When you have a large family and one person falls ill, you just wait for everyone to crash like dominoes until the germs run through the entirety of the house. That occurred, but it took nine days.
It sounds crazy, but cancelling every play date and avoiding public places so we wouldn't
share our germs actually turned into a great time to focus on simplicity in parenting. It led to realizing that being around my kids near constantly ensures everything in quantity but nothing in quality if I don't work at it.
Here are some simple lessons I learned during our stomach virus time:
Big kids always need to be rocked. They will reveal everything in the world to you in a recliner with your arms around them.
Listening is hard but amazing. I now know more about the video games Sam enjoys than I ever wanted to, but being receptive to hearing about his obsessive interest made him talk about deeper questions he had, something that isn't always easy for him.
A few kind words are everything, even if it's just telling one of the three year olds, "Thanks for at least aiming for the toilet that time. I'm proud of you."
We love our play dates, our friendships, our familiar routine, but slow is not a bad pace for us, even when everyone is well. I have to remind myself constantly that that's okay, it's actually what D and I work for. We want meaningful, not just a full schedule. We want intentional, not busy. Sickness is always the reset button that helps me assess whether we are living out our values or just going through the motions, trudging through the day. The latter is not my definition of simplicity.
We make time for what's important, and important to me always equals deeper intimacy and communication, even though I am a lover of checking items off the to-do list. It's about balance, but I'm going to swing in favor of less with more depth than more but shallow every time.