It's been a crazy week!
My kids never get ear infections or things that require antibiotics, and I'm certainly thankful for that. But they do seem to acquire more than their fair share of stomach bugs. This past week, Rosemary's Baby brought home one last stomach bug before school was out. And, yet again, I caught it. I'm just fine now, and the Captain returned home this morning, so life couldn't be better. But because this was the fifth stomach bug for me in less than two years, and because four of those bugs hit while the Captain was away, I've determined that, with a six-month deployment in our near future, I need to start taking better care of myself when I'm playing the role of single parent.
When I'm on my own here, I tend to cut myself slack in all the wrong areas. I'm betting a lot of moms, military and otherwise, can identify with this one. You want to be the best parent you can be, so you focus on the kids, and then you use that to justify ignoring yourself. As a result, you walk past the hall mirror one day and find yourself startled by the unkempt woman in stained sweats and a stringy topknot looking back at you.
For me, when the Captain heads out, the first things to go are exercise and nutrition. There's no one to keep an eye on little explorers while I'm on the treadmill, and my kids won't eat much of what I cook. Cooking just for me seems like a waste of time and energy, so I end up eating toast, or popcorn, or the disgusting processed meat products the kids like. My vegetable intake goes way down and, apparently, so does my immune system. So, when the Captain goes away again, the first item on my list of positive changes is to cook myself a nutritious meal every evening, and to fit in exercise any way I can.
Then there's the childcare issue. I am lucky enough to have a sitter here in town, and two nearby daycare centres with a casual childcare program in place. Packing snacks, lunches, changes of clothes etc sometimes seems like more trouble than just staying home with them, so I don't use these services as much as I should. My kids really are my life, but once every couple of weeks, a morning apart is good for all of us. I recharge and they get to play with new toys and new kids. It's win-win.
And, lastly, I have GOT to get more sleep. When the Captain isn't here to keep me in routine, going to bed at night is kind of lonely, and staying up late feels like a bit of a luxury. And that'd be fine if Rosemary's Baby wasn't genetically programmed to be jumping on my bed every morning before 6AM. I can't sleep in, so staying up late isn't a healthy option. And the things I do with those extra few hours could hardly be considered constructive either. Two nights ago, after a phone conversation with Sister #1, I spent about two hours online watching the ShamWow infomercial and researching this product, as well as the guy who peddles it. After becoming way too emotionally invested in the legal troubles of the ShamWow guy, I think it's fair to say that my time would've been better spent paying off my sleep debt. So, when I am alone again, I vow to be in bed with a good book by nine, lights-off at ten.
I have a sneaking suspicion that staying a little healthier isn't actually rocket science. If I follow a few old-fashioned rules that mothers have been spouting for centuries, I'm betting I can cut these stomach bugs in half, at least.
If not, at least I can clean up the mess with my new ShamWow.