|Dress up with photos after.
I think of myself as a wife and mother first. My Crohn’s Disease and Ileostomy come second. I try not to let my Crohn’s define me or get in my way. However, there are days when flares accompanied with fatigue, joint pain, inability to eat, and gut pain make my job as wife and mother trickier.
Today is one of those days. I had a dental complication where a fractured wisdom tooth lead to a crown, then ended up needing a root canal, and then got infected. So I have pain and infection (needing antibiotics and pain meds) which lead to an inability to eat and an ensuing Crohn’s flare. Ick.
I am a stay at home mom to a six year old and a three year old. My favorite job in the world is the enrichment of my children. My kids still need me even when I feel like crap. During the tough days I condense my life down to the basics. I focus on feeding, entertaining/nurturing, and maintaining my kids.
First off let me say that PAPER PLATES ARE OKAY. There are perfectly healthy moms out there who would love a day off from dishes. I am here to dispel the shame of using picnic ware. Disposable plates are not just for BBQs, play dates, and picnics. It is certainly more than okay to use paper plates when you are not well.
Now to the food: When I am feeling well I make extras of my family’s favorites and store them in the freezer for days when I am not up to making dinner. (Sort of like a rainy day fund but with food.) Tonight I pulled out baked spaghetti to warm in the oven for our family. If this is not your style, there are many family sized dinners in the freezer section of your local grocery store that taste almost home made. We like the Stouffer’s lasagna. Add a salad and a baguette and you are set. I also love my crock pot. This is my favorite kitchen tool. Put a roast in the crock along with some scrubbed potatoes, carrots, and seasonings. Set the dial and leave it alone. Later that day dinner is done with very little work from you. Chili, chicken enchiladas, soups and more are all possible in a crock pot.
When it comes to snacks and lunches, simple is best. My six year old loves to help. I let her make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches ~ or sometimes we love hummus sandwiches, while I pour the milk and grab the sliced veggies. We also enjoy pocket bread with cheese and tomato sauce zapped in the microwave to taste like pizza pockets. My three year old is great at clearing away the paper plates. Everyone can help.
Entertaining/nurturing my kids is fun even when I am running on fumes. I turn the kid music on to set the mood. Simple is best here as well, puzzles, Legos, and play doh are all fun activities that involve lots of nurturing one on one time but do not include jumping on mom. More things my kids love to do are play dress up then pose for photos, story day, and blanket forts.
Sometimes mama needs a few minutes alone in the bathroom. This is when I drag out the ‘Fun Box’. I get the large size zip bags and put a fun activity in each one. Last time my three year old used the one with the orange play doh and the plastic Army men. He created hills and caves for the army guys to explore. My six year old liked the idea of play doh and used the sea foam green play doh with the plastic starfish and sea horses to make a sea scape. I was done with my business before they were finished and I patted myself on the back for a job well done.
Maintaining kids sometimes requires trickiness er cleverness. I admit to doing ‘The Fastest Brush in the West’ to get small mouths brushed and clean lickety split. And I admit to telling them if they get their pajamas on super fast then they will get two stories before bed. (I always read them two stories anyway) It cuts down on the “Aw mom!” and focuses in on the need for speed to earn the cool ‘extra’ story.
Now on to husband (or spouse/partner) help: I am the most lucky girl in the entire world when it comes to getting help. When my husband is home he reliably pitches in with the day to day requirements of a home with children. He puts primary time into our kids who adore him. He also helps by doing laundry, vacuuming the carpet, taking garbage to the street, and he even does the dishes! He is amazing. Sure, he does it a little differently than I do. But it gets done, and he does it well. Getting help from my spouse is like him reaffirming that he is in this with me. He understands that there are some days when I need just a little more help. He lets me sit down at the end of the day and take a break. I certainly married a gentleman.
Most of all: IT IS OKAY IF YOUR HOME IS NOT PERFECT. In fact, on days when you are not at your best your home will likely be super messy. Surface damage everywhere. Toys scattered on the floor, laundry hanging half out of the laundry basket, and counter tops that would make Martha Stewart cringe.
Get the rest you need so you can heal. The house work will wait for you.
Also know your kids are super smart. They see you are not feeling well. They also see that you are trying your very best. Where appropriate, let them help. They can tidy their toys, put away puzzles/activities before moving on to the next one, and clear their plates away.
Accept lots of hugs and moist little kid kisses and tell them it makes you feel better. Because it does.