Do you have fond memories of sick days on the couch when you were a kid, when you’d watch cartoons for hours on end while your mother stroked your hair and helped you sip flat ginger ale?
It just wasn’t my reality.
Now don’t get me wrong. My mum was, and still is, a FABULOUS mother. She kissed all of our scrapes and bruises better, she made sure we ate something from the 5 basic food groups at every meal, she went out of her way to make our Christmas and birthday wishes come true, she helped us with our homework, she read us bedtime stories, she ironed all of our clothes (even our pajamas!), and she never missed an opportunity to embarrass us in public by doing the moonwalk.
But she had no tolerance for my sister and me when we were sick.
And I hated it.
I just never understood why my mother never believed me when I told her I wasn’t feeling well, and how, even after the doctor confirmed I had tonsilitis, laryngitis, or a parasite, she would still look at me with irritation and say, “you’re going to school tomorrow.”
So when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I vowed I would do things differently.
And then I actually experienced what it’s like to deal with a sick kid, and finally understood why I won so many perfect attendance awards at school.
But, after making it through almost 3 years of this parenting gig, I feel like I’m doing a halfway decent job in the sickness department, and I thought I’d share my top strategies for dealing with a sick toddler in hopes that I can help you maintain your sanity during cold and flu season.
Because I’m sweet like that.
1. Clear your schedule. I’d rather give myself an enema than spend an entire day cooped up on the couch, but I quickly learned that dragging a sick kid all over town does nothing but make her more sick and miserable. So when I see the first tell tale signs that my daughter is coming down with something, I load up on groceries, ice cream, and wine, throw my to-do list in the trash, give myself a free pass on doing any kind of housework, tell my husband he’s responsible for his own dinner, and spend the next few days helping Dora and Boots get Little Star back to her friend The Moon.
2. Set-up different toy stations. The more distracted my daughter is, the less time she has to focus on how sick she’s feeling, so I try to set-up different activities for her around the house: play-doh in front of the TV, sensory bins in the kitchen, books on our super comfy, king-sized bed, stickers in her bedroom, the iPad in the den, etc. And then, when I’ve exhausted all of my tricks, I’ll throw her in the bath for a little while before we start the circuit again.
3. Break the rules. During those first couple of days of an illness, when my daughter cries at the drop of a hat and there’s nothing I can do to make her feel better, I throw all of my rules about watching too much TV, spending too much time on the iPad, eating too many blueberry pancakes, and tooth-brushing right out the window. It’s just not worth it, you know?
4. Call a friend. If you’re anything like me, chances are your child will only get sick when your husband is away on business, leaving you with no relief or adult conversation at the end of the day. And while it’s unlikely you’ll be unable to convince any of your friends to pop over for a visit so your sweet, sick child can snot all over them, a phone call can go a long way in helping you feel less alone.
5. Go for a drive. While I’m not a fan of taking sick kids out in public for the rest of the world to catch their germs, going for a drive with some great tunes pumping through the car really helps to reset everyone’s mood.
6. Opt for an early bedtime. As tempting as it is to stay up late to score some well-deserved “me time” after spending 12+ hours watching Dora the Explorer reruns, you will be a much better parent the following morning (or in the middle of the night) if you catch some extra Zs. But before you and your snot-encrusted hair fall into a peaceful slumber, make sure you…
7. Pray like hell your husband doesn’t catch it. Because ain’t nobody got time for that.