Have you ever been unable to take care of your sick child? Then you know how hard parental guilt could be.
Long story short, recently my daughter got sick with the stomach flu. It wasn’t serious but it still got her into the hospital. And if this isn’t bad enough, on the third day I caught it and being 9 months pregnant I ended up in hospital as well.
And while I knew her dad and grandma would take good care of her while I’m away, I just couldn’t stop feeling guilty that someone else must take care of my still somewhat sick child and mostly that I cannot be there for her.
So if you’re in a similar position, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
How to deal with parental guilt
In 99% of the cases, the best thing you can do for your children is to be there for them when they need you.
Still, there’s this 1% when you just have to keep your distance for yours or their own good. Such a time apart could be excruciating.
But you could still pull it off. Here is how to deal with parental guilt when you just need to keep your distance.
It’s not your fault
The most important thing before anything else is to keep reminding yourself that you are not to blame.
My common sense kept telling me it’s not my fault but I couldn’t process it until I heard it from my hubby at least five times.
I still feel like I could take further precautions and avoid such a situation but now that I have a more clear overview it was bound to happen sooner or later, no matter what you do.
Leave them in good hands
When it comes to taking care of a little one, sick or healthy, mom is the ultimate solution. What is it that you don’t know about this kid?
With this said, no one seemed like a good enough substitution. But I still needed to find a way.
By the way, this was actually the first time I ever wondered who would take care of her if anything was to happen to me.
So this is how I arranged it. If it couldn’t be me, it had to be the two second-closest people to her. In our case, that was her dad and her grandma. They were taking care of her simultaneously, with one of them leaving when something needs to be done.
Although they both love her more than anything, I wouldn’t leave her with any one of them on their own. Not because I don’t trust them but because they just don’t have the routine and organisation to handle 72h alone with a toddler.
Keep in touch but don’t get obsessive
This was probably the second hardest thing for me. I wanted to know how she’s doing every single second.
To the point of obsession.
It took me more than 24h to overcome this and resist the urge to bother them at all times. Instead, we agreed:
- They will video call me 2 times a day during playtime so I can see her and talk to her (and so they can report on the situation)
- They will call me after bedtime so I can sleep easily knowing she’s well and asleep
- They will call me at any time, day or night, if they have a problem or a question.
Following these rules may be hard for me but it has some undeniable benefits:
- They can focus on the task at hand
- The child is not constantly reminded that mom is not there
- They have time to rest physically and mentally
- You have time to rest and get better
Plan to make up for the lost time
A great way to battle parental guilt is to figure out a way to make up for the time apart. All you need is a smartphone and some internet access.
In our case, I was thinking about taking our daughter to a nearby forest park. There is a mini zoo, a lake, wild ducks, i.e. all kinds of fascinating things for toddlers.
We could even do the spring scavenger hunt I was working on recently.
Think of a thank you gift for the caregiver
No one has to take care of someone else’s children. Even if they are their own grandchildren.
So I firmly believe that a small thank you gift is in order.
Since my mom is the one looking after her with my hubby and I know she loves getting a massage, I’m thinking about a spa day gift certificate because she would really need some relaxation.
Alternatively, I recently did a post on self-treatment ideas, many of which could go great as a gift. As a bonus, there’s a free self-treatment cards pack.
Find a pleasant way to spend the time
Last but not least, you need a way to pass the time.
Since our state hospitals don’t have wifi I couldn’t work from there, which was a real bummer. Instead, this is what I did:
- Read an ebook
- Drafted this post on my smartphone
- Watched online courses on SkillShare
I strongly recommend choosing any activity that makes you feel fulfilled and productive. Especially if you don’t feel so ill.
Being separated from your sick child for the first time is a horrifying experience for any parent. The worry, the guilt, and the feeling of being useless can be overwhelming.
Still, blaming yourself for not being there won’t get you together again sooner.
Instead, focus on spending the time apart in the most productive way possible and you’ll hold your loved ones again before you know it.