Here’s a sample of some of the woes that you’ve submitted in the past few months:

“My kids, 2 and 5, have pink eye and a terrible cold that looks a lot like COVID (but isn’t). We’ve been stuck inside all week trying to telework while taking care of two sick kids.”

“I am so tired of being sick! We have a 1-year-old son in day care full-time and have spent the entire last year with some kind of illness, including getting strep three times starting in July. Things are rough.”

“I am a mom of a 1.5- and a 5-year-old who go to day care/school. I work full-time, from home. In the past 23 workdays, I’ve had a sick kid home with me nine days. This does not include the weekend sick days, the middle-of-the-night puking, and staying up to work in the margins. My partner is helping with all this, but for a variety of reasons it definitely falls mostly on me. I am having a hard time not feeling like this is our fate for the rest of eternity.”

Do you sense a theme? This winter has been incredibly rough on kids and caregivers. We don’t talk enough about the physical, mental, and logistical toll that this endless cycle of viruses has on parents. Thankfully, we are headed into spring, when respiratory viruses ebb.

Today we have three of your stories, and a question about how to handle recurrent illnesses in your household while working full-time.

As always, this is your space, so please leave a comment for any of our readers and contribute your own story or question for a future newsletter here. We love to hear from you.

In My Strong Era

On February 21 you shared “Proud Mom of a Strong Girl,” and I thought: what a great phrase. So I started saying it to my daughter who just turned 2. I also started saying it to my husband and coworkers because, let’s face it, we all need to be reminded of those things.

Yesterday in my daughter’s day care report they said, “Madelyn was helpful in the early morning. She liked putting the plates and forks for everyone and getting the chairs ready. She was saying she was strong and can do it!” Of course I instantly started crying. Thank you for the inspiration! Let’s hope we can start a trend!

Tall Toddler 

Our daughter (22 months) is very tall and heavy relative to the growth curve charts. We all know that the data model isn’t great, and that BMI is problematic, yet our pediatrician asked us to take her to an endocrinologist to get her checked out. We are waiting for results, but I just can’t not focus on the fact that the visit notes say that we were there to discuss “morbid obesity.” She has totally normal baby pudge, but she’s 3 feet tall and 41 pounds, which puts her off the charts for her age but perfectly in line with 4-year-olds.

I know we want to be sure there isn’t anything wrong, but also — the tech/data here is a mess!

Sandwich Night

I happily gave up a career I loved as a chef to stay home with my now 2.5-year-old. But despite (or, I sometimes wonder, because of) my passion for food, his relationship with food has been rocky since we started solids. I followed all the intuitive-eating tricks from day one (offering loads of variety, not pressuring, etc.), but he’s never eaten much and is an extremely picky eater. This has become a real dark spot in parenting for me and taken something I always enjoyed and looked forward to so much about being a mom into an agonizing and painfully unrewarding chore, and has even made me have second thoughts about leaving my career.

My husband suggested we institute a once-a-month dinner where I can cook something I want to make, completely irrespective of what I think my son will eat or needs to eat. I thought he was crazy and this would only add more stress, but for our first month I whipped up a lovely spanakopita chock-full of spinach and Swiss chard. My son came home and started asking for a sandwich. I prepared for a tantrum when he saw what we were actually having, but then I thought: well, it has pastry on top and bottom — kind of a sandwich, right? So I presented him with a “sandwich,” and he ate the most he’s eaten in days! I’ve never been happier for my husband to be right.

This week’s reader question

Illustration of sick parent holding baby while working on a computer.

Rachel Deutsch

How do you and your partner work full-time through recurrent illnesses? Do you keep forging ahead and work at 3 a.m. in between puking? Did one of you move to part-time work? Did your jobs accommodate more time off to recover, even if it came out of your paycheck?

—Sick of Unsustainable Sickness

What do you think?

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