Surviving Days At Home With Sick Kids

We just don’t stop! Having a sick kid home from school means we’re forced to stop.

We just don’t stop! Having a sick kid home from school means we’re forced to stop.

It’s that time of year again. Flu season is upon us! That means not just the flu virus, of course, but every respiratory and digestive viral infection has been let loose in every school district across the continent. The result is that pretty much every kid is going to get sick at least once this season — and, as they suffer their stuffy, pukey fates, we have to suffer right along with them, whether we actually get sick or not. Even if we don’t directly have to survive the wrath of the pestilence our children try to force upon us with snuggles and sloppy kisses, our fate is still plagued by sick days.

And if you work outside of the home, calling in sick to stay home with a sick kid suuuper sucks. It’s not like a typical “call in sick when you’re not actually sick” day. You’re forced to be at the beck and call of a tiny monster whose entire purpose that day is to a) spread as many germs all over you as possible in an attempt to have you join them in their misery and b) need you to give them/bake them/buy them/create for them/sing them/cook them/read them/play them the thing they’re sure will finally get them to feel better (and preferably fall asleep).

Well, I’m here to help you stop wallowing in self-pity on a sick kid day! As it turns out, there are some perks to being stuck at home with a sick kid.

If you know just how to structure that time and find the space, you might actually find yourself looking forward to them. Seriously, it’s completely possible to pack in some awesome self-care when your child is sick and can’t go to school.

We just don’t stop! Having a sick kid home from school means we’re forced to stop. 

When you’re at home taking care of your child (who believes they’re on their death bed despite their fever being barely over a hundred degrees) you’re forced to slow down a bit. Why is this self-care, you ask? You’re probably well aware that 99% of our waking hours are spent rushing around either physically or mentally (or both!). We’re rushing to get the kid ready for school; to get our own teeth brushed; to get everyone fed; to meet work deadlines; to plan the next trip to the grocery store; to schedule that overdue annual exam; to pick everyone up from all the activities on time; to figure out what’s for dinner — and the list goes on and on. 

We just don’t stop! Having a sick kid home from school means we’re forced to stop. 

We may literally, physically be bound to snuggle on the couch and watch a couple hours of The Descendants (or whatever your kid is into these days) completely and entirely focused on our child, ourselves, and how cozy that throw blanket we bought from Costco last year really is. This is a beautiful thing.


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At some point or another during your child’s sick day, they’re going to nap. Whether they drift in and out of sleep or pass out for a couple hours, it will happen — and then? Then, you get a moment just for you. Now, spend this moment wisely. Perhaps you make and sip a hot cup of coffee or tea. Maybe your jam is going to be a quick guided meditation or a nap for yourself! Also acceptable would be doing some straightening around the house, throwing away used tissues, and spraying some disinfectant on your doorknobs. Your little break might feel best if it’s spent checking work emails or voicemails so you don’t feel as though you’re weeks behind when you show up at the office the next day.

Contemplate and spend this time carefully because it’s precious, and it should be used as an investment in caring for you at this moment.

When the kid wakes up, I encourage you to use yourself as entertainment. This may mean turning on a workout DVD and letting your child laugh at how ridiculous you look doing burpees (just me?). I like to turn on a streaming service (like Pandora or the iHeart app) on my cell phone and have a little dance party in the living room. Even if the kid doesn’t join in, I enjoy moving my body and I know exercise will help my immune system fight off the onslaught of bacteria marching its way into my system with every snuggle my child demands of me. This can also be a good time to play charades or another game you and your kid like to play together. Go figure, my 5-year-old is really into the card game War right now, which is something I could play for hours as long as there’s decent music playing in the background.

Finally, and all day long, both you and your child should be drinking lots of warm, cozy beverages. Whether it’s hot tea or cocoa, warm apple juice or a Hot Toddy (for you — not the kid!), get yourselves soothed with a big mug going strong all day long. Drinking warm liquids (even just holding the hot mug!) is helpful for our emotional well-being. We experience a more positive mood, calmer emotional state, and a sense of being grounded when we drink hot beverages — so both you and your kid should be sipping something all day!

See? Sick days don’t have to be all bad. And if you can manage to stay healthy yourself, you might just find yourself back at work feeling even better thanks to having had a day of sweet, sickly snuggles with your little one!  


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