I have been extremely lucky to have made it through a year and a half of motherhood without dealing with any major illnesses. We’ve had a day of fever and a week of stuffy noses, but not much worse. Part of it might be due to our extended breastfeeding, further passing along immune boosters and extra nutrients. Part of it, I’m more than sure, is the fact that my son has never attended daycare, which I know is generally where children enter into unavoidable cycles of sickness.
However, right this moment, I’m winding down after a day spent with my son at home with a cold. There’s not much worse than a sick child (except maybe a sick husband — am I right?), but at least with a sick toddler there are some things that can make the day go by, and even potentially bring them joy in the midst of it all. I’m no expert, but here are a few of the things we did, and a few things to keep in mind if you’re dealing with a sick day.
Unlimited “Dinosaur Train” (or whatever the favorite TV show is at the moment)
I know people have differing opinions on screen time for children, but I personally think a sick day calls for as much TV as you want. The best part about toddlers is they get very excited by the prospect, but they don’t actually have the attention span to sit through more than an episode or two anyway, even when sick. So you get all the credit for being a cool mom without actually having to sit through too many cartoons.
Make smoothies + popsicles
Even though we make smoothies fairly often (just as a healthy snack that feels like a treat), they are somehow always exciting — for all parties involved. Bonus idea is to freeze the leftover smoothie in a popsicle mold and have smoothie popsicles later in the day — get two moments of joy out of one bit of effort! Nothing is better than a popsicle when you’re sick.
Find a fun handkerchief, and teach them that word
If your child is suffering from a runny nose, instead of irritating it with incessant tissue-wiping, use a cloth. Kids tend to hate having their nose wiped, but by using a real cloth, which feels like a novelty, it can become a bit fun. By the end of the day my son would immediately yell, “handkerchief” as soon as a sneeze escaped — and be excited for me to bring it over. We just use an old burp cloth — something already associated with messes and wiping up spills.
Drink coconut water
If you’re still nursing your child, be sure to keep yourself hydrated. I believe thirst is one of the great sacrifices of breastfeeding a baby. I’ve been thirsty for the last year and a half, and nothing can quench it. The only thing that comes close is coconut water. (I love Vita Coco, which is the closest packaged version I’ve found to the real stuff straight out of the coconut, and I recently found that you can order it in bulk via Amazon Prime for what works out to about $1 each — half the price of buying it in stores individually).
It’s a lifesaver, because coconut water is so hydrating, and it’s high in electrolytes. When your nursing child is sick, he will inevitably want to nurse even more than usual, and potentially even non-stop (or so it seems). This means you need to be sure to be staying hydrated, too, because it takes a toll on your body. If your “baby” is more of a toddler, or older, he can also drink coconut water as a way to stay hydrated, which is always important while sick. It’s a totally natural alternative to fruit juice, it’s high in vitamin C, and it has no added sugars.
Don’t expect to get anything done
One of the hardest and possibly most important things is to not expect to get any of your normal tasks done for the day. A sick child can be very demanding of your time, wanting to have your full attention non-stop. It can be hard if you would otherwise have had the day to yourself for work and other tasks (if your child would have otherwise been at daycare, or with a babysitter like mine). Curb your multi-tasking tendencies and try not to feel bad about the lack of productivity.
Most importantly, remember that it will pass. It might be extremely hard, but it’s only a day or two (hopefully), and you’ll all get through it and be stronger on the other side!
What are your tips and tricks for dealing with a sick day?