If you’re in the northern hemisphere, it’s probably cold and flu season around your parts. Even though it’s summer here in Australia, we’ve still managed to get quite a few illnesses circulating recently.
Well, a couple of months ago, at 22 weeks pregnant with twins, I developed acute bronchitis.
I’d already been sick with a head cold for two weeks before that, and suddenly the cough took a turn for the worse. For three weeks after that, I could barely leave the house. I was in the middle of finishing an eBook, planning a launch, conducting a search for two regular contributors, and trying to keep up with my daily child care and routines.
While I can’t say I was as productive during my illness as I would have been otherwise, I did manage to keep up with my writing schedule to a reasonable extent.
There are a few keys to how I was able to continue carrying my workload while I was feeling under the weather. Next time you’re hit with a bug, try the following tactics:
Call in reinforcements.
When you’re sick, your parents, mother-in-law, friends, or neighbours may be willing to watch your kids, clean your house, or run errands for you. I don’t usually like to beg for help, but the worse I felt with this cough, the more willing I was to ask.
My mother-in-law was kind enough to give me a hand with the kids when she was in town. Just having someone to play with my 2-year-old and do the pile of dishes on the counter for me was a huge help.
Having a few household tasks out of the way gave me more energy to keep up with my writing.
Cut out unnecessary activity.
The school year was just wrapping up when my illness was at its peak. As a parent, this meant there were still before-and-after school runs to do, and extracurricular activities to attend.
I got my husband to take over picking up and dropping off our older son from school, and I asked a couple of other moms who also attended the same extracurricular activities if they wouldn’t mind taking my son with their own kids. My husband took over all the grocery shopping until I started to feel better, as well.
Not having to leave the house as much gave me more time to rest and recuperate, and gave me a chance to work on writing tasks when needed.
Get as much done as possible when you feel the least rotten.
Some days, I felt like I couldn’t pull myself out of bed, while others I had a little more energy. Mornings and evenings were particularly bad (because I was hardly sleeping at all, and the cough seemed to be worse at those times), so I made sure I didn’t do anything for the first and last couple of hours of the day.
In between, sometimes I’d perk up a bit—enough to allow me to write a blog post, work on a short story, or answer some important emails. Because I knew afternoons were the best times of day for me, I allowed myself to rest morning and evening, and did as much as possible in between.
Most of us can ‘look forward’ to catching at least one cold, flu, or stomach virus this season. While being sick is never fun, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean the death of your writing schedule until you regain your health. A hand from friends and family, cutting back on your physical activity level, and working hard during those brief times of relief can help you emerge from your illness without a lengthy to-do list.
When you’re sick, do you allow yourself complete rest? Or, do you push yourself too hard to maintain the same level of productivity you usually have? Have you managed to achieve a healthy balance between the two?
Join the discussion
Rose Byrd says
Cutting out unnecessary activites, or ones that at least can be safely post-poned for a couple of days, is the single biggest help to me when I am not at my best physically. Doing every little bit I can when feeling the least ill is also very good advice. I find that I need to be alone ever more at these “downish” times to get any productive writing done–other people around within hearing distance make the headaches worse!
I agree, Rose. I like to be left alone as much as possible when I’m feeling unwell, which isn’t an easy task with two rambunctious boys!
Thanks for the help. =) I have had a little cold this week, and so has my sister and best friend. When I read the title of the article, I was getting excited. What a perfect thing to write about during flu season!
Hope you feel better soon, Emily! I’m glad this came at the right time.
Tasha Seegmiller says
Your timing on this article could not have been better. I have just caught a bug that I can tell is going to hang around for a while, and I’ve been fighting the desire to just sit in bed and read 🙂 Great suggestions – THANKS!
Seems like a lot of people are getting sick right now. I hope your bug disappears quickly, and don’t forget that reading is a writing-related task, too!
