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Your Kid Can Only Be As Healthy As Your Whole Family Is
Some of my friends are surprised I’m not looking for a job, but I just couldn’t make it work with my kid getting sick all the time. There were months where she spent more days sick at home than at her daycare. Whenever this happened I was either sick myself too, or simply too exhausted and completely unable to think. I still tried to work somehow, or at least catch up a little bit, which made us both miserable and incredibly stressed.
Oddly enough, she’s much healthier now than she was before. This is only her 3rd infection in the last 2.5 months. This might still sound like a lot, but we’re in flu season now - she’d get sick twice as often during the hot summer months. This time she managed to avoid the Christmas flu that knocked down most of our friends, the covid wave that made rounds in our daycare in early January, and some other random bug her friend developed soon after visiting us. She survived Christmas, New Years and her birthday without catching a cold even once. Compared with the previous months, it’s almost a miracle.
Even when she does get sick, it affects her much less than it used to. Last year there were whole weeks she’d spent in bed with heavy fever. Now she might develop a cough and a runny nose and still be full of energy most of the time. The last time she had a fever, it was gone after just one day or two.
I don’t think this is a coincidence. Even before I had a kid, I usually developed illness in times of stress. I could push myself through a crunchtime on adrenaline and willpower alone, but unless I gave myself some time to rest and recover, my body would ask for it as soon as it had a chance. I often crashed right after coming back home from intense work trips that interrupted my sleep schedule. Even our own wedding turned out to be so intense that I immediately fell sick as soon as it was over.
Now I do have the space to rest and recover, more than at any other time in my life. I also have the space to help my daughter rest. When she needs to sleep in, I can let her sleep without worrying if she’ll make it to the daycare on time. When she’s feeling off, I can cancel all our plans and make her favorite soup without worrying how this will affect my professional life. Everyone knows blows and kisses are the most effective painkiller, but the same is also true about a homemade soup being the best cure for common cold. It’s the loving care and attention put into making it that matters the most.
My husband says the quality of our life improved a lot since I quit my last job. There’s much more slack in our schedule that we can use to take care of emergencies. I have the space to deal with them calmly as they arise so that they don’t blow up into much more serious troubles. I’m visibly less stressed, which also means I have more capacity to deal with everyone else’s problems so the rest of my family is visibly less stressed too. How much of my daughter’s health troubles was primarily due to stress and not feeling taken care of? It’s still too early to tell, but I suspect that at least some of it.
I know I’m incredibly lucky to be able to afford this kind of slack. Many of my working mom friends can’t really make a choice like this, and I have nothing but admiration for how they’re wrangling it all. But I can definitely see that my whole family is healthier since I have the time to take care of their needs, and somehow thanks to this my child seems to be healthier too.
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