Saturday, 31 January 2009

The truth about man flu

I believe I have stumbled across a number of truths to add to any research being done into man flu.

It’s not actually man flu, it’s non-mum flu

Before I was a mum, I would be ill for days. I would lay up in bed with DVDs, books and magazines and a box of tissues. If possible, I would get someone (hubby, parents, housemates) to go and buy lots of soup, fruit juice, coke, ice cream, custard and bananas. If anyone else was around and not ill, they would be called upon to bring me the various food and drinks at regular intervals. Otherwise, I would crawl down the stairs and do it myself. I used to be ill frequently, and for considerable periods of time (often coinciding with a break in work – and conveniently releasing me from any housework duties).

My (single, childless) sister will still do this, though she tends not to ask for others’ help, unless she really has to. But she’ll happily stay in bed all day, watching TV and so on.

My mum (yes, I know, she’s still a mum, but we’ve all flown the nest and she has no-one to look after, other than when she’s looking after R), will also take to her bed quite easily these days.

It’s sort of our fault (don’t hit me!)

Having had some times recently where we have all been ill, and I’ve been the one running around doing absolutely everything, I’ve noticed that, if both hubby and I are ill, I will still do the essential housework tasks (unless I’m writhing around in agony and really cannot move).

One night recently, I’d been feeling like I was coming down with something and thought I was getting what hubby had had a few days before (the days when I did all the childcare, all the shopping (with child in tow), all the cooking and all the cleaning, and even walked the dog, getting my sister round for half an hour to watch R while I did so). When I mentioned this to hubby, he asked whether I would prefer him to tidy the kitchen or put R to bed (of course, he couldn’t possibly bathe her as well as walking the dog, because that would be too much for any human being to cope with in one night). I chose tidying the kitchen, because reading stories isn’t too much hard work, really.

Of course, on returning from the walk, hubby suddenly realised that he was ill too, and would have to go straight to bed. Without tidying the kitchen. Or the living room (which hadn’t been offered, because no-one realises that I tidy it every evening before going to bed; presumably the housework fairies do it. And, of course, I couldn’t leave it undone, because I would only have to deal with it in the morning. So I tidied the living room and the kitchen. And put a load of washing on.

And there is the problem. If we’re well enough to do the washing-up, tidy living rooms, and do whatever other domestic tasks we consider essential (in other households, this might also include preparing packed lunches, getting clothes ready for the morning, etc.), we are clearly not ill (in the eyes of the non-mum). Because they can leave it. They have no guilt.

So… ladies, the only way to prevent the spread of the man-flu virus is to take to your beds when ill and leave all the housework to pile up. Are you up to the challenge?

I really don’t think I am.


  1. God, I just couldn't do it. Lie there in bed, knowing that dirty dishes are flowing across every work surface; laundry oozing out of the basket; cat hair forming drifts across the hallway. It's enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. Oh, no, hang on... that's what it's like in our house anyway.

  2. We have clumps of dog hair absolutely everywhere. R suggested that I could lie down under the dining room floor to sleep (when were playing a game - not because I'd had too much wine, I should add) and I would have rolled on the floor laughing, only it was too dirty. Most people would probably consider our house a tip, but there are just some things that I find need to be done, otherwise it gets completely out of control.

    Anyway, I was shamed today, as I felt much iller and C did loads of cleaning and hoovering and looked after R for most of the day and I had a really long bath and then sat and chatted to my (ill) sister for an hour.

    (Oh, and, in case you check your blog-mail as infrequently as I do, you have mail.)

  3. This sounds so familiar... were you here yesterday?

  4. This sounds very familiar. Read this:

    I shall take your advice and stay in bed next time I get poorly.

  5. Susanna: Hmmm, seems it may be familiar to lots of mums. I say we stage a walkout. Though I did find out that I do a lot less than I thought I did (and since C read this post, he has pointed out many more things I don't do that he does), recently, so it probably wouldn't all completely collapse if I did.

    HOM: Yes, definitely do it. It will be practice for when he has to be main carer during your adventure (if you get to go, touch wood, fingers crossed, etc. etc.).

  6. I have taken to doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING when I don't feel well. It dawned on me a year or two ago that the mess is there regardless. If I'm well, it piles up. If I'm ill, it piles up. If I shut the bedroom door and ask for soup I don't see it and I get soup. Then when I get up I ask for help.
    Specific help.
    It seems to work, especially if I don't do it when I'm an angry frame of mind but more when I'm grateful. More flies with honey etc.

  7. Mothership: sounds like you have is sussed. The specific help thing is definitely a good idea. C has told me in the past I shouldn't wander around sighing and stomping because he hasn't noticed that the washing needs putting on or the dishwasher needs emptying or whatever. If I say 'Can you put the washing on today; I don't have time.' and also add 'You need to put the pile in the top drawer; that's the whites; then put one blob in; then press the cotton button, that's the T-shirt, twice; then press the drying button three times, so it's on iron dry.' then he'll be very happy to do it.

    The other way round and I'll get really annoyed. For example, if I'm in the middle of doing something and he says, 'I've put a pile of things here that need to go up to the office and a pile of yours and R's clothes that you left on the sofa here. Take the office pile upstairs and put the clothes either in the laundry or away.' I'm inclined to shout something like 'Perhaps you can ask me when I'm not already running around like a blue-arsed fly!' or 'And why can't you do it yourself?'

    And you are so right about not asking/telling when in an angry frame of mind. Quite often I bottle it up while I'm angry with the plan to calmly ask for whatever it is a few hours later. But then I tend to forget. I should have a notebook or something to write things down in.

    As I said at the start of this particular ramble, sounds like you have it sussed.

  8. You're right. We're our own worst enemies.