Sussex columnist: There's no time for sick days when you're a parent

The more regular readers among you may have noticed I wasn’t here last week (but if you didn’t I won’t hold it against you – life is busy, I get it).
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The reason for my absence was that I was ill. And I know what caused it. It was telling my husband that I thought all the vitamin supplements I have been religiously taking were working. I said that about a week before I started to feel absolutely terrible. Sod’s law at work, if ever that was a prime example of it.

So, I was forced to take a little bit of time off work as I felt pretty poorly.

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If you're imagining me resting up at home, catching up on Netflix boxsets while horizontal on the sofa, you are 100 per cent wrong.

Enjoying the beach after a week of being poorly was just the lift we all needed. Picture: Katherine HMEnjoying the beach after a week of being poorly was just the lift we all needed. Picture: Katherine HM
Enjoying the beach after a week of being poorly was just the lift we all needed. Picture: Katherine HM

No, that wasn’t the way my sick time was spent, because my children were also ill and so were off school and at home with me.

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As such, my ‘sick days’ were actually spent providing a luxury butler service to a sickly young duo.

What this meant, in reality, was that a very exhausted and achy mummy hobbled around the house catering to their every whim.

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Because, as it turns out, poorly children operate on their own individual schedules.

Never mind that mummy can barely stand, they will be hungry on their own time – and it won’t be at the same time as their sibling.

One child had breakfast, the other ‘wasn’t hungry’. That was until the first child had finished their granola, at which point the second child was ravenous for something completely different.

Second petit dejeuner served, and child number-one needed a snack. A little while later, so did child two.

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And then there was the endless dispensing of Calpol and temperature checks that had me wondering if a career in pharmacy beckoned.

Every time I attempted to sit down, it lasted about ten minutes before I had to heave my sorry self back up again.

It wasn’t their fault, they were feeling rotten, too. And I love to be there to care for them. Next time, though, it would just be nice if I wasn’t doing it while I was 38.5 degrees and getting through four boxes of tissues per day.

When I was a kid, my mum was so good at sick days. I wouldn’t have to move a muscle. Drinks would be brought to my ‘sick bed’ (the sofa) covered with cling film and with a straw popped in the top, so I could enjoy them while reclined and without spilling them down me.

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My favourite foods would be provided on tap (orange Lucozade, Heinz beans and mini pork sausages on toast, and Jaffa Cakes) and the remote was under my control all day long.

While I’d be lying if I said I didn’t long for the days of being cared for by my mum as I sweated it out while being in charge of the house last week, it was nice to know I was now providing the same service for my children.

And as for my husband, he got ill as we started to recover. Of course he did.

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Whereas I still managed to do 5,000 steps on one of the days I was supposedly at home ‘resting’, he got to lay on our bed and chill out with a movie.

If I sound bitter, I don’t mean to. I didn’t want any of us to be ill. But I am a tiny bit jealous that he got to watch what he wanted and recuperate alone, while I had to watch a lot of episodes of Bread Barbershop.

​When we finally felt human enough to venture into the outside world again, I took the children to the seafront for a walk and a play in the Waterwise playground. Afterwards, they played on the beach together.

In and amongst all the squabbling and day-to-day sibling rivalry, it can sometimes feel like your children don’t get on. And then you capture a candid snap like the one I did of them innocently holding hands and all is right with the world again.

After a tough week, seeing them happy and healthy again was just the lift my spirits needed.