We had just got over the trauma of a hospital stay with three and a half year old who had a virus and a cough and suddenly developed breathing problems, when seventeen month old got chicken pox!
All’s well – three year old is recoverered although we are being referred for an asthma assessment. Seventeen month old has also perked up although the night time itching is still driving her crazy! Poor thing. Chicken pox is some virus isn’t it? The flu like symptoms she got before the spots came out were terrible! She was so out of sorts and didn’t sleep hardly a winky for two nights.
At least we’re getting it out of the way. Did you know that they vaccinate against chicken pox in the US and Asutralia as part of the childhood immunisation programme? Whereas in the UK it’s not thought to be cost effective, unless you’re considered to be in an at risk group (pregnant women, those with impaired immune systems).
This is where I have a marginal whinge as the nature of chicken pox means your child can’t go to nursery or school (or actually anywhere vaguely interesting) until they are no longer contagious, which is usually around five days after the spots appear.
Five whole days.
Now is it me or does this mean a serious interruption to productivity in the workplace? As it happens, I have a VERY kind family who looked after my children for a number of days while I went to work, but I still had to take two days off.
Anyway, I’m sure a nice team somewhere have the cost benefit analysis all worked out (I’m sure they do!). It’s been a tough couple of weeks – and now it’s over (hopefully!) I ask myself “how did we get through it?” Here are a few ideas on how to keep same during periods of seemingly never ending illness in your children.
- Read parenting blogs. Great for indoor activity ideas. One thing about chicken pox is that you actually can’t go anywhere, unless you want to spread the disease around every street corner. My favourite blogs for ideas are Ghostwriter Mummy and Casa Costello, the latter being great for cooking with kids.
- Take up offers from kind friends. I’m lucky enough to have some very lovely friends, who also happen to have children who have alrady had the pox. Cue some fun playdates which took the edge off going stir crazy.
- Look after yourself. This is difficult when you’re so concerned about your children. I was on pins for the first week after my three year old returned from hospital, putting a baby monitor back in her room inches from her face so I could hear her breathing. It’s hard to remember to look after yourself, but if you don’t and you become ill or run down, how can you be effective in being there for your kids? I just made sure I kept eating regular meals and getting sleep where I could (chocolate was also involved!).
- Have a word with yourself. Cooped up children vs not losing your temper. Not easy! Mentally prepare yourself for the temper tantrums and general demands on yourself that this period will bring. But it’s not forever.
- Beware of the ultimate power freak-doctors receptionists. Might seem a bit harsh, but picture the scene: you’re tired and you miss the ‘timeslot’ for requesting a callback from the GP by five minutes. The unfriendly ‘gatekeeper to all knowledge’ that is the receptionist won’t budge. You lose your temper big time and put the phone down, fuming for hours afterwards and writing about it on Facebook. Erm – don’t do this. Try to anticipate the feelings a conversation with this strange being will bring forth and devise manipulative ways to get the call back you desire (e.g. bursting into tears, , threatening to complain, begging – it’s only this once, after all).
- Try and sleep when you can. Stop! Before you switch off because I’ve dared to say the thing that all midwives tell you after your baby is born, and which we promptly all ignore – where preschool illness is concerned this is a must. And possible – just about! In fact what I really mean is just go to bed as soon as they’re in bed. Have your tea early rather than wait for your partner to return home from work. Hop into bed at 7:30pm – try and get a few hours on before they wake itching, coughing, or wanting a cuddle.
…and on a practical level:
- ViraSoothe Gel. Wonderful stuff – really halts the itching of chicken pox. A friend kindly recommended this to us and it really helped.
How have you found dealing with childhood illness? I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback.