My youngest just started daycare 6 months ago, but she has been home sick at least 10 times in the last 6 months. Not counting the holidays, that’s an average of 2 times per month. Between Covid, and the usual flu season, I am constantly dealing with runny noses and coughs and fevers.
As I’ve mentioned in my other posts, I work from home 40 hours a week and I report to an actual employer. Every time my daughters are sick, I cringe at the fact that they have to stay home. I hardly get anything done when they are home. During days like that, I need all the survival tips for working moms on how to handle sick kids at home!
Is it still possible to get work done while taking care of a sick kid? Yes, it does, but just like everything else, it requires some planning.
On some days when I’m just not feeling up for it, I take sick days and devote my full attention to kids. However, it’s just not possible to take so many days off. My vacation days are limited after all. So, on days like that, I have to bust out all the tricks that I have to make my kids happy and comfortable.
Here’s a guide on what to do when your kids are sick and have to stay home. I hope you find some useful tips to survive and some clever ways to entertain a sick toddler!
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1. Make sure your medicine cabinet is well- stocked
I usually make sure that I have at least one bottle of Kids Tylenol, cough and cold medicine, and sore throat pops in my medicine cabinet. When my kids are sick, the last thing that I want to do is drag everyone into the car for a visit to the pharmacy.
The other alternative is to have access to an Amazon Prime account. Did you know that the Amazon Overnight Delivery service now enables Prime customers in some markets to order stuff at midnight and have the packages arrive at your doorstep overnight? We live in Philadelphia and we are one of the lucky cities to have this feature. It is SO convenient. I would just add the things into my cart, order the medicine before I sleep, and it is delivered by 9am the next day.
Here are some of the kid’s medicine that I would recommend. As a mom of 2 young daughters (currently age 2 and 4), I have tried a lot of products on the market and these are my favorites:
The Zarbee’s Child Natural Cough Syrup. Whenever Amazon runs a sale on this, I make sure that it is on my shopping cart. Just know that I usually do not stock up on medicine because these things have expiration dates, but the Zarbee’s Child Natural Cough Syrup is like my holy grail. My kids are willing to take them, cough less and sleep through the night after taking them.
I have not tried the Zarbee’s Naturals Children’s Sleep Liquid with Melatonin Supplement but I have heard they are amazing if your kids are sick and you just need them to sleep a little easier.
The other product that I would highly recommend is the Little Remedies Sore Throat Pops. These are made with real honey, and my kids love sucking on them because they are just like lollipops.
2. Prepare the kids’ bedrooms
When my kids are sick, they tend to nap a lot. I make sure that their rooms are well stocked with tissues, a small trash can for dirty tissues, and a humidifier. The humidifier is especially important because it helps with congestion and stuffy noses. The added moisture in the air helps to ease congestion and calm a sore throat.
That being said, I do whatever I can to make their rooms comfortable so they can nap longer, which allows me more time to work during the day.
In our house, we just use a cool-mist humidifier. According to the American of Pediatrics (AAP), vaporizers can cause burns in your child if they get too close to the steam, so this is what we are using now.
3. Find clever ways to entertain your child who is home sick
It is hard enough to entertain a child even when they are not sick, so let me tell you that entertaining a sick toddler at home is not easy! Here are some of my favorite activities to do with my kids when they have to stay home:
- Take out all the look and find books that we have (like “Where’s Waldo”). My daughters can self-entertain themselves because they get a kick at finding hidden things.
- Look at old pictures. This is such a simple activity, but they love looking at old pictures of themselves as babies. It makes them happy to think about the good times and this helps with distracting them from their sore throats or stuffy noses.
- Sensory play. We have two kinetic sand sets, but I usually reserve them for special days and days like these because I know they love playing with it. They can sit and play quietly for a good hour each time. Check out my other post on top-rated toys for toddlers that will be sure to sustain their interest!
- Another sensory play is the play dough. My daughters never get bored of this. Every time I run out of store-bought play dough, I usually make my own playdough with this recipe. It’s really simple to make, and feels just the same!
- Coloring and drawing. This is a great activity especially if kids are not feeling up for much movement.
- Play doctor. Set up a station or doctor’s office, and let your child play doctor. You can even participate by being the doctor and examine your sick kids. My daughters love it when we switch roles so that they can dispense some shots and medicine for my fake tummy ache.
- Allow special treats like the ice-pop and milkshake. Check out this recipe on how to make a home-made ice-pop.
- Allow more screen time. I am sure most parents like to limit screen time. However, when my kids are sick, I am all for screen time. Even as an adult, I love eating and laying in couch to watch TV when I’m sick, so I’m sure the kids love it as well. I am PRO screen time during times like this because all I want to do is make my kids comfortable.
- Are you running out of ideas and activities to entertain your sick kids indoors? Take a short walk. As long as your kids are able to move, I think it would be good to bundle them up and go out for a short walk. The fresh air will provide some comfort, and it helps to break up the day as well.
4. Hydrate the kids
Make sure you get those fluids down when the kids are sick. You can make this fun by switching out the cup and use an extra large glass or mug, or use a crazy loopy straw like this here. It would also help if you add a splash of something (e.g. grape juice) or lemon to mix it up.
5. No time to cook? Use the slow cooker
Trust me, cooking will be the last thing that you want to handle when your kids are home sick. Invest in a slow cooker or the 7-in-1 pressure cooker. With both, you can just dump all the ingredients into the pot and let them simmer into completion.
6. Cuddle with your kids when you’re working
This is made possible with technology. I have 2 monitors set up at home at my work station. Whenever they get bored of their activities, my kids love to join me at my work station. Sometimes they just want some love from mama when they are sick. I allow them to sit on my lap and stream a cartoon on one monitor, while I work with the other screen. This is multi-tasking at its finest!
7. Keeping it together
Mom, don’t forget to get enough rest and practice self-care. Wash your hands regularly, sanitize and load up on wellness-tea that’s loaded with germ-fighting ingredients. You need to protect yourself from the harmful germs because getting sick at the same time is not fun at all.
Do you have any survival tips for working parents when they have sick kids at home? Or do you have any genius ideas and activities for kids who are home sick? I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below!
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Other related post: Can You Survive Working From Home Full-Time With A Baby and A 3-Year-Old