Over the Easter holidays, I’ve slept in, stayed off the computer at night, read during the day, and watched movies with the kids because they wanted me too.  I wanted to too because on the first day of the holidays I woke up with a miserable cold that hung around the whole of the holidays. Apparently this phenomenon is called leisure sickness.

When the kids got their holidays I breathed a sigh of relief and my immune system decided to take a break too. I’m not totally sure why I sighed with relief when faced with the high task of caring and entertaining the kids including my nearly all grown up autistic for two weeks but I guess I liked the idea of unstructured time without the morning rush and organization that is required when the kids are at school.

A Professor of organisational psychology once told me leisure sickness usually happens to people in really pressurised jobs. I’m not sure he was referring to motherhood and full time carers but heah, what could be more pressurised than entertaining and caring for kids, including one that requires care 24/7 when schools out?

He explained people suffering from leisure sickness typically had a stressful job and they simply couldn’t switch off (I know that feeling too well) which triggered a whole host of symptoms. “Your immune system is stimulated by the pressure, so when you have deadlines your body knows you can’t get ill. When you take a break your immune system just thinks – no more pressure. I can get sick now.” He found headache and migraine were the most common ailments for weekend sufferers, followed by fatigue and muscle pain. During holidays, they often had cold and flu-like symptoms.

Ahhh…so that’s what happened me! In other words when the pressure was off my adrenalin pump stopped pumping and so a biological process kicked in to repair and restore my body leaving my energy levels low and our planned activities in question. I wasn’t fit to do all we had planned to do so the plan had to change from ‘busy and go’ to ‘easy and slow’ and now as the holiday draws to a close I’m glad. Isn’t that what holidays are for, to relax and chill instead of running the risk of blowing a gasket?

We did manage to get out for a few beach walks, thanks to the good weather and there was the odd drive out with a promise of a treat at the end of it but mostly it was about staying put. The kids turned their attention to forgotten toys, books and creating things with art and various materials. There was some time spent on digital media too but overall the kids contented themselves and tried to cheer me up with homemade lemonade.

According to the professor I could have avoided getting the cold if I had ignored that feel good feeling caused by the reality of not having to rush for the next couple of weeks, beat the clock and making sure everything is in order for the next day. Instead it seems we should all have carry on as normal, sticking to usual pattern of behaviour, even on holidays and at weekends. Get up at the same time, have meals at the same time and complete our usual chores. Fortunately or unfortunately, with kids in tow, I’m not that rigid. If I feel a well earned break is coming on I sigh with relief. I just wish my immune system hadn’t heard me.