Parenting

Hacks for Taking Care of Your Kid When You're Sick as a Dog

Apparently, I have strep throat. This makes sense, actually, since it would explain the feeling that someone has thrust a flaming sword down my throat much better than the idea that someone actually had somehow thrust a flaming sword down my throat without my knowing it. That seems unlikely. Well, maybe if they crept into my house in the night while I was sleeping or something. But . . . It’s possible I’m a little delirious.

Anyway, searing throat pain or no searing throat pain, I have to take care of my son. Who wouldn’t care in the slightest if someone actually had thrust a flaming sword down my throat. He’d probably suggest we join a circus. Which could be fun. Ooh, I’d have to come up with a really cool stage name! I may be getting off track. I think I have a fever.

Where was I? Oh. Right. For stay-at-home moms, there’s really no such thing as a sick day. You can’t stay home from work. You work at home. And your work is a small child who will continue to demand constant attention and interaction no matter how much you want to just curl up into the fetal position and count the spots that have begun dancing in front of your eyes. (I’m up to fifteen so far. They’re so pretty…)

So, what’s a sick mommy to do? Well, here are a few things that have been working for us. And, by working, I mean that we’re both still alive. Which is actually pretty good, considering my head feels like it’s floating inside a balloon three feet above my body. But it isn’t though. Is it? Can you check? Anyway.

1. Call in reinforcements

I’m saying this one first to get it out of the way. For us, there aren’t really reinforcements to call. Our extended family lives on the other side of the country, my husband can’t take extra time off of work (he came home in the middle of the day yesterday because he’s an angel and I said I was dying but that’s about it), we can’t afford to pay for our babysitter to do extra hours. You get the idea. (At least I hope you get the idea. I may actually be typing in Chinese.) But, if you do have people who can come over and help you, now is the time to ask them. Have them hang out with your kid while you curl up in bed. Even better, have them make you a cup of tea and then hang out with your kid while you curl up in bed. If it’s an option for you, do it. People take sick days. It’s allowed.

2. Screen time. OMG, all the screen time.

But, if there’s no one to come to your aid, at least there’s television. Under normal circumstances we have a strict 30 minutes a day screen time policy. But, at the moment, I can’t think why. I’m sure it’ll come to me when my head stops feeling like it’s made out of cotton candy. Mmm, cotton candy . . . Sorry. Put on a movie. Turn on a show. Let him play games on the iPad. Whatever. Curl up on the couch next to him and zone out. The family that zones out together… I don’t know what the end of that sentence is. Really, give yourself a free pass on this one. As long as you’re committed to going straight back to whatever your usual screen time policy is once you feel like a human being again, it’s okay to plonk your child (and yourself) in front of the TV when you’re sick. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

3. Make up games you can play while you’re lying on the couch

Luckily, before I became a total basket case I wrote a whole article about this because I’m also an insomniac and sometimes I’m so tired and just need to sit down for a while. So, click here for activities you can do with your child while lying on the couch. Isn’t it cool how I can turn the word “here” into a link to the article I’m talking about? So it says “click here” and you actually click “here” and … Right. Moving on.

4. Drag yourself somewhere he’ll play by himself

If you feel like you can make it out of the house, it might be worth it to take him somewhere he loves to go so that you can sit down and space out while he plays. At home, my son pretty much always wants my opinion on things. Even if he’s letting me lie on the couch (which is a really big if) he needs to know where his Simba toy is, or how these two Legos are supposed to connect, or what happens in the story of The Three Little Pigs, or why pigs are called pigs. Actually, that last one’s a good question. Why are pigs called pigs? I bet … oh, sorry. Have I mentioned I have a fever? But there are a few (a very select few) places I can take him where he’s engaged enough to play on his own, and where it’s enclosed enough for him to play freely. A playground just for toddlers, a coffee shop with a play space, an indoor playground, places like that. If there’s something like that in your neighborhood, and you can get yourselves out the door, it could be an option.

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There’s no way to explain to your young child how sick you are. He just can’t get it. And, annoyingly, he’s going to be extra clingy because you’re acting weird and he wants you to act regular again. (I want to act regular again too.) But, as long as you’re willing to relax the rules a bit, you’ll be able to get through this. Feel better! Wait, what was I saying?