Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, it’s a fact of life that moms don’t get sick days. Even with a supportive partner and a helpful “village,” most moms don’t get the rest they need when they are unwell.
Instead, when moms get sick, they slog through their days caring for children, household tasks, and any outside work they have just as they would any other day.
Even if a mom dares to take a moment for herself and lie on the couch or have a hot cup of tea, a child will likely beckon for something the second she relaxes into her seat.
It’s probably the reason morning (ahem, all day) sickness exists during pregnancy—it’s just there to prepare you for all the times you’ll have to vomit into a bag while running errands as a mom.
Is it like this for every mother? No. Of course, there are some who have partners with super flexible jobs who can easily take off work or who work at home, or a nanny, babysitter or another secondary caregiver who can be called on a moment’s notice. And there’s nothing wrong with that—we need that type of backup for our health and sanity.
But, for many moms, business as usual is the name of the game when they’re under the weather.
There are several reasons moms deserve to take a real sick day when they need it though, even if momming doesn’t come with any actual fringe benefits. To name a few of those reasons:
Moms are human
HELLO. We might forget this sometimes, but mothers are not actually superhuman beings who can toil endlessly without pause. Sometimes you have to push STOP no matter how loudly the world around you beckons.
Everyone else in your family takes one
By now, we’re all familiar with the idea of the man cold. Whether or not the guy in your life actually lives up to this stereotype when he’s sick, it’s clear that, generally, dads are OK with spending some extra time in bed when they’re under the weather.
Same goes for kids. Sure, your kids don’t carry the weight and responsibility of home and work life on their shoulders, but you can be sure they won’t be playing hero when a cold or flu knocks them down.
Take a page from Aretha’s book and demand a little respect for yourself—specifically for your health and well-being.
I know. I KNOW. Who else is going to do the things you do when you’re sick? Life doesn’t just stop. But, maybe it should. Maybe the things that seem so terribly important really aren’t in the grand scheme of things.
If there is some pressing obligation that absolutely MUST be done, then fine, do that thing if you must. But, for everything else, a day or two (or even more) off won’t be the end of the world.
Pushing too hard can prolong sickness
Another reason to take a break: you might heal faster.
It’s the same as having an injury.
If you hurt your hip running but continue your usual training and refuse to give it a break, you will prolong the injury and possibly even cause more damage.
When you’re sick, you should also take time to rest and recover so you’re not delaying your recovery.
Even though it might be difficult, the smart thing to do is rest, recoup, and return stronger.
Yeah, I get it, but I have no one to cover for me
So, what should you do if you’re sick and you want to take the day off from mom duty but have no one to cover for you?
Simple: lower your standards.
I would never have accepted this as a realistic option until hyperemesis knocked me down during my second pregnancy. Although my husband and our family helped where they could, my husband still had to work, and everyone else’s lives couldn’t stop during those months either.
So, what did I do? I had to lower my standards. My son was only two and a half, so for us that meant more screen time, simple pre-prepped meals that he could eat, and paging through books together instead of playing outside. It also meant that most housework was put on hold and that I requested assistance with my remote work projects.
If you have older kids, it could mean that they prepare their own meals, organize their own bookbags, and get themselves out the door without your help.
Only you will know how to apply this advice to your own life, and how you do so will depend on the ages of your kids, how much help you have from other caregivers, whether you also work outside the home, and how long you expect to be down.
The point is moms sacrifice a lot for their kids and families. Self-care is important, and sometimes it’s as simple as saying “I’m taking a sick day. Deal with it.”
Candace is a practicing attorney, working parents advocate, freelance writer, and proud mom. Her legal practice focuses on workers' rights. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, cooking, and renovating her midcentury home with her husband. She can be found writing about law, motherhood, and more on her blog as The Mom at Law. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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