Tips for Dealing With COVID in Your Family: The Sickness and Shame

Tips for Dealing With The Sickness (and Shame) of COVID in Your Family

You have taken all precautions that you can… Staying within your “bubble” for the most part. You rarely go out to eat at restaurants indoors and avoid large gatherings.  Masking up when out in public.  Those in your family that can be are vaccinated.

Then, a family member gets congestion, a stuffy nose, cough, fever, or sore throat.  Is it COVID or is it a cold or the flu?

You have a feeling it’s not just a cold or flu and decide to get the family member tested:  POSITIVE.  The adrenaline rushes as a million questions run through your head.  You’re feeling angry that despite your precautions, this has happened.  You feel ashamed that you’re “that family”.  You desperately want to pinpoint where you got it from, all while you may be struggling with COVID symptoms yourself while for family members who are as well. 

Pause.  Take a deep breath.  You got this, mama.

Here are 8 tips to help you be better prepared if COVID strikes your home, and for dealing with it if it happens.  

Disclaimer: I am by no means a healthcare expert, but these are a few things that I learned from having to go through this with my family. 

 Have some at-home test options on hand.

You can pick up at-home Test Iowa kits at various locations around the state, including the Linn County Public Health building.  Click here to find a  location:  Or you can request to have them sent to your home here. Tests can be dropped off at UPS or driven directly to the State Hygienic Lab. The State Hygienic Lab guarantees results within 24 hours of test receipt.  Some stores also offer at-home rapid tests as well. 

Notify school and employers of the exposure and/or positive test result as soon as you know about it.

Write down the timeline of your family members’ symptoms and where they have been.  This will be important for school and work contact tracing. Look ahead and determine which appointments will need to be rescheduled and what activities will need to be missed due to isolation, making the necessary notifications to the leaders of those activities. 

As the reality of what’s happening settles in, you may be feeling anger, shame, and embarrassment. 

Remind yourself that you’re doing a great job and that realistically it’s not possible to 100% prevent your family from catching COVID. Others have been through this too.  If you know someone who has, reach out to them (virtually, of course!) for assurance, guidance, and support. You wouldn’t feel ashamed if you caught a cold or the flu… this should not be any different.  And to mamas who know others going through this, please reach out with support and care and not judgment and criticism!

Give each other grace

You’re about to be locked up with your family for 10 days, and you can’t just “go out for a bit” when you need a break.  Work with your spouse to share chores and alternate caring for the kids so you can each get some alone time.  

Your kids are probably confused and possibly emotional.

Add that to the symptoms they may have, and they are likely struggling. Meet them where they are at.  Explain what is happening to help them understand.  Try and keep things at home fun; pull out games and toys that haven’t been used in a while.  Raid the craft supplies and come up with a fun activity.  Raid the pantry for a baking or cooking activity. And if there is more screen time than you’d usually allow, give yourself grace for this. 

Make time for yourself

Whether that’s taking a bath with some candles, catching a cat nap, settling in on the couch with some tea and a favorite show, you need to make sure that you’re caring for yourself now more than ever so that you have the energy to take care of your family.   

Stop trying to figure out how your family became infected with COVID. 

It’s tempting to want to blame someone… But at the end of the day, this will be useless and not help you recover at all.  However, you may want to let others who you were around at the time you believe you were infected know about it so that they can monitor themselves for symptoms. 

Find the silver lining. 

Hopefully, your family’s symptoms are mild.  After you are all well again, you will have increased immunity to future COVID infections.  If your children are too young to receive a vaccine, they will now have some natural immunity.  

Remember, you will get through this and come out on the other side.  Take each day at a time.  Give each other grace. 

You got this, mama, and you’re not alone.

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Elise has lived in the Cedar Rapids area since she was 6. She lives in Marion with her husband, Chris, and two kids, Avery and Maddux. An engineer from Iowa State by education, she currently works from home in logistics for General Mills, and she loves not having to commute which leads to more time with her family! She stays active by running daily (which allows for her daily audiobook/podcast fix!) and she teaches taproom yoga weekly at a local brewery. She loves coffee, wine, leggings, gardening, decorating/crafting/diy projects, Target, cooking, and is an avid bargain hunter!

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