The sick single mum survival guide

Sick single mum

Getting sick sucks. Getting sick when you’re a single mum sucks even more. With little people relying on you to keep going and keep smiling, taking time out to heal can be almost impossible. But there are things you can do make it more bearable. Our sick single mum guide will have you feeling better in no time.

We’ve divided the guide into two parts: 1) Before you get sick,  and 2) When you get sick. Both are important to help you manage through the challenging times.

Further reading: 8 Ways to teach your kids emergency preparedness at home.


Know your body

You know your own body, and although a cold or flu can strike at any time, you will know what time of year you are most susceptible to illness. Most people get colds in the winter or when they are particularly run down. Often you will feel a cold coming on a few days before it really hits you. Be aware of these signs and try to slow down as much as possible at this stage. If you can’t, start to prepare what you need if you are out-of-action for a while.

Prevention is better than cure

Being healthy in general will make your immune system stronger and less susceptible to colds and flu. If you really have no support around you, you might want to consider getting vaccinated. This means you will avoid the flu altogether, or at least get less symptoms. Other simple ways to prevent a nasty cold taking hold is to exercise regularly, don’t smoke, eat healthily and get plenty of sleep.

Take your vitamins to prevent being a sick single mum

Taking supplements can help to prevent illness and assist in the healing process. We talked about your susceptible times already. If you know when they are, take zinc, Vitamin C and/or echinacea, or whatever you have found to work for you in the past. And consider giving your children appropriate, safe supplements too.

Further reading: 15 Foods to seriously boost your immune system.

Cook and freeze

When we get ill, the last thing we want to do is eat, and cooking is even less appealing. Yet, your kids will still be expecting three meals-a-day, with snacks in-between. Use your freezer to ensure you have plenty of meals and snacks you can simply defrost, reheat and serve. If you are really keen you can even make a nice chicken broth or other warming dishes to assist with your healing when/if the time comes. It won’t hurt to pop some milk and others essential in the freezer too. Just going out the house can be a mission if you’re really rough.

Prepare your ‘Sick Single Mum’ kit

Don’t you hate that sinking feeling when you reach for the Panadol and there are none? The local shop, which is usually super convenient, suddenly feels like it is a million miles and an assault course away. Think about what you need when you are sick and make a ‘Sick Single Mum’ kit. This may include Panadol, Berocca, Lemsips, tissues, honey, cough sweets .. and even some of your favourite DVD’s and magazines. You will be very grateful to your super-organised self for preparing this kit.

On call doctor

Never used an on-call doctor service before? They are brilliant. But the last thing you want to be doing when you feel ill is Googling the best one to use. Look online now or call your local surgery for details of a local call-out service. Stick the number on the fridge or in your ‘Sick Single Mum’ kit in case things get really bad and you need some medical support.


Call in support (and favours)

This is not a time for holding-back, reach out for support! Whether it’s to give the kids a lift to school or take the baby for half a day, if you don’t ask you won’t get. If you have family nearby, call on them. What about friends you have recently helped? Or parents of your children’s friends? If you co-parent, call the kids dad. The more support you can get, the more rest you will have and the quicker you can heal.

Phone in sick

Don’t be a martyr … and don’t turn up to work coughing and spluttering and pass your cold onto everyone else. Your boss won’t thank you for it, neither will your colleagues. You are entitled to time off work if you are ill, take it. Make the call. Carrying on working when you’re sick will make you worse, and increase the recovery time. It’s just not worth it.

Keep fluids up

One of the simplest things you can do to assist the healing process is to drink, drink, drink. And no, not wine. Water is best, but juice or anything cold will do, but ideally not milk because this can be an irritant when you have a cold. Drinking will keep your temperature down, replace lost fluid and loosens mucus. Suck on ice cubes if your throat is sore … heaven.

Use medication

Don’t hold back on medication, so long as you take it according to the packet instructions. The reality is that there is no cure for the common cold so relieving the symptoms while you sit it out is the best you can do. Having said that, don’t take more than absolutely necessary as they will become less effective as your body gets used to them.

Take your vitamins (again)

If you weren’t taking your vitamins before you got ill, start now. Anything that can assist your body to recover is a bonus. Hopefully you’ll have put some in your ‘Sick Single Mum’ kit. Adding natural healing products to your pharmaceutical remedies will give your healing an extra boost. Vitamins can come from food sources too. Lemon, garlic, ginger, honey are all beneficial to you if you are sick.

Don’t let sick single mum germs spread

The only thing worse than being unwell as a single mum, is when you kids get ill too. Take quick action to prevent this happening. Get military with handwashing, surface wiping and general hygiene. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing. Use a tissue and throw it away straight after. Take out shares in hand sanitiser and use antibacterial wipes on door handles and remote controls if you have the energy. There is only so much you can do to not pass on a cold, but it’s worth a try at least!

Do nothing

Before you start laughing at the impossibility of it all, resting is the best thing you can do to recover from your illness. Tell you children this, depending on their age, it may or may not work. Sleep helps your body fight infection so the more you can get, the better. Maybe tuck into some of that chicken broth you so cleverly thought to put in the freezer, or watch some of your favourite movies. You may even start to enjoy it.

Further reading: Choosing the right flowers for your sick single mum friend.

Take action if you feel worse

If you find you’re not getting better, or your symptoms are persisting or getting worse, it may be time to see a doctor. Book an emergency appointment or call out a doctor. What may appear to be a common cold, could be flu or something more complicated. Look after yourself mumma.

Ditch the ‘sick single mum’ guilt

You are only human, you will get ill from time to time. It is perfectly natural. You need as much time, space and support to heal as anyone else. Make sure you get it. If you do find yourself tucked-up on the couch with your favourite book while your neighbour takes the kids to school THAT IS FINE. Guilt and stress will not help you get better. Rest and relaxation will. So make the most of it, it may be a while until you get a chance again!

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Sally Love

About the author

Sally Love is a pseudo single mum author who has been writing about single motherhood, separation and divorce for 8+ years. She has been a single mother for 10+ years and has two daughters, one of whom she co-parents and the other she solo parents. Sally has experienced all aspects of single motherhood from legal, financial, parenting, dating, travel as a single parent, re-partnering and re-building a career. She is an integral part of the Beanstalk community chatting and helping single mothers across the globe, as well as sharing her expertise, experiences and genuine reviews with major national newspapers and appearing on nation-wide television shows.

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