After sharing my story on social media, I have had several moms ask what they can do to prepare for the virus to hit their family. Experts all agree that most Americans will get this virus at some point. But, that’s ok! Most of us will be able to self manage symptoms at home. I do not want to down play that this disease is serious for some, but this post is meant to help families who will experience the virus in its mild/moderate form.
First, talk to you kids in a matter of fact way about what is going on in the world. My kids are seven, five, and two. The two year old obviously doesn’t have a clue, but my other kids had some questions. When schools first started closing, we very plainly told them that there was a new virus going around that can be very serious for people who are older and who are already sick (that is how we defined preexisting conditions for them in this context), and some people will have to go to the hospital. We told them that the virus was not really dangerous for our family – that even if we got sick, we would be ok. But, we explained how everything was closing to help keep people safe and healthy. My husband and I chose not to talk about news headlines in front of the kids or our fears and anxieties. When the virus was confirmed to be making its way through our own family, we were able to simply say, “Yes, mommy has coronavirus, and two of you have already had it. Remember your cough? That was the virus, but now you are all better.” In fact, just this morning, my 5yo complained of a stomachache and has a low grade temperature. I told her that it was her turn to have the virus, and she just said ok and went back to playing. All along, we have validated their feelings about things being different and hard with social distancing and quarantine. But we have always always reiterated that this is what we need to do to help keep people safe and healthy.
Secondly, as far as what actions to take, here are a few ideas of things to do (and hoarding things is NOT one of them). If your time and budget allows, making some freezer meals will help. The fatigue and aches are real. They also come and go day by day. Having quick and easy meals that are already prepared will help conserve your energy. Honey was also something that was nice to have on hand. It is helpful for soothing a cough and a sore throat. For the body aches, we have been using Tylenol. There is mixed information about the use of ibuprofen, so speak to your own doctor about that. Taking a warm bath with 2 cups of epsom salts also helped with the body aches that would come on in the evening.
Thirdly, REST! This is so hard for moms, especially if your children are little. But please, this is NOT the time to try to push through. Covid19 is such a strange disease. The symptoms come and go for a while. Some people, like me, will take a turn for the worse around days 7-9. I really thought I was over it, then I started to really have breathing difficulty. Do not push yourself. Do not put your body under any additional stress. Turn the TV on for the kids, order them a few new toys, do what ever you need to do to be able to rest just do it.
Lastly, don’t panic. This is a hard one. I know it is. How can we not panic when we are getting daily death toll updates and news conferences? It’s all so incredibly heartbreaking. But, when you or someone in your family starts having symptoms, just take it day by day. Call your doctor for advice and care instructions. Do your best to not focus on all the what ifs. If that means you need to turn off the news and really guard what you see and hear, then do it. Protecting your mental health is just as important as protecting your physical health.