Sick kids in the house is no joke. Everything is affected. When one kid gets sick, you know the others aren't long behind. Sleep patterns change or disappear altogether. Exhaustion and discomfort team up to build a great crankiness. That crankiness is more contagious than a virus in daycare. Whining is suddenly a child's only communication tool. Patience grows thin. As parents and caregivers, we do the best we can. We scramble to find available doctors' appointments with already-overwhelmed offices. We search high and low for much-needed medication while the shelves and pharmacies are cleaned out. We offer our comfort while trying to keep our own composure. The housework falls behind. Our countertops look like the shelves of CVS. We may feel like we're at the end of our ropes sometimes. We can't wait for bedtime to get some rest, but the night offers no relief. Fevers escalate, coughs worsen, and children are hard to console. Then you can't wait for the morning for the hope of a fresh start. It's an ongoing cycle of waiting and longing for something to come when finally your children are healed, you find your rest, and your home is at peace again.
If any of that sounds familiar to you over the last month, you're clearly not alone, though it probably FEELS really lonely. It's lonely because you might not be able to do some of the other stuff in life that you enjoy. It might feel lonely because you miss out on gatherings with family or friends. Maybe you can't serve others in the ways you're used to. It might feel lonely because you're cooped up at home while other people seem like they're living their best life. It might feel lonely because you're burnt out caring for others and you need a little care for yourself. So here's what I want you to know as you care for those little ones:
You're doing the Lord's work.
We might think of "doing the Lord's work" as volunteering in church, working as a missionary, or engaging in some activity we categorize as "spiritual". But let's not forget that God cares about ALL our lives--what we do for the public to see, and how we care for our home behind closed doors. He hasn't forgotten about us. He is with us. As we do our best caring for our families wondering if it's enough, He sees us and loves us.
Here's some pastoral advice from a fellow parent. Find a couple moments to focus on yourself (maybe even use screen time or ask your spouse for a couple minutes alone). Pour yourself a tasty hot beverage, read Psalm 23 and let God restore your soul. Take some deep breaths. Breathe in the love and grace of Jesus, and breathe out your troubles and worries. Pay attention to your body. Where are you tense and carrying your stress? Focus on relaxing those parts of your bodies. Pray and tell God how you're feeling. Remember that as much as you care for your own children, God cares for you infinitely more as HIS child. Ask for the grace to face the day and sleepless night ahead of you. Now, bring your restored self back to your precious children, give them a hug and a kiss, and remember…loving and caring for children is the Lord's work.
Hang in there. God is with you.