The phone was ringing and I couldn't find the energy to answer it. I knew I should answer, needed to answer, but couldn't summon the strength necessary. I'd been fighting the discouragement and frustration of a lingering illness for months and didn't see any end in sight. Doctor's said I'd see an improvement within six months of beginning this new medicine, but a month in and nothing felt different, in fact, I felt worse. I couldn't imagine how my business was going to survive if something didn't change soon.
Dealing with sickness as a mom is always challenging. When you add in the responsibilities of a business it can feel downright impossible. As I dealt with my health problems over the course of the last year, I've found a few ways to keep my business afloat while I'm healing.
Schedule your time in small chunks.
During the toughest weeks of my illness, I would set daily goals like "work for one hour" and "work on laundry." By giving myself small goals like these I was almost always able to achieve them. It is amazing how crossing things off from my to-do list helped me to feel productive. My efficiency was a far cry from what it normally is, but I felt encouraged by these accomplishments.
It's also imperative to schedule specific times to rest. Despite the fact that I was sick, I felt guilty for feeling so tired all of the time. By penciling in fifteen minutes or so at a time to rest, I was freed from the guilt. It became one more item to check off of my daily to-do list.
The extra benefit was that scheduling it in helped my three-year old to adjust to these short nap times. I would lay on the couch and rest and he would sit with me and watch a movie or play the Wii. This way I always knew where he was and he knew I was there for him if he needed me.
Outsource as much as possible.
My virtual assistant (VA), without even being aware of it, was crucial to me during this time. She was able to take on some of the tasks that I do on a regular basis. What a relief to know that I could count on her to do the things that HAD to be done. Even the weeks when I was at my lowest I knew the necessary tasks were taken care of.
If your kids are old enough you can "outsource" some additional chores to them while you're healing. My six-year old was such a great source of hope and help to me. By helping me more than usual with tasks like laundry, vacuuming and even cooking (she can put crescent rolls on a cookie sheet better than any other six-year old I know), she felt like she was assisting in my recovery. So often our kids feel helpless, like there is no way that they can help us when we're ill. This was a wonderful way for her to feel needed and helpful.
Let your family help.
During the months that I dealt with health problems, my family played a crucial role in keeping my business afloat. My husband would often take the kids out to dinner or simply outside to play, giving me time to rest and work if I felt up to it.
Grandma, too, comes in especially handy if she's available and willing. Although, a neighbor or good friend may be willing to help out when needed.
Don't take on too much.
Even when you're feeling your best it's important to learn the art of saying no. Know your limits and don't go overboard - even with good activities. When you're dealing with sickness, it's imperative that you be honest with yourself about your limits. Don't try to take on all that you would were you well.
When faced with making a decision about a new project or other activity you're considering, write out your schedule and take a close look at it. Can you afford to add anything? Is there anything that can be cut?
Be nice to yourself.
Take the time to treat yourself to a small reward near the end of each day. This can be something as simple as taking a bubble bath or going out for fast food instead of cooking. Don't let guilt overwhelm you. Remember, the better care you take of yourself, the more energy you'll have for those tasks like cooking and laundry that now seem exhausting.
About the Author:
Jill Hart is the founder of Christian Work at Home Moms, CWAHM.com. Jill is a contributing author in the new book Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement For Military Wives (Moody Publishers) and co-author of the upcoming book So You Want To Be a Work at Home Mom (Beacon Hill Press, Sept 09).