When minor illness spreads through a household, it can mess up your schedules, plans, and priorities for weeks. It’s so hard to see a child be sick with a cold or the flu, but it’s also hard to have a healthy and active child when you are so sick that all you want to (or in some cases, all you can) do is stay in bed.
My daughter was around 3 months old when the first familial illness hit our house. By the time she got sick, this virus was making its way through the day care. We were clueless first-time parents and could tell that she was fussier than normal, but the physical signs of the flu didn’t show up for a while. I had a friend visiting from out of town and before the end of that weekend, our baby and both parents were all knocked out with this virus. It made for an interesting visit for my friend (whom thankfully made it through the plane ride and into her own house before she got really sick). After my friend left, we got so sick that we couldn’t move from our beds without vomiting or passing out. My daughter was starting to get better but was thankfully still sleeping a lot. We panicked and called our parents to see if any of them could come help. The closest set of parents was four hours away and had to go to work. We decided that we were going to have to learn how to be sick and have a sick baby sooner or later, we might as well learn then.
Then we were healthy for two years with the exception of minor colds and the occasional fever that usually didn’t affect all of us at the same time.
This year, it’s different. My daughter has gotten sick a number of times and we’ve caught the illnesses also. We’re finishing a round of strep and coughs that are ending with me having bronchitis and a cracked rib. This current round of illnesses has thankfully come at a time when our travel plans and extracurricular activities have been at a minimum level. The Easter holiday and school spring break schedules have put a lot of our weekend classes on hold for the past couple of weeks.
It’s always hard to have an active, needy, toddler when you feel so bad. There’s never a right answer for how to manage, but here are some things to think about (assuming these are normal everyday colds and flu-type illnesses. When a true emergency or chronic illness occurs, I know that all rules and plans are subject to change). Consider these questions when you are trying to figure out how to entertain your child while healing yourself.
- Who’s the sickest and how sick are they? Do they need someone to take care of them while at home? Can that care be given by a family member or family friend if you are too sick or unavailable to stay home?
- If your kid is healthy and you’re sick, consider what you need to get better while still entertaining your child:
a) Can you still take your child to T-ball practice and sit in the car and rest while practice takes place?
b) Can someone else take your child to daycare or school so that you don’t have to leave the house?
c) Are you so sick you are unable to move away from the bathroom or bedroom for too long and need some help with child care?
d) Is one day of your child watching three movies going to hurt him in the long run if you get to lay down and rest? If you want, make watching movies a reward for doing something to help you out around the house while you’re sick.
- When you go to the drugstore to pick medicine for yourself, is there a toy, craft item, or magazine that you could purchase to entertain your kid for awhile while you take it easy?
- Does your child like to read? Reading is a great quiet activity if your kid can read for an hour or so at a time.
- Cereal for breakfast and lunch for one day is okay. It’s easy, requires no cooking and unless you have a toddler, probably pretty mess-free. Splurge and have pizza delivered. You don’t have to get out of your pajamas to answer the door.
When you’re sick and you need to get healthy, you have to prioritize taking care of yourself. With a little planning and some ingenuity, you can entertain your child while you rest also. It might not be the best rest you’ll ever get, but you’re a Mom and used to not getting enough rest anyway. What do you do to entertain your child when you’re too sick to interact too much with them? Share your ideas in the comments.