The Art Of Trading Off


Last week, illness entered our house. It took hold of our twins one by one and then circled back to each of them once more.

My husband Mike and I know exactly what to do when our kids are sick. After more than six years of being parents and having four kids, we have figured out what medicines to use, how much to give, how to hydrate, when a cry is a “sick cry,” who cleans the sick child while the other changes the sheets and at what point they need to see a doctor.

But when your child is only sleeping in 30 minute intervals, and has you awake for most of the night, it can feel like you are in a pressure cooker.

For the first part of the night, we usually have our rhythm. But then this point hits, where we would start to snap at each other and fight about things that don’t even make sense.

Over the years we have learned that it is so important, (especially when an illness lingers), that we communicate with the other person when we feel like we have nothing else left to give.

A few days into our outbreak, Mike was unravelling. In fact, he was telling me about things that were irritating him that didn’t even make sense to me. It reminded me of when I get really bad PMS and my nerves feel raw.

I took charge and told him that I was taking over. I did all of the night waking, medicine administering and comforting. He slept and recharged.

But by Saturday morning, although Mike was back to himself again, I was the one who was crashing. Only for me, it was a physical toll the stress and lack of sleep was taking.

He immediately jumped into action, took over with the kids and let me hide in bed all morning. I knew that the house might be a mess when I emerged, but I was okay with that.

Eventually the days passed and everyone is healthier. Although we each feel a bit ragged, there is this sense of victory that we feel.

If you and your marriage are going to survive parenthood, and yes I am using the word survive, then you need to not only master the art of “survival mode,” but of also “trading off.”

That includes communicating with the other person when you are DONE and avoid picking meaningless fights, or snapping at the other person. This also means that when the other person is in charge, you give up control. You don’t micromanage or judge if other things fall by the wayside.

We all go through it. Having sick kids sucks. But there is something incredibly rewarding when your little one turns the corner, starts smiling again and life returns to normal… at least until the next illness hits.

Here is a video of me emerging from my Netflix cocoon on that Saturday morning…