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You know it’s coming- the post-winter vacation illness that is going to cause your kids great discomfort, and cause you to miss work. It’s never fun, but it can be more manageable IF you are prepared! (Like I said, you know it’s coming!) So what can you do in advance to make the inevitable sick day (and hopefully not *days*) as pleasant as possible for all involved? As a “seasoned” mom (my kids are ages 20-24) I have amassed a few tips over the years to get you through the darkest hours. 😉
Sick Day Prep
You’ve heard of Murphy’s Law, and one of the laws is “left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.” This is why it’s important to anticipate what you’ll need to get through a sick day. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a work-from-home mom, or a working mom, preparedness is key. Unless the sickness requires a trip to the doctor, you’ll want to have everything you need on hand so you don’t have to leave the house. Not much is worse than dragging a sick kid to the store for medicine and necessities. Your sick peanut will want to snuggle on the sofa, not the shopping cart.
On the off chance you make it through the winter and early spring illness free, this anticipatory sick day preparedness won’t matter. Maybe it will even stave off the inevitable!
You know your kids best, so think about what they will need to feel better quick!
- Fever & pain meds
- Disinfectant spray and wipes; hand sanitizer
- Sore throat lozenges and honey (1-2 tablespoons can ease throat pain- it’s worth a try!)
- Pedialyte or Gatorade to stay hydrated
- Popsicles (that aren’t colored!) to soothe sore throats (these peach froyo pops look delish & are perfect for sick days)
- Vicks vapo rub
- Clean bucket or waste basket, lined with a garbage bag. (UGH. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to this!)
- Plastic tablecloths (Again, UGH, let’s hope it doesn’t come to this!) to cover the floor surrounding your sofa and their bed. If your house is carpeted this is a MUST for flu days. You can get large rectangular tablecloths for $1 at Dollar Tree. If you have carpeting from the sofa or their bedroom to the bathroom, line the entire walkway. Trust me, your gag reflex will thank you.
- Soup and saltines
- Fruit to have on hand during cold & flu season: citrus, kiwi, strawberries, apples, bananas
- Think about other “easy” foods your kids enjoy, like pancakes, oatmeal, applesauce, etc. so you can offer them a few choices. You know how tastebuds are off a bit when you’re sick, the same is true for kids. Applesauce may not sound good, but oranges might. Rice with a little veggie or chicken broth is easy to digest, too.
- Keep in mind the BRAT diet for kids who are queasy: bananas, rice, apples, toast. Easy to have on hand and easy for kids to keep down.
If your child is sick, but not SICK, they may need something other than the usual tv shows to keep them on the sofa all day. If you work from home, or you are trying to work from home, consider having a few new movies squirreled away to keep them occupied while you work. For older kids who can read, a new book in their genre of choice could entertain them for hours. Coloring & activity books, comics and puzzles are also good ideas. What’s great about these items is if you don’t use them on a sick day you can use them as birthday gifts, Easter basket/stocking stuffers or rainy day fun- they definitely won’t go to waste.
If your kids have seen every new movie, have some from the way back time machine on hand. The movies YOU loved as a kid!
- The Sandlot
- The Goonies
- Honey I Shrunk the Kids
- An American Tale
- The Land before Time
- Adventures in Babysitting
- Home Alone
- Mrs. Doubtfire
- Little Rascals
- The Parent Trap
I am not saying you should ignore your kids while they are sick, but if you are trying to work you’ll need some outside assistance and books, movies, puzzles, etc. are great ways to keep kids entertained so you can work for more than 5 minutes at a time.
(Did those movies take you back in time? They did for me. I really want to watch Matilda now!)
Sick Day Survival
If your child is setting up camp on the sofa for the day, be sure to relocate some of their favorite things. Being snuggly makes everyone feel a little better.
- stuffed animals
- favorite furry friend (who wouldn’t want to cuddle with this ^^^ little frenchie guy? <swoon>)
Bend Some House Rules.
This may be a little controversial, and you certainly don’t want sick days to become Fun Days With Mom, but you may need to bend some house rules. If you normally don’t allow your kids to eat on the sofa, maybe have some “clean” food available for them to munch on while they are sick. You can cover the sofa with a sheet to catch crumbs.
If you have other kids at home who aren’t sick, don’t forget to dote on them a bit, too. If you’re trying to keep the sick one quarantined siblings may not understand, so having a few things on hand for them is a good idea.
Increase Your Patience Level.
No one wants to be sick, and your kids would probably rather be at school. Take a deep breath and remind yourself of this:
You’re not going to get as much done today.
You’re just not. No matter how well prepared you are, the minutes you spend catering to your sick little one are going to add up into hours. The fact that you’re getting anything done at all is great, really. I know this is especially hard when you’re working from home and when you have other kids with other needs. It’s one day, and it’s one of those days when trying your best is good enough.
Call For Back-up.
- Don’t hesitate to ask a co-worker to cover something for you- you’d do the same for them without a second thought.
- Have friends run to the store for you if your sick kid needs something.
- Ask neighbors for help with an item or two if it means not having to take your kid out of the house.
- Ask a classmates parent to drop off homework assignments & books (be sure you ask your child’s teacher to gather their assignments in the morning & not at the end of the day.)
- If your other kids have sports, lessons or tutoring that your spouse can’t help with, ask a friend or teammate to pick-up and drop-off. Again, you’d do the same for them!
- If grandparents are local, see if they can pop-in with a treat (or carryout pizza for the rest of you.)
- If you can swing it, order out for dinner. If delivery is not in the budget, have an easy dinner night. This is a great time for “Fun Dinner Night,” when you gather all of the 1/2 empty boxes of frozen snacks and appetizers, make mac & cheese and offer cereal for dessert. Trust me, your healthy kids will LOVE IT.
While you may not be able to devote hours & hours to real work, this is a great time to get caught up on some smaller tasks that can be ignored for a few hours if your sick kid needs you for a bit:
- tackle the sock basket
- clean out the fridge or pantry
- toss old meds
- start a donation pile by going through toys/games/books your kids no longer need
Your conference call may not happen, but at least the socks all have mates now. 😉