Most WAHMs have a game plan in place just in case the kids get sick, but few have any idea how to stay productive when they themselves are sick. With an alarming flu season on the approach, it's imperative to plan ahead, not only for your kids' sick days, but for yours as well.
Don't Get Sick
Sounds simple, right? Just don't get sick in the first place. WAHMs are always spread out too thin and usually sacrifice the simple things that can lead to better health. Eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough rest (at least 6-7 hours per night). Seasonal flu vaccines are available at grocery stores and pharmacies; get one while you are out running errands. Wash your hands frequently, and keep your hands away from your eyes, ears, and nose. These simple steps can help you on the road to better health.
Ask for Help
Don't be afraid to ask for help. Perhaps a friend or family member could take the kids to school, or watch them for a few hours while you recover. Locate a drop-in daycare service in your community for those emergency situations when you can't find a sitter to help.
If you have help with the kids, see how you can get help with your job. Could someone else run errands or answer the phone for you? Can you delegate part of a project to an assistant? Take a moment to assess your job for the next three days, and then prioritize what must be done. Once you know your priorities, you can focus your limited energy on the important stuff and get help with the rest--or simply let it go until you recover.
Let's define "staying productive" when sick. Staying productive does not mean you get a ton of stuff finished while running a fever or running to the bathroom. Staying productive does not mean working until you pass out. Cut yourself some slack! Staying productive means you set one feasible goal to accomplish and then do what you can to make that goal. For example, you might see what you can do while you rest in bed. You could make a few important phone calls or send a few emails. You could work on simple tasks like proofreading or paperwork. The main thing to keep in mind is to keep it simple and small.
Illnesses can linger if you fight them too hard, so don't work yourself into exhaustion. Sometimes it's actually good to call in sick or give yourself a sick day. If you spend the whole day resting, you may actually feel better sooner than if you work through an illness. Or give yourself a deadline, telling yourself that once your husband gets home, you'll take a nap. A little rest and recuperation might, in the end, make you much more productive than if you work while really sick.
Before the official kick-off of flu season, spend a moment planning for your own sick days as well as your kids' sick days. With a little foresight and good sense, you can stay productive even when you are sick.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.