How you can be productive even when you’re feeling like death

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(This post is part of my Productivity Series, which includes: How to train yourself to be productive and How you can have a productive day (even with the kids around).

Recently I’ve found myself having more days where illness and fatigue are catching up with me.

This is frustrating on many levels, no one wants to feel ill! Having to keep a home in order, entertain children and make breakfast/lunch/dinner while feeling like you’re at deaths door can seem like an impossible task.

I have been trying so hard to get my blog off the ground, stock my Etsy shop and write my eBook around taking care of my kids and keeping the house from becoming a pigsty, that I’ve been burning the candle at both ends.

Edit: The eBook is out! Frugal Living for Lazy People is available now!

I know that’s a pretty intense to-do list, it basically invites ‘fatigue flu’! But I do get a little obsessive once I’ve got an idea stuck in my head…

So how have I been coping with feeling awful, starting a blog and keeping the kids alive? Well I’m going to share the tricks I’ve found work best for me, I just hope they work for you too!


When you’re ill, you know from the moment you wake up that today is not going to be a productive day. Write it off from the get go and you’ll feel better by the end, I promise!

Part of the reason it takes busy Mums so long to shake illness off is because we try to keep going just as we were, pushing ourselves just as hard even though we know that’s not ideal.

Trust me, the moment you get up in the morning feeling like death warmed up, cut yourself a break.

Write the day off, literally cross off everything on your to-do list for the day if that’s what it takes. Pick the absolute most important things that simply must be done, then prioritise just those things.

If you’re trying to do thing like cook a three course meal or play tag with the kids, you’re going to end up back in bed before lunch and then you really will be stuck!

You know your limits, listen to them.

Give yourself a break.
                                                                           Give yourself a break. 
2. ‘Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.’

This is a quote from Mark Twain; what he is saying is an excellent piece of advice even when you’re feeling well: Get the big/unpleasant stuff out of the way first and the rest of the day will go much more smoothly.

As I said above, you need to cut down your to-do list when you’re low on energy.

Why not try to get it out of the way as quickly as possible? That way, you can get some rest during the day without constantly worrying about what you’ve yet to do. As a bonus, if you feel up to doing some of the less important things from your original list later on, you’ll feel extra accomplished!

You've got this!
You’ve got this!
3. Don’t try to hide how you’re feeling from the kids

One common mistake parents, particularly Mums, make when ill is to try to act normal in front of your children.

We all want our children to think we are invincible but it’s simply not possible. Personally, I’d rather my kids know I’m only human but know without a shadow of a doubt that I’m trying my hardest anyway.

Don’t be afraid to just tell them you are feeling rubbish and that today is going to be a quiet day. Chances are they will want to take care of you! Gray always goes to his Doctor kit if i’m sick, I usually end up with a bandage somewhere. (So adorable!)

This is also a good conversation to come back to during the day if you need to ask them to quiet down, works like a charm! *wink*

4. Make it a movie day!

If your kids are going to be at home with you all day, announce that it’s going to be a special day! After you’ve already let them know you’re not up to the usual activity level, why not try to turn it around and make it something fun?

Get them to pick out some of their favourite movies and then offer up their favourite thing; cuddles! All kids love the opportunity to have Mum or Dads undivided attention, and cuddling together while watching a film is a great way to do this.

For the in-between moments pull out some quiet, unsupervised activities such as colouring, if you’re lucky they will entertain themselves as much as possible, letting you have maximum rest opportunities!

Don't worry about the diet either, your body needs fuel to beat the bug!
Don’t worry about the diet either, your body needs fuel to beat the bug!
5. Don’t worry about dinner

There is nothing wrong with having a pantry day. You can have beans on toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want, as long as it’s not every day, it’s not the end of the world!

Your children won’t see you as a failure if you don’t cook them fresh vegetables, I promise, in fact they’ll probably be thrilled to have oven fare! Making sure they are fed is your priority.

Giving them only the freshest, organic five a day is an admirable goal but just not realistic on a sick day. It won’t hurt them to have a slightly less healthy menu every now and then, I promise.

6. Finish the day right

After the children are in bed, you might be tempted to try and get more done, or you might feel like putting on the TV and vegging out. Both of these are understandable, but don’t forget to look after yourself tomorrow.

Most illnesses last more than a single day. You may not want to have a ‘do nothing’ day twice in a row so you will want to do everything you can to start feeling better.

Get an early night.

This number one piece of advice is also the one most commonly ignored. Sleep helps you heal faster! I’m pretty sure that’s a medical fact they teach us in primary school! You may feel cheated out of your already unproductive day by going to bed at 9pm, but I promise you will thank yourself tomorrow.

A hot bath is a guaranteed boost when feeling rubbish.

Having one before bed helps your muscles relax, the steam helps your sinuses to clear and your head to feel less packed with cotton wool and nothing helps you sleep better than being warm, clean and relaxed!

kitten, cat, sleep, rest, happy, relaxed

So there we have it!

My personal tricks for surviving a sick day, especially when you’re home alone with the children. I hope these help other parents feel better a little quicker!

Don’t forget, if you would like more tips on productivity, why not check out my post on training yourself to be productive? Or you can find some tips for being productive even with the kids under your feet over here.

A Cornish Mum
Laura's Lovely Blog
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

20 thoughts on “How you can be productive even when you’re feeling like death”

  1. Great post. I try a lot of these things anyway and my family are great. I have serious chronic illnesses so every day is hard to get through but having the kids understand and learn to pitch in is half the battle. We love our box sets and cuddles in the evenings. ?

  2. I am definitely guilty of a couple of these! I never cut myself a break, I keep going like normal which is incredibly hard when you’re not 100%. I’m at uni as well as blogging, having 2 children and a house to look after, not to mention all my uni work and trying to write a book! I run myself ragged most days! One thing I don’t do though is hide from my boys if I am poorly, they have seen me being sick, I tell them when I have a bad back or a headache and he now knows that I can’t do everything if I am not well e.g. If I say I have got a bad back then he won’t ask for a piggy back ride round the garden and he is only 2 so he has a good grasp nowadays 🙂 Great post I loved reading it. Us mums definitely need to cut ourselves some slack sometimes! #picknmix

    1. Thank you! And my goodness you sound busy! Good for you, that is incredible, I am seriously in awe of Mums who do all that and go to Uni on top, keep up the good work! xx

    1. Please do let me know how it goes! Sometimes ‘me’ time is the hardest thing to master if you’re used to always being on the go or taking care of everyone else xx

  3. These are some great ideas, I’m awful for putting things off but your right get the worst thing out of the way. I always find it hard to cut myself some slack. Thanks for linking to #picknmix

  4. These are great tips! I always tell my teens if I am having an off day,with two slipped discs I can have a relapse and need a day in bed. They are pretty good , they know I must be bad if I am asking for help, us mums do just keep going, especially when we are lone parents, we just have to dont we? #KCACOLS

  5. I’m really sorry to hear that you are feeling ill and fatigued. I have to admit I’m so rubbish at ‘pacing myself’, probably because I feel poorly most days! Allowing yourself to be poorly sometimes instead of constantly pushing through is very good advice, especially for the worst days. I really hope you are feeling better soon. #KCACOLS

  6. Great post, I always try to keep on going even when I’m feeling run down. Most days I will call it quits early evening and try again the next day if it gets too much though! That’s after still trying to do it all during the day though.
    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
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