Last week was a VERY long week, and boy was I glad to see the weekend! Both my girls have been at home sick, so all our routine went completely out the window. With winter officially tightening it’s grasp around us, it feels like we’re being stalked by all those nasty sick bugs. Last week they finally got us!!! My poor girls had a particularly bad bout and I had to keep them home from school for the entire week. As a parent this can mean an awful lot of juggling to get all your normal weekly stuff done as well as a bucket load of sympathy and care for those little sick kids. It’s not an easy job at all, and cabin fever can very quickly start to set in. I thought I’d share some of my tips for getting through it as I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there this winter with a sick little one at home.
Here are some of my tips and activities for kids at home on sick days
- PRETEND PLAY. This can be a good way to get your children to express how they are feeling. Sometimes its really hard to tell ‘where it hurts’ or if they’re feeling tired, achy in pain or nauseous? You can use the puppets or soft toys to teach them when to tell you if they need a sick bucket or something to drink, for example.
- CRAFT. If you’re not the biggest fan of craft then sick day craft can be the easiest to do. Your child will most likely not have huge amounts of energy, so stick to simple, short craft activities. Some good examples are drawing and colouring, activity books or magazines, stickers, Playdoh or simple collages. Sometimes opening up a new box of crayons or bringing out a new book can be just the trick to encourage a little enthusiasm and a smile.
- VIDEO OR SKYPE CALLS. Chatting to Gran or Grandpa whilst sitting under a blanket on the sofa can be the perfect pick me for sick kids. Grandparents are known to spoil their grandkids with extra affection at the best of times, and this will be no exception. It’s a win win for everyone as often kids are far too busy running around to sit down and have a good chat with them.
- AUDIO/TABLET BOOKS. Reading to your children is a great way to pass some time. Chapter books are especially good as you can keep the story going over a few sessions or days. My kids would get me to read a 100 books to them if they were given half the chance. Audio or IPAD books can be really entertaining and can give you a break from being the reader. Some of them have some added activities too which the kids just love. There are lots of free options to download so you don’t need to spend any money, and you could also borrow some audio books from your local library.
- NAIL PAINTING. Little girls love having their nails painted and this be a great little activity to do with them while they’re sitting relatively still. My son wouldn’t be seen dead with his nails pained now that he’s 7 but a couple of years ago he would have loved it too, so don’t knock this activity for little boys either.
- REST. Never underestimate the importance of rest when your children are ill (and yes you can quietly celebrate the peace and quiet when they do). Usually I would NEVER let my kids have a daytime nap (except the toddler of course) because it just means they’ll be up all evening. However when they’re not well, they need a lot more sleep for their bodies to recover, so embrace the day time nap.
- MEDICINE. Try to keep a structured timetable when giving your child medicine, with plenty of warning before it’s time to take it (especially with antibiotics). If they’re anything like my kids, taking medicine can become a HUGE drama. If they know it’s coming and there is a reward afterwards like a story or a small treat (if they’re able to have one) it makes it a whole lot easier to get them to take it.
- STRUCTURE. If you can, try to structure your day so that TV and IPAD time (which is inevitable with sick kids) are broken up by other small activities and rest time. It helps to alleviate boredom and can also allow you to plan some of your own work if you need to (although don’t plan on doing too much).
- GET OUTSIDE. If you are able to go outside then do. Fresh air will do wonders for anyone who isn’t feeling well. Energy levels are pretty low in sick children, so keep outside activities short and simple. Perhaps a little walk to the local park or even just morning tea in the back garden. As they start to feel better, you could collect some sticks and leaves on your trip outside and bring them back to create some craft.
- BE PREPARED. To ride the Panadol (or paracetamol equivalent) roller coaster (as I call it). Children who are unwell tend to go up and down like a yoyo, so you just have to be prepared to ride the wave. Often they pick right up soon after having Panadol, but this will only last a couple of hours before they start to crash again become weak and tired. Be mindful of this when planning your day.
Winter is the worst time of year for sickness and bugs and sometimes it can be quite hard to know when you should be keeping your child home from school and when they’re ok to go. This chart from the NSW Health Department gives you a fantastic breakdown of what signs to look out for. My last bit of advice is to just enjoy all the cuddles because you will get LOADS of them. It’s not often that kids want nothing more than to just snuggle up with Mummy, so embrace it.
If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them.