The Single Parent: Lone Parenting When You're Ill

The Single Parent: Lone Parenting When You're Ill


So, fellow single parents, tell me how you deal with ill heath. Yours, I mean, not that of children.

For two weeks I fought a lurgy that variously had me throwing up, falling asleep standing up, unable to swallow, barely able to breathe, and with limbs that felt like they had been trampled on by a herd of bovver-boot wearing elephants, who then branded them with red hot pokers.

In other words, rough.

But during this time I have still had to parent and work. There was no one to help me out, to do school runs, or cook dinner or supervise homework or see to bedtime routines. No one to answer my phone, reply to my emails, or keep my little cottage industry running. To be fair, the work side of it was quite doable: drag self to desk, type some words, rest swimmy head on hands for a bit, swig Lemsip, type some more. Repeat until afternoon school run time.

The parenting bit didn't come quite so easily.

Half the problem being the fact my son does not need sleep. He has never needed sleep. Now generally, I do not need much sleep either, so I have never had an issue with his late night and early starts, mainly because I can still remember being forced to bed at early o'clock as a child and lying there for hour after hour completely unable to nod off. My son is just the same. Usually I am fine with it but when my body is on the verge of collapse and is craving sleep so badly that it is trying to shut down at the traffic lights, switch off in the queue at the post office, and completely gives up on me on a bench in the playground, it is a different matter.

I needed to take to my bed, and, as my mother would have said, sweated out what ever was wrong with me. Slept it off for a few days, interrupted only by a kindly grown up bringing me paracetamol and mugs of soup.


But no. Because when you are the only kindly grown up in your house, there are no such luxuries. The demands of single parenting do not lessen just because your legs are threatening to give out on you, and your head feels like it is spinning like that girl's from Exorcist's.


It doesn't care that you can barely park the car at the school because you can't see straight and your arms hurt so much it's like you are PUSHING rather than steering it into the space. It cares little if any that your ears and head are pounding with such pressure that every word your child utters is like it is being delivered by megaphone directly into your ear canal.

And despite needing sleep so, so badly, I was actually getting to bed LATER than usual because the damned lurgy made everything – cooking dinner, getting school clothes ready, helping with homework – take twice, no, make that thrice, as long as usual.

It was a fortnight of sweaty, sickly, exhausting hell.

And the worst thing? When I finally got some respite in the form of my son going to his father overnight I mentioned that I had been a bit poorly

"Oh, everyone's got it," my ex told me, adding "I've been ill in bed since Thursday."

Fortunately for him I was too post-virus weak to react how I would have liked.

So how DO you cope when the lurgy strikes and you are on your own with kids?