Jeannie Leflar says
I guess I’m the weanie of the commentors so far…if I feel really bad I rest and sleep so I can get over the worst of it. If it is slight or mild I keep pushing on, doing only what I have to do and trying to rest in between tasks. My hubby is great for helping out on good days so that’s a blessing in and of itself! Thank goodness I’m rarely sick! Hope you are feeling better.
I felt really bad when I was in the thick of working on so many different things at once, and I was super sick. It’s great that your husband is around to give you a hand!
Cathryn Leigh says
Sound advice indeed. They type of advice that makes me wish my family was closer. Thankfully the evening I was diagnosed with Pneumonia was the evening my In-laws arrived for Thanksgiving week here in the States. That made a huge difference in allowing me to get the rest I needed.
I am seeing atrend though – that’s the second time I’ve gotten sick at the end of November. I don’t know if it’s NaNo burn out or the fact I got a flue shot, or the combination of the two. :} Or it could just be that I’m a mom and eventually my immune system can’t handle all the germs the kids bring home.
I had pneumonia once—no fun. I hope you’re over it now! You’re so right about all the germs the kids bring home. I’ve really had to emphasize the importance of proper hand-washing to my kids, because it seems like every time they have a play date, they get sick.
Sandra Madeira says
I love your blogs – they are so informative. Whilst I have being doing my daily writing challenge I thankfully haven’t been ill; however, even with a headache I found it hard to drag myself to the computer and write something useful for my readers. Great tips which I will bear in mind- thank you.
Thank you, Sandra. Here’s to hoping you don’t catch anything this season!
Sarah Baughman says
This is a well-timed post! I used to try to push through illnesses much more, but now that I have children I find myself pretty motivated to do the bare minimum while sick in order to get better faster. Being sick, especially with kids, is so inconvenient that I just want to do whatever I can to get well! Recently my entire family came down with the stomach flu, one by one. The day I felt sickest, I remember sitting in the living room holding my baby daughter and surveying the house, which looked as though a tornado had just screamed through. Usually clutter is my pet peeve, but I just willed myself not to care. It actually worked; I kept resting, and was better the next day!
Ugh, we’ve had two bouts of the stomach flu through our house since Christmas! It’s all the play dates the kids have been having, and large gatherings of people where germs seem to spread so readily. Thankfully I escaped the worst of it, but my older son got really hammered a couple of times. It’s definitely not easy with kids, but we do what we can!
Ashley Prince says
I wish I would have read this four days ago. 🙁 I have been sick and I feel as though my blog life, Twitter life, interactive life was failing. I also didn’t have a lot that I needed to do. Semester doesn’t start until tomorrow and I have called out of work for two days now.
I will definitely be keeping this in mind next time I get sick.
Get better soon, Ashley! Hope you can get back in the swing of things this week.
florence fois says
Suzannah, I would think having two boys, being pregnant for twins and all the requisite activities that go with each, would be enough to exhaust anyone. Kudos for you … one that you asked for help and two that you also learned how to designate responsibilities. I am holding the best thoughts for your book launch and your babies 🙂
Thank you, Florence! I’ve never been good at designating responsibilities, but I’ve come to a point where I’m not too proud to ask my mother-in-law to help me get through a pile of dishes when she comes to visit! Thanks, also, for your best wishes for the book launch and twins 🙂
Susan Bearman says
Yikes, I can’t believe you got any writing done during all that. Congratulations. I know it’s especially hard when you’re pregnant because you can’t really even mask the symptoms with over-the-counter meds. For me, my writing suffers even when my kids are sick. My son was home with pneumonia all last week. When he couldn’t sleep, he woke me up. I worried. I schlepped him to the doctor. I kept him away from the other kids to keep them from getting sick. Extra laundry, different meals for him, keeping his teachers up to date and helping him organize his make up work all took their toll on my time. This is when I call on my support network.
