How to Survive Sick Days with Kids

This post is from our guest editor Katie Bugbee, the senior managing editor at Care.com.

Your child is sick. Whether it’s an ear infection, nasty cold, flu or stomach bug, day care or school is not an option. Neither is music class or the wildly fun playgroup you (both) look forward to every day. Instead, you’re cooped up inside – a whole day ahead of you – and all your child wants is TV.

Kids Sick 1

Here are some great ideas for how you or your caregiver can survive a sick day with your child – both keeping yourself healthy – and cherishing some of these cuddly moments (without TV).

1. Wash and Scrub. First things first, you need to prevent the other members of the family from getting this bug. And considering we’re all our most contagious before symptoms strike, you’ll want to go through the house cleaning the sick child’s common areas.

In hot water, wash: everyone’s sheets in case of story sharing or morning snuggles, couch pillow covers and throws, towels, lovies, blankies and favorite stuffed toys.

Using disinfectant, scrub: toys, markers, kitchen counters, phones, door knobs, faucets and toilets.

And using a spray disinfectant, sanitize: the remote, computer keyboard and couch.

Kids Sick 2

2. Make cleanliness an aiming-game. Your child will probably be bound to his bed — or your couch. If blowing his nose, practice his basketball shot with a nearby can. Sure, there will be plenty of air balls. But think about the smile on his face when he makes one in!

3. Boost immunity while teaching about healthy eating. Even if you’re not sick, you want to get as much rest as possible to ward off this virus. But you’ll also want to eat foods rich in vitamins and zinc that can boost your immunity as well. Talk about what you’re feeding your child – and why. You can even use this fun healthy food sticker activity as a teaching tool.

4. Play quietly and imaginatively. There are a number of calm activities you can do with your child, when she’s not sleeping. Try creating paper bag puppets. Instead of acting out the roles (too much energy needed), she can describe the story to you – or you to her. She can even recreate her favorite fairy tale using these puppets. Make hand-stamped “get-well” cards for other sick children, and consider dropping – or mailing them to — your local children’s hospital when she’s better. And there are some wonderful easy stamps and crafts she can do in bed – that will inspire her creativity while she’s on the mend.

5. Cherish the down time. I don’t know about you, but considering my kids are often bouncing off the walls wondering “What’s next?”, I find there’s a silver lining to their sick days at home. They’re peaceful, cuddly and sweet. You can use this time to reconnect, talk about school and let them know that you’re always there for them.

What other tips do you have for surviving sick days?

Katie Bugbee is the senior managing editor and resident parenting expert of Care.com. A busy working mother of two, she’s an expert on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.