Parenting with illness: the importance of help and support

Being sick really isn’t any fun at all. And being sick when you have other little (or big) people you are responsible for is even worse. Well that was my week last week. It was only really a good 24 hours that I was physically sick with a violent and ugly case of gastro….but it was enough to pretty much write off the whole week. (It didn’t help that 5 out of our 7 family members got it too…so on the plus side, every item of linen and bedding is fresh and clean and the floors have been washed numerous times!)

When lying in my bed, so thankful for my mother who slotted right into proceedings, and a cousin who had made all the kids lunches, it was kind of bizarre sitting back and listening to the goings on of your family, but having no input at all. It was a bit like wanting to help, give advice, join in and be a part of it, but really not caring enough to be the slightest bit interested. It got me thinking about all those parents who live daily with debilitating and ongoing mental and physical illnesses. All of those who have no-one to slot right in and take over the daily tasks when energy and enthusiasm are at rock bottom. How, apart from not being capable of doing the chores and tasks that go into raising a household, there are many that are missing out on the joy of experiences that family life can provide. And not to mention the instability that this can create for those children.

2.85 million children in the US are living with a parent who is battling or recovering from cancer.
In Australia, 1 in 5 parents with dependant children are living with a mental illness. These statistics highlight just how many parents and their children are living in environments that are not always stable and predictable.

Last year I took part in running a support group for children whose parents were living with mental illness. Not only was this a great social outlet for these kids but it also gave them some strategies to help deal with all sorts of circumstances. They relished in being able to talk about the different diseases and conditions, as well as trying to get a perspective of what their parents were facing.  It was a also a chance for them to acknowledge that no-one was to blame for their parents illness. It was also important they realise that it was through no fault of their own as to why their parents can’t always provide everything that they need.

So if you do know anyone or you yourself are suffering at the moment it is so important to seek out the appropriate help. These parents need help with daily chores. They need to provide someone to talk to their kids about the fear and confusion that can accompany living with a parent with illness. They need strategies for their kids to help themselves ‘escape’ the times when parents are at their lowest. They need access to emergency numbers that are easy for them to understand. There are a whole range of services available (and of course there could be much much more), but many times parents are not always up to seeking them out.

So whilst my one week of a gastro infected household is absolutely nothing in comparison to what many live with on a daily basis, it did serve as a reminder to be grateful for the good health we are experiencing that allow us to competently take on the many tasks and to enjoy all the menial and day to day chores that we are often found complaining about. So for today at least, I was happy to wake up, make the lunches, put the breakfast dishes away and pop on that first load of washing…. grateful that I can.

Share this post

Like this article? Sign up to our email newsletter and never miss a post.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Rhianna

    Glad to hear you are feeling better and you are fortunate to have help when you need it most. It is sad to think of so many families that are struggling. Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses

    1. Martine

      Thanks Rhianna…all back to ‘normal’ now!

  2. Michelle

    I think what happens when there’s no one else to slot in, is that the kids go free range until Mum can do the bare minimum without passing out. That’s what happens around here anyway! I fight the illness for as long as I can, and am up and moving as soon as possible, even if I need to stop every 2 minutes and hold on to something.

    I dread to imagine what would happen if I was unable to fulfill my duties for more than a day or two.

    1. Martine

      And we can only do what we can do with what we have. I hope you never have find out what its like for more than a day or two!

  3. kirri

    Every day of wellness is a day to be grateful for sure. I can totally relate to the feeling of being happy to be able to carry out all the ‘menial’ tasks associated with mummy hood…It’s easy to complain and do what needs to be done every day begrudgingly but when you are sick and unable to function properly, suddenly those days of routine and high demand take on new meaning.

    1. Martine

      Absolutely…so important to find joy in all the little things 🙂

  4. mumspk

    As I’m writing I’m sitting here in bed with my 3 and 9 year olds who are keeping me ‘company’ while I res in bed with the flu. Our house is a mess, the washing isn’t done but I’m grateful that when I do recuperate I’ll be well enough to climb those mountains. A great post to remind us to be grateful!

    1. Martine

      Yes we must just let the rest of the house fall down around us sometimes but be thankful that it will all be put back together!

  5. Jess

    At the moment I have a horrible flu, nd am considering ordering pizza for dinner, and putting a movie on so the kids leave me alone. I have a very fresh appreciation for this post right now!

    1. Martine

      Well that is a great option to keep everybody happy! Hope you are much better now. 🙂

  6. Oh Martine, how awful and yet how fortunate, as you rightly say…this situation for you all was temporary…i’ll bet it didn’t quite feel like that though..Hope you are all better. D X

    1. Martine

      Yes Denyse it was a pretty long 24 hours but thankfully only temporary.

  7. I am fit and healthy (most of the time) and struggle to get everything done… and could not imagine how hard it would be to get through it all with a chronic mental or physical illness and little support. This is not only a reminder for what I should be grateful for, but also for how others may benefit from a helping hand.

    1. Martine

      It certainly was a good reminder for me to look out more for those who may nedd a helping hand. 🙂

  8. I’m glad you’re feeling better and it is wonderful that you have such great perspective about being sick. I just feel sorry for myself! I was the sick one a couple of weeks ago and had to look after the kids. It is really hard. But like you said, not has hard as feeling less than 100% every day. When my adrenal fatigue and depression were at their worst everything seemed fuzzy and I can’t remember what we even did day to day. It’s nice to be ‘present’ and for any illnesses to only be temporary.

    1. Martine

      Being temporary is certainly the something I will be grateful for. It is a cliche but we really do take good health for granted.

  9. Christina

    Hi! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!

  10. Juni

    Timely, we were just having a stpiud’ debate at our table tonite what’s your take on stpiud and other such harsh’ words that are no-nos at school and such?! TIA!And, yes, it’s a miracle DH and I lived to tell about our stpiud moments!

Leave a Reply