What does a single mom do when she is sick and has small kids? That is the question that was asked on The Successful Single Mom’s blog recently. The mom in question was sick and didn’t have anyone to help her. She says her poor kids were being ignored all day but she couldn’t do much for them because of her illness. She wanted suggestions about how to handle the situation.
Below is the comment I left:
“Wow! I’ve been there and done that so I know how torturous it is. I think that single moms have to start training their kids to follow instructions for times like these.
When my daughter was four I began training her to do simple things like fix a sandwich, pour milk, answer the phone, and give her baby brother a bottle. By making her a little helper she willingly did what I needed her to do (within reason).
Isolation is a big problem for single moms and it’s so important to be able to call someone. It could be a matter of life and death (or at least days of sickness). We feel so proud and don’t want to burden others but that is counter-productive. You may call a daycare provider, a co-worker, the landlord’s wife, or anyone you deal with everyday for a quick favor.
Tell the kids that you are sick and encourage them to read, watch a DVD, or play quietly. Try to keep plenty of individual snacks, juice boxes, and easy to reach cups for water. Also teach them to clean up after themselves. That will cut down on the mess you will have to clean up later.”
I think it is very important for single moms to be proactive in training their kids to take care of themselves early. It is the fallout from being the child of a single parent, but the payoff is priceless. You will end up with very capable kids who know how to take care of themselves.
I started the practice early with my kids so now they do the basics without much prompting from me now. They both can prepare a basic meal (yes even my 8 year old son) when they get hungry and I am swamped with work or doing other household chores. I decided early on that I didn’t want them to be crippled with dependence on me. I also knew I would never get anything done if I had to do everything.
In addition to preparing a simple meal I’ve taught my kids how to clean their bathroom, do the dishes, wash their clothes (or at least put them in the washer), and iron. These tasks have progressed in difficulty as they’ve gotten older. I make sure they do age appropriate things.
I am just about ready to send my daughter to the store now but she has four more years before she can drive. So I’ll just settle for letting her run in for something quick while I wait in the car.