The day starts out as normal. Alarm, snooze, alarm, start coffee, check the weather and then go and wake up the kids. This is what my wife does every morning Monday to Friday. I am a lucky guy. I wake up a bit later and do a second run that takes over once breakfast is over.
But that well-oiled routine can be put on ice thanks to one uncontrollable act of nature. A sick kid. Before even moving them, you can just tell that are not well. You touch them and feel the heat of a fever through their jams. You secretly hope that just getting them up and going will fix all, but you know it won’t. A sick day is looming. Daycare is not going to want a burning hot kid.
Then the brain negotiation with yourself begins. Can I stay home. What work would be missed? Any meetings?
Ever since becoming parents, my wife and I have been pretty good about splitting the days of work missed. There have not been that many over the last few years, so we have been lucky.
This week, we have both taken turns staying home with a sick Charlie. He keeps riding the fever train up and down. He went to daycare, but then back home to sleep it off.
So as a parent, what can you do to make a sick day fun and not 100% rely on the good-ship-Netflix to get the job done?
Here are 10 ways to ease the pain and make a sick day fun.
1. Let them sleep on the couch.
Get them out of bed. Just getting them up, dressed and lounging on the couch is a big step up from the bed of sickness. If need be, get a fresh blanket and pillow and turn the couch into base camp for recovery. If they pass out on the couch, don’t sweat it.
2. Some morning cartoons.
Few things cheer up a sick and irrational child like offering up their favourite cartoon. Don’t overdo it. Set a limit and stick to it. For us, Thomas the Train and Color Crew tend to work for the younger crowd. All my memories of a sick day as a kid involved a special treat of watching TV during the day.
3. Bake some muffins.
Our boys love muffins. So when they want something comforting, I turn into the muffin man. Getting food into their bellies can be hard when they are sick and a muffin will certainly fill them up and give that Tylenol something to soak into.
4. Chocolate milk.
Ah yes, the drug vehicle for us. Our kids hate taking medicine. I mean, heaving it back up on my pants hate. So we do what works. Sneak it into chocolate milk. Works every time. It’s a treat, it soothes their throat and gets the medicine in without a fight.
5. Read books.
We read our boys a lot of books anyways, but spending some extra time reading their faves when sick is comforting. I also will admit I like how they melt into you when they are so tired and unhappy. It’s a parenting moment I will miss when they are grown up.
6. Go outside (if possible).
Fresh air is a great cure. If possible, even if it’s on the front porch, take your sickie outside. It will spruce them up and the fresh air will make them crash even harder when it’s nap time. Plus it is a nice distraction from feeling like ass. Grab the stroller, go around the block once and head back to base camp.
7. Indoor picnic lunch.
Lunch is usually spent at daycare or school with many other kids. It is crazy and loud and not much choice in the food you get. So since you are home anyways, make a fun lunch and have a living room picnic. Because they are not that hungry, you can kind of make what you want to eat which is a bonus.
8. Distract with toys.
For our boys, the new toys always win. If you have something new stashed away bring it out. If one of their old faves has dust on it, revisit it. Get down on the floor and play a game of cars. It gets their blood flowing for mind and body and helps avoid couch sores. It’s easy to let TV be the doctor but good old-fashioned play needs to be mixed in.
9. Bend the rules.
Your kids are sick. They are miserable. They give two shits about the rules at this point. Let them bend a little. Don’t be a hard ass just because you cleaned the house the day before. Let it go. Keep things on a chill level. I am not talking about letting them have a beer, but if they want to eat on the floor or only eat cereal all day, just go with the flow.
Obviously. Nothing heals more than snuggles from mom or dad.
How do you help keep a sick day fun for your kids? What do you remember from your childhood?
Sick days can cause a lot of stress for parents especially when both are working and have to take time off. But remember, your kids have their daily routines as well. It can be stressful for them, even as you see them living like a king on the couch. Keep things calm, roll with the punches and do whatever it takes to get them all better and out the door the very next morning.