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Ok, I’m not sure I can really call myself a freelance writer or freelancer yet, but I do have a sick kid at the moment.
I’m on a sabbatical of sorts after demanding improvement at a job I was unhappy with. Having the financial security to make those demands has left me without a job.
Luckily, as I said, though I’m not financially independent, I am financially secure with a good emergency fund and a paid off mortgage. That has allowed me to take some extra time to focus on blogging and developing some freelance income streams while I take the time to look for the next right job.
I just got back from a 3+ week trip to Hawaii (on which I got nothing done). Sincerely, I planned to go full attack mode on the freelance front when I returned… except, my kid is sick.
Priorities with Children
As a parent, nothing brings you to your knees quite like a sick child.
As an educated pharmacist, I turn into a pathetic, paranoid obsessed mom. Even though I know better.
I can’t help but make almost all activities stop when my baby wants nothing other than me.
And, let me tell you, there is nothing he wants other than me. Suddenly it’s like his dad doesn’t exist. Now, that’s saying something, because my husband is a stay at home dad. Three months after birth I went back to work, and until recently, that meant he spent his days with dad. But when your sick, I guess, there’s just nothing like Mama.
Being Mama, that new(ish) part of my identity that, for me, has taken precedence over all others, means I drop whatever I have to answer to my sick child’s calls.
Given that I’m on this sabbatical of sorts, I don’t feel like my attention is pulled in so many directions and there just isn’t enough time in the day. But, do still need to be mindful of how I choose to spend my time.
Women Who Money just did a post on the drawbacks of freelance work. While they offer solutions to many of the potential problems they run into, I think it can be really hard to contend with a sick child.
One of the benefits of freelance is that flexible schedule and ability to be there when your family needs you. You may have childcare options lined up (and indeed, my husband IS here, but my son wants nothing to do with him), but, can you focus and not feel guilty getting away when you know your sick kid is in the next room?
Sick Kids During Travel
My son started to get sick during our trip to Hawaii. It started with a week of stomach ache complaints. He would wake up multiple times per night crying that his tummy hurt and he had to go poo. Tired and frustrated as I was, I would diligently, and as patiently as I was able to muster, carry him in the dark and sit with him in the bathroom… and he wouldn’t poop.
I don’t know if he really had to go, or if his stomach was just hurting. Who am I to argue with a sick kid?
I figured he was constipated as he wasn’t near as regular as usual and our diets were a bit off and gave him some Miralax and apple juice. That fixed the lack of poo problem, but he continued to complain about stomach upset.
Along with the nighttime complaints, there was general malaise, whining and being a bit mopey during the day. Kiddo clearly wasn’t enjoying himself as much as he had been before he got sick.
We took things slower, with more time in our vacation rentals and only a couple hours of activities a day. I did a whole lot of cuddling too.
This lasted about a week and then appeared to get better.
Sick Kid Round Two
A week later and he developed a fever. He was still waking at night saying he had to go poo, but not going. At this point, I wasn’t sure what was going on and if he really had a stomach ache at all or not.
Often, he’d have a good bout of gas after saying this and go back to sleep. But he was still sleeping very fitfully, and with mild fever. It wasn’t constipation.
Two weeks into our trip at this point, I thought maybe it was just “being over it.” Increased neediness, whiny, clinginess… reflecting the novelty of travel had worn off and kid was a bit homesick.
It was hard to tease out what was “sick” versus the above. And, kid was milking it a bit too. He figured out he could get the foods he wanted and not eat what we were serving when we served it. He would refuse to eat at meal times and then demand “snacks” as soon as we got in the car.
And what am I to do or say when the kid has a fever? So, for the most part we worked to keep him as happy, fed and hydrated as possible while he was sick.
What do you do while your kid is sick?
Needless to say, I didn’t get a damn thing done on the freelance front on vacation. We had a lot more downtime than I had planned for on the trip due to the sick child. Downtime was spent tending to the sick child (who insisted to be touching me at nearly all times), or, resting up myself from sleepless nights.
And, most vacation activities came to a halt. I made a goal of getting out of the house daily. That usually meant 1-2 hours of activity at about 4pm and the rest of the day spent in the vacation rental.
Ok, We’ll take Him in to the Dr.
Frustrating (and scary) as it was having a sick kid while traveling, I knew there was nothing they would do if I took him in.
He was eating (though less than normal). But was drinking enough. Other than that, he had no other symptoms than the fever and malaise. They would tell me to watch and wait. So wait we did. There’s nothing like feeling helpless as a parent, let me tell you.
I wish there were actually some symptoms. At least with a cold, you know they are going to get over it in a few days to a week. No symptoms and your just left there twiddling your thumbs thinking “WTF?!” The stomach complaints had mostly gone away, but the fever was still there.
I made an appointment for the day we returned from our trip to take him in. Of course, as these things go, the fever settled down the day before and the day that we returned, so I cancelled the appointment.
Three Days of “Normalcy”
The last day of our trip he was acting pretty normal and never clocked over 99.9. The next day, same thing, though as we we’re doing so much travel I didn’t check the temp, but I don’t think I saw it over 99. But the biggest thing was, he was acting pretty normal.
Our first full day home and he seemed happy relatively normal and no fever. I have to take “normal” with a grain of salt here, because coming off a 3 week trip with a toddler, it’s going to take a while for them to get back into a routine at home.
Plus, in 3 weeks, a lot can change in the behavior of a toddler. What was normal when we left home isn’t necessarily normal now, plus whatever intellectual advancements have been made related to travel. But, overall, he seemed pretty normal and had a bit of an appetite back.
I’m Home, and Ready to Get Back to Work!
Except, now I’m not again.
Because the fever is back.
We had a 3 day reprieve, and now it’s back. My hope is, that because my son has never really been sick, he’s just getting hit with multiple bugs back to back.
But, the lack of other symptoms has me a bit worried. If this is all the same thing, that means we’re on day 12.
Thing is, the practical pharmacist part of me knows that they’re still not going to do anything at this point. But the Mama part of me can’t put off a Dr. visit (and the full price charge that will come with it, thank goodness for my HSA) any longer.
And as for the freelance efforts and blogging-
Well, I’m doing what I can, but it’s not much.
It can be extremely frustrating because my laptop is right there! I’ve got my phone in my hand! But, at least for my kid, when he’s sick, he needs to be physically touching me.
He wants to be sleeping on my lap. He wants to be cuddled in and tucked into one arm.
That means, even when I’m stuck for hours with a sleeping kid on me, I’ve often only got the use of one arm. Consequently, if we chat on Twitter, this is also why I “like” a whole lot of posts but don’t always comment a lot. You can like with one hand available, commenting is harder.
If it was just a cold, I’d probably more inclined to extricate myself and get some work done. But, my baby is sick. It’s lasting longer than it should. And, he only wants me.
So, for now, even though I want to shoot for the moon in my freelance efforts, the job of Mama takes priority over anything else.
Regina is That Frugal Pharmacist. She’s a PharmD, mother to a son with cancer, breadwinning wife, personal finance enthusiast, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. Regina’s single-income household has been debt-free, including her home, since she was 28 years old.
Her money approach is “holistic financial health.” She encourages mindful spending, awareness of the non-monetary costs of choices, and aligning personal values with money habits. Regina sees a frugal lifestyle and mindset as an important part of environmental stewardship. As such she’s interested in ongoing efforts towards self-sufficiency and sustainability.