What I’ve Learned from Viruses


A mother taking her son's temperature.Since returning to work four months ago, life has been hectic and crazy. Since my husband works long hours and travels often, morning and evening routines usually fall on me. I get two young children up, dressed, fed, and out of the house by 7:45 a.m. On nice days, we go to the park after work and school, and I cook a homemade meal almost every night, bathe, read, and have my kids in bed by 7:30 p.m.

Then comes the half-hour when my son needs to go potty, get a glass of water, or tell me something. By 8:00 p.m., I’ve started cleaning the kitchen, making lunches for the next day, and prepping for the next night’s dinner. I usually sit down by 9:00 p.m. and am in bed by 10:15 p.m. My mornings, days, and nights are extremely scripted and planned. I have everything prepared for each minute detail.

Then, the last two weeks happen, and I’m thrown for a complete loop. In the past two weeks, both of my children have been sick.  

My daughter was knocked down by a virus, an ear infection, and a new tooth. In ten days, we visited the doctor five times. My poor baby had examinations, blood drawn, X-rays taken, and more. Yesterday, my son all of a sudden contracted a stomach bug while my daughter broke out in a full-body rash.

Between them, they’ve missed five days of daycare in two weeks. I had to go to work late, leave early, and miss several days. We had a 6:15 p.m. doctor appointment, which fell right in the middle of our bedtime routine, and two days later, we were at the doctor for four hours. I’m fortunate to have family within an hour’s drive and a husband who stayed home for two days, so I only had to miss two days of work.

These experiences, as unwelcome as they have been, have taught me to be more flexible.  

When we had the late appointment, we went out for pizza instead of having a nutritious, home-cooked meal. And guess what? Everyone survived! On day one of my son’s stomach bugs, all he ate were bananas, and a few sips of soup, and all he drank was Pedialite. Once again, he survived!

My daughter barely ate the first few days of her being sick, and while it terrified me that she might become dehydrated, I let my instincts take over and just nursed on demand as if she was a newborn again. She is so tiny already I was afraid she would lose too much weight, but she is back to eating normally.

My children are both reaching some new milestones. My son is entering preschool soon, and I need to let go and realize that he is his own person and that one bad meal or watching TV all day when sick is okay. My daughter will be a year old in only a month, and she is nowhere near ready to move to a sippy cup. This would have derailed me with my son, but I’m taking it in stride.

So, while I can’t pretend that I’m going to give up my control and schedules, at least these past two weeks of illnesses have taught me that a few days of change and things not going as planned are not going to hinder our lives.


  1. YUP!!! Welcome to the flexible Mom club! It does get easier as the kids get older but those days absolutely happen and are totally unpredictable. You are also teaching your kids that although routines and healthy meals are really important, that it’s also important (and good) some nights to say “screw it” and order pizza.

  2. I haven’t had fever free household in two weeks and I’m just beyond stressed because there’s so much to do & I can’t get to it. Sending health vibes!!


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