I’m afraid when I’m sick, my writing will suffer no matter what. I have to save all my energy and “up” time to do the things that absolutely need to get done for work and family. That said, I do tend to write more when I’m on the mend because I don’t have the energy to do more physical tasks, and writing always makes me feel productive. Here’s to a health winter for us northerners and a healthy summer for you in the southern hemisphere.
Susan, you’re so right about the medication thing. I remember that being the worst part of it—that I couldn’t take anything except regular strength Tylenol now and again for rib pain.
I do think, to some extent, our writing suffers when we’re sick no matter what we do. But I know I always feel better mentally if I know I’m doing what little I can.
Hopefully we’re on our way out of the flu season down here!
I don’t get sick very often, but last week I came down with a cold that knocked me out for most of the week. Even when I wasn’t in a fever induced sleep, I was still too out of it to put together sentences in a coherent fashion, so I didn’t even bother writing.
Still, I’ve always wondered what would have happened had I let myself write during my delerious stages. Who knows? Maybe my inner muse would have come out and surprised me. He never wants to appear when I’m well.
If you’re that out of it, Ken, you need your rest! I think being pregnant and not being able to take any sort of drugs for the cold meant I was more mentally alert during my illness than I would’ve been ordinarily. Hope your’e feeling better!
First off, hope you feel better!
I’ve been knocked down with a horrible cold for a couple of weeks now. The little one has it, too. Having a 2.5 year old makes true rest difficult, but I have to second your recommendation of doing what you can when you feel well. I’ve done multiple blog posts in one sitting (something I never do) and cleaned house when I have energy so life didn’t fall apart around me.
I’m over the illness now, Amber—thank goodness. Hope you’re feeling better soon, too. The only thing worse than being sick when you have kids is being sick at the same time as all of your kids!
Ileandra Young says
I must admit, I’ve only just gotten over the cold I had that seemed to last for a month. Made worse because I’m not allowed anything for it (except paracetamol) and that my body is known for being bad at fighting these things off. I guess being pregnant was the icing on the cake.
For some reason though; I found a did a lot more writing. Perhaps because I wasn’t pushing myself to go to work, run around town, shop, clean and all the other oddments it was easier just to sit in bed with the laptap, a warm cup of honey and lemon, and just scribble.
Though afterwards, now that I’m back at work again I have to put myself on something of a schedule, or else I try to do too much all at once, which means I get less down than usual!
Sorry to hear you’ve been unwell! Being pregnant makes your immune system plummet. I was sick through my entire last pregnancy, from 8 weeks until 36 weeks—coughs, colds, stomach bugs, more coughs… I’ve been blessed enough in this pregnancy to have only been sick once. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t happen again in the next few weeks! I agree that. sometimes, being sick allows us to do even more writing if it means we don’t have to take care of a lot of other responsibilities 🙂
Rebecca Burgener says
I can’t say much because I’m still really learning to keep my writing high on the list of priorities, but I would think even if I only manage some random ramblings, that would be progress. One foot in front of the other!
sandra gardner says
Thank you so much for this post! I started working on the next book in my mystery series January 2. I’ve been sticking with it five days a week: meditation 1 hour, piano practice 1 hour, writing 1 hour, all in the afternoon — my best energy time. Well, early this week, I started feeling sick, dragging, coughing. Was going to give up on my schedule — bad idea! — until I read your post. So I’ve been doing what you suggested — try not to do much physically, save energy for writing. And I’ve been able to keep that schedule! Thanks again!
Sandra, I hope you get back to your regular routine soon!
sandra gardner says
thanks, Suzannah. Glad to hear you’re feeling better! Meanwhile, for some strange reason, I seem to be getting more work done when I don’t feel well! Thanks to you! Otherwise, I would have just been lying around watching TV and feeling bad about not writing!
Even when I’m not feeling well, I make sure I can do at least 2 hours of my work. But sometimes, it’s so hard to control your sickness. It seems that you are mentally blocked of some things. Can’t think of good topics or issues.