Parenting When You Are Feeling Sick

There’s only so much Cocomelon our kids can watch – right? Asking for a friend. Obviously!

I’m definitely not asking on behalf of myself, laying in bed sick and wishing for 24 hours of sleep, while my young daughters wreck havoc on the home to the tune of YouTube Kids selections.

Okay, fine. It is me. I am the one who “taught” my first child her alphabet with the assistance of Super Simple Songs while I was pregnant with my second. I’ve had the not-so-fun gift of hyperemesis gravidarum (severe pregnancy sickness) with all my pregnancies. Plus, I apparently have the immune system of a toddler because I feel like I have caught every cold and bug that has come home from preschool.

Thanks to my years of research on the topic, I have a pretty good four part plan to enact the moment you start feeling off.

  1. 📱Phone a friend

Do not skip past this step just because it’s a little hard. Immediately text family and friends to gauge their availability in case you are out sick for the next few days. Maybe they can come over and help with mealtimes, bedtimes, or getting to and from school. I once had a friend come craft with my girls while I was quarantining with COVID. She brought Pop Rocks, and I still think that was a highlight of their lives so far.

Your friends and family want to help. They want to spend time with your kids. Asking for what you need is not weakness but a great example to set for your kids.

If your friends have their own herd of kids, see if you can drop off for a playdate. This once worked when I had a terrible ear infection and wasn’t contagious. I laid on a friend’s couch while our kids had fun and ate lunch (everyone ignoring my moans of pain!).

What if you don’t have local family or close friends? Well, that is why you joined CECPTA! Post in our Facebook group, and I bet you’ll be able to find someone wanting to find a way to lighten your load. We have all been in this situation and know how tough it can be.

  1. ✅Make an order

Sickness rarely finds us prepared. When you start feeling tired and headachey, it’s time to start planning for the inevitable. Check what groceries you and your family will need for the next few days. It’s important that you don’t skip the “YOU” part of this. Taking care of yourself with healthful foods can help you recover better. (If you need a good recipe, there’s nothing better than a bowl of chicken soup!)

Now you can take advantage of the golden age of instant gratification with a next-day Amazon or Target drive-up order. Bonus points if you have someone else pickup for you.

  1. 💁Try something new

You may be surprised to hear me recommend novelty while you’re just trying to get through the day, but “new” doesn’t have to mean big or complicated. Make it easiest with a playdoh, kinetic sand, or lego set. Let go and let the mess happen. It can be taken care of on another day or by another person.

Less expensive options include shaving cream in the bath, water pouring with cups outside, scissors and tape for older kids. Side note, not from experience, but please watch your kids while entrusting them with scissors. Even your sweetest angel babies will feel the urge to cut their own hair. Again, not from experience. (Twice…)

My recommendation is to grab a few options when they’re on sale and keep them hidden in your closet until you need them. 

  1. 🙃Accept reality

Being sick while staying home with young kids can suck. It’s okay if these aren’t the most memorable, special days. They will survive on Ms. Rachel and cheese strings. Parenting is the most challenging job there is. No parents have perfect childcare, perfect meals, perfect activities… It’s all aspirational. When you’re sick, you’ve got to lower the bar for the day. There is no such thing as too much Cocomelon in 24 hours.

This list may be helpful for the stay-at-home parent with toddlers, but what about parents with infants? Again, your best bet is to have an extra set of hands if possible. In most cases, you can continue to breastfeed if you are already doing so. Bed sharing or room sharing may be more convenient while you recoup. Never bedshare while taking sedative medicine, and probably avoid sedative medication while fully responsible for a child. Be sure to hydrate well, especially if you’re pumping or breastfeeding.

For those who experience chronic or severe illness, Mommies in Need provides childcare so you can receive the medical care you need.

We hope this gave you some good tips to whip out on those tough days. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Are you looking for a community of supportive parents? Click here to learn how you can be a part of CECPTA!

About the Author

Madelyn grew up in Carrollton and still believes it’s the best place to live. When not assisting births as a doula or student midwife, she enjoys occasionally substitute teaching for LISD schools. Her hands are full (at least that’s what everyone at the grocery store tells her) with three girls four and under, but it was her stillborn daughter, Amelia, who made her a mom. She loves deep diving into new hobbies and watching tv with her husband when the kids are asleep.

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