You may be a parent, but unfortunately, your superpowers don’t exempt you from sick days. From stomach bugs to seasonal flus and everything in between, there will undoubtably come times where you’ll be incapacitated and in need of a day (or two) in bed. But, how do you manage parenting on these days when parenting is a full-time job?
Read on to discover 6 hacks for parenting when you’re sick…
It’s not always possible to anticipate when sickness will strike, but you can have a plan in place for when it does. To plan ahead, you can create a basket or bag filled with age-appropriate activities, special toys, art supplies and games. The novelty of the items in this bag – brought out only when you’re feeling under the weather – should keep your little one entertained for a few hours while you monitor, horizontally, from the couch.
For the times where you can anticipate a few poorly days on the rise, (for example, waking up with a tickle in the throat or a blocked nose) you can stock the kitchen with some easy-to-prepare snacks and meals, and where possible, arrange for some extra child-minding help so you can visit your GP.
It doesn’t hurt to have a trusted childminder in your contact list and handy for an emergency call.
Getting sick is part of life, so when it happens to you, it can be used as a lesson in empathy and wellbeing. You might think that your child is too young to understand when mummy or daddy is sick, but you’d be surprised what being open and honest with your little one will yield. Try to communicate that you’re not feeling so well, so you’re going to need a little help and patience. This kind of vulnerability can help your child to develop their sense of kindness and compassion.
It’s okay to bend your own rules from time to time. Most especially when you’re poorly. Don’t judge yourself for needing all the help you can get when feeling like death warmed up – even if it’s from a couple extra episodes of Peppa Pig. You can still make TV time interactive by asking your little one questions and pointing out interesting things.
You can also switch from cartoons over to other electronic sources of edutainment such as fun Cosmic Kid’s Yoga classes on YouTube, or listening to some audio books together.
When you’re sick, it’s important to prioritise. It’s all about keeping your child safe and entertained while you rest and recover, so don’t bother with all the usual responsibilities like dishes, laundry, elaborate meal prep and other housework that normally consumes your energy. You’re in survival mode, so make tasks like feeding, dressing and bath time as easy and uncomplicated as possible. Your normal routine can commence the minute you’re feeling like yourself again.
There is no better time than when you’re sick to ask for help or to cash in on any offers you’ve ever received – help with pickups, grocery runs, playdates, help with dinner, etc. You can always let them know that you’ll be happy to return the favour once you’re well. If you have any available family nearby, perhaps you can invite them round for a few hours while you get some sleep, or maybe you have a nanny on speed dial whom you can call.
As a parent, it can feel strange putting your needs ahead of others’, but the only way to regain your health is by prioritising your rest. Try to get as much down time as possible and go easy on yourself. Drink lots of fluids, eat what you can stomach, take whatever medication you’ve been prescribed, and ditch any parental guilt you might feel. Taking care of yourself is a wonderful lesson in self-care for your children.