…One of those people quick to criticise before fully understanding. I was a young woman without kids who got my knickers in a knot when some people in my workplace were always taking sick days. These people had young children, and young children tend to get sick, often. But back then, I had absolutely no idea about young kids and sickness and with my ignorance, I failed to show any empathy. Now, as a mum who has experienced my fair share of family illness this winter, I am ashamed of that younger me, I want to take back my critical thoughts one thousand times over.
Kids are germ magnets
I’ve learnt that no matter how healthy and hygienic a family can be, kids are quite simply, germ magnets. I never realised how susceptible to illness a young child can be in the first year of day care nor how much sickness can be shared around at school. I didn’t realise that older kids can be carriers of illness and not get it themselves yet pass it onto their younger sibling.
I’ve spoken with many other parents about our family’s plight of having at least one person sick in our house each week since May and as I have, it has become more apparent to me that this ‘kids always being sick’ thing is normal; it happens to everyone. If it hasn’t happened to you well, count your lucky stars.
I needed a good talking to
My younger self, well, she needed a good talking to, she needed to be pulled back into line. Perhaps a reality check of some sort. She never knew how tough parenting is with sick kids, the never ending days, the sleepless nights, the snot, the vomit, the diarrhoea …and then, after all of that, having to face work the next day. Oh, and how hard it is to parent a sick child when you’re sick yourself, that’s just next level pain she had no clue about.
Nor did the younger me have a clue about the stress involved when you’re self-employed, work from home and have to juggle sick kids. There’s no such thing as sick leave, if you don’t do the work, you don’t get paid. Lots of catch up is usually involved and it’s strenuous.
I am lucky
But with the challenges I face juggling sick kids and self-employment, I admit, I am lucky. My work situation is somewhat flexible; I don’t have to call my boss to say I will not be in again, for the third day in a row. I don’t face the situation of having used up all of my sick days wondering what on earth I’m going to do if my children are sick again. I don’t have to try and figure out who is going to look after my sick kids because I have to go to work – I work from home and can get away with leaving them on the couch watching TV or nursing my baby daughter on my lap.
As I reflect on the old me and the new me, one thing is true – I understand the importance of empathy when it comes to parenting. It is so important to put yourself in other people’s shoes before making a judgement, we are all in this parenting gig together and we need to be because raising children is one of the toughest jobs around.
Have your views on various topics changed since becoming a parent? Tell me I’m not the only horrible person who used to be critical when I was young and child free?
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