (all the while fending off the creeping feeling that the illness may hit them next).

Last week Molly had a low grade fever that just wouldn't quit, and would randomly spike, often in the middle of the night, punctuated by fever-grade nightmares.  Several days at home with mandatory rest there was no improvement.  Thankfully,because of a fast acting antibiotic, she's now well on the road to recovery and will be returning to school.

Another work distraction (Throwback photo of my kitty cat Panny)

As we muddled through the week I'd often think and stress about work that was getting done, and work that was not.  As this week approaches I know that no one is completely caught up on work, chores, or sleep, but we're getting there, at a snail's pace.  As many people now have the ability to telecommute it can be easier to work from home and get a lot done, however this can change when you factor a sick toddler into the equation.

Here's how to be your most productive self while tending to your sick child

1.Set a realistic list of prioritiesDon't get too ambitious, or you're going to be disappointed.   Knock items off your list with the most important tasks tackled first, anything additional accomplished is gravy.  You will lose some time, but it's more important to be there for your kids!

2. Set your alarm earlier
By getting up just half an hour earlier you can check and clear any urgent email and tackle projects that require maximum levels of concentration without interruption.

3. Hit their snooze button
This is exponentially more difficult when you have multiple children and family members to jockey to school and work, but by keeping the house quiet a little longer you can let your sick child sleep in which should lead to faster recovery, and also hopefully more work accomplished for you, so win-win.

4. Lighten up on the TV rule
Our weekday TV rule is usually 30 minutes to an hour maximum, dependant on weather, extracurricular activities and whether or not it's bath night.  When I'm sick I want to binge watch some comfort TV and movies, why shouldn't I extend the same luxury to my kids?  This allows for an extra hour or two of day time work accomplished.

5. Break out quiet activities
A new colouring book, some play dough, or Lego are great, fairly quiet activities that can allow you to review spreadsheets, reports, or catch up on industry related reading.

6.Encourage them to nap
By taking a break and unplugging yourself you can pull out a number of stops that will encourage your child to get a little afternoon shut-eye, even if they're usually beyond naps.  Curling up with your child, a blanket, some light music, and some favourite stories can put them to sleep.  It's also a great way to connect and help them feel taken care of and pampered.

7. Take shifts
If you're lucky enough to have multiple caregivers in your house it's time to play a little bit of tag.  Have one person go into work early, so they can relieve the parent who has taken a personal day or are working from home.  Same can apply to after work, when one parent returns home, have the other lock themselves away for an hour or two for some dedicated, uninterrupted work time.  Take shifts for middle of the night sleep interruptions too, even if it means that someone ends up sleeping on the couch for the night.

8. Bring in someone from the outside
If your child has a common cold, an ear infection, is recovering from surgery, or has something that isn't easily communicable to others you may want to call in outside help to give you an hour or two break.  Get a babysitter or call in a favour from a friend or the grandparents and go to a local cafe, or tuck yourself away for some conference calls, or face-to-face meetings.

9. Burn the midnight oil, but just a little
An extra half hour or hour post-kid bed time can make a world of difference, just remember not to push too hard.  You'll need some time to unwind yourself, whether if it's going for a run, watching a favourite TV show or playing a game of cards with your spouse.  A break for you will make you more productive in the long run, as will a decent night sleep (when possible).

10. Don't be afraid to postpone and delegate
Groceries still need to get done, so order online.  Meeting at the other end of the city, figure out if it would be okay to postpone by a few days, and then do so, but with giving plenty of notice.  The ironing can wait a few days, it will be okay.

11. Remember everything will take longer than expected
Work will take longer than expected, as will appointments at the doctors office or time at the pharmacy picking up a prescription.  Odds are, if your life is anything like ours, you're probably going way too fast anyway.  Take the time to breathe and enjoy the fact that your little one asked you to crawl into bed with them and stroke their hair, because before you know it, they'll be better and you'll be back to the grind as usual.

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