Parental Sick Leave

I’ve been a bit under the weather with a headache for the last day and a half, which is mercifully clearing up now. It isn’t an uncommon occurrence – I’ve always been a bit of a sick parrot. I had more absences from school than the kids in the bad crowd who liked to play truant.

That poses a bit of a problem now I’m a mother though. My kid’s don’t stop being dependent on me; there are still meals needing prepared (although I’m having a very welcome break from cooking the evening meal at the moment) there is still laundry being created and crumbs and mess being spread around.



I have an awesome support network. I live in the area I grew up, and my sisters and sister-in-laws are within shouting distance (quite literally if the wind is blowing in the right direction). And my mother is always swift to come when I really need her. But for mild illnesses, such as I’ve had the last few days, I turn to my reliable (but guilt inducing) babysitter: vidoes.

I try to use them as a reward – so my kids have to do a bit of tidying to get them – which helps keeps some of the mountains of mess we create under control.

We’re a bit picky about what we let our children watch; perennial favourites around here are Fireman Sam, Postman Pat and Shaun the Sheep. I sometimes put on a nature documentary, but I like to watch those with them and help explain as we go: not so friendly for my pounding head.

Inviting all the children into my bed with a few stories they’ve picked out is another pleasant way to spend an hour or two.

But what to do with the chores that stack and stack?

If I’m able to ‘potter’ then I use a software designing paradigm from my former life as a coder; something I often fall back on when I’m overwhelmed. MoSCoW. Well, except I don’t. The acronym stands for Must, Should, Could, Would. When I’m ill I’ll just do the first two. I’ll think of all the jobs that I absolutely have to do to keep my house in vaguely smooth working order and put them under a ‘must’ heading. Jobs that are less urgent but really should have my attention are for the ‘should’ heading. ‘Could’ is for things that would be nice if I get a chance. ‘Would’ is for things that I have no plans to get round to at all and are for another day. But as I said – I only think of the Musts and Shoulds when I’m ill.

In periods when I’m feeling able then I can shuffle about and do a few – sweep under my table, put away the clean laundry, empty my dishwasher.

Of course it leaves a backlog for when I’m well – but I’ve not figured out a way to avoid that yet. It is my hope that someday I’ll be so on top of my house that these bouts of illness will barely make a dent in my ongoing house work list. I can dream…


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