If there were a guidebook on being a mom, I’m certain that it would contain some very useful information on a variety of topics. From cooking and cleaning to boo-boo fixing and game playing, it would be the definitive go-to guide on how to be the perfect mom.
I’m also certain that there would be no separate section, page, or nary a sentence on what a mom is to do if she is sick.
Why? Because we’re not allowed to be sick. Ever. Oh sure, we’ve all had colds, mild headaches, cramps, or morning sickness, but nothing through which we couldn’t function.
Occasionally though, we get something absolutely debilitating, and we really can’t function. Early last week, I woke up with a pounding headache, body aches, chills, and a fever. Every movement was painful, and I had to be constantly wrapped in a blanket to control my shivering. I just wanted to crawl back into bed and sleep all day. This may work for parents whose kids are in school for the day; but having two small children in the house with me, I had to soldier on. I managed to survive my sick day using these nine tips:
1. Cancel all obligations. Everyone will understand if you don’t bring snack to preschool that day (heck, they’ll even thank you for not bringing it when you’re sick). Appointments can be rescheduled, and lessons and practices can be missed just this one time. It’s okay.
2. Say yes to screen time. Like the good parents that we are, we try to limit our kids’ screen time. In the case of a sick Mommy, though, it can be a lifesaver. Let her watch Disney Junior all morning long while you lie on the couch. That Scooby-Doo marathon – find out what channel it’s on. Your little one may surprise you by monitoring his own television viewing. My four year old turned the t.v. off after a while and actually found some toys he hadn’t played with in a long time.
3. Find some good aps. There are so many easy, fun, and free aps for those of us with tablets, most of which require little to no parent assistance. And the good thing about tablets is that your little one can snuggle right up next to you in bed while she plays. My son would play Kids Match ‘Em on my Kindle Fire for an hour if I would let him. He loves how the pictures on the cards change and that he “wins” every time. Other fun aps are Team Umi Zumi, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Cut the Rope, and Where’s My Water. There’s no end to the free ones you could try out for the day.
4. Hit the web. Many websites offer easy to play preschool games that are both fun and educational, so you don’t have to feel too guilty about letting your child interact with a screen all day. My boys love starfall.com and lego.com, which now has princess and dress-up games for preschool girls. PBS Kids and Disney Junior have easy-to-navigate games, as well as Build-a-Bear, Webkinz, and Hot Wheels depending on your child’s level and interest. Check some of these out ahead of time, and bookmark them on your computer.
5. Pull out a surprise. Stock up on fun little trinkets, books or games when you pass the dollar bins. Keep them handy and pull them out when you’ve exhausted everything else. One of my sons loves the little notepads to use while playing restaurant or detective. Or use a few items from that stockpile you’ve been amassing for birthdays and holidays. You can always replenish it later.
6. Make meals simple. The last thing you want to do when you’re sick is make food. Keep simple things on hand that you can grab for your family – or they can grab themselves. Those Lunchables you were saving for your older son’s field trip? Use ‘em. Those snacks and juice boxes you set aside for outings to the park or zoo? Put them out on the counter and let them self-serve. As far as dinner goes, have your family’s favorite restaurant on speed dial or bookmarked on your computer for on-line ordering, and have your husband or teenager pick it up on the way home. Don’t want to spend money? One word – CEREAL. Everyone loves that they can choose and pour their own, and even my four year old can put his bowl and spoon in the dishwasher. Have everyone pick a piece of fruit, and it’s almost a complete meal.
7. Let messes go. One or two days of letting laundry and dishes and toys and dust pile up is okay. You are more important right now than a clean house. Plus if your family wants or needs something, they will make due. They learn some responsibility without having to hear you nag. Bonus!
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some moms (me) feel it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help, but every mom should have someone she can count on in times of need. If you’re lucky, it’s your mom or mother-in-law, sister, or some other relative who lives close by. Maybe it’s a dear friend or a trusted neighbor who can bring your children home from school or pick up something you need from the store. Decide who that person is and put her on speed dial, too. Just be sure not to abuse this person’s kindness and to reciprocate as often as you can.
9. Teach your children empathy by example. As moms, it’s in our nature to care for everyone in our family when they are sick. Show your children ways they can help a brother or sister when they are sick. Have them help you take soup to a sick neighbor or new mom. Teach them the importance of caring for others and respecting their needs when they are ill. When my six year old got home from school and saw that I was sick, he brought me blankets and orange juice and took his brothers to the basement to play. It was so sweet, and it really helped me a lot!
We all get sick. Some days we can function and press on, but some days it’s just impossible. It’s okay to allow ourselves time to rest and recuperate. With these tips, it just may be a little easier to take care of ourselves and get back on our feet. After all, what’s good for Mom, is good for the whole family.
What tips would you add on how to survive a sick day with kid?