I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how we manage illnesses at home. I’m not talking about the day-to-day care of a sick child but getting through the long drawn-out and emotional day with a sick kiddo at home. It can be tough!
Right now, we are seeing a large number of viral illnesses. Since the fall, it has seemed unrelenting for many families (especially if there are multiple children under 5 in group childcare). Tune into this podcast episode for more information on WHEN to be concerned about back-to-back illnesses and why I believe it’s happening so often now than what we saw pre-pandemic. For now, enjoy my “rules” for how to get through the day!
Rule #1: You don’t have to be stuck indoors.
Weather permitting, you CAN get outside when people are sick. Avoid indoor crowded places or playgrounds to avoid spreading your germs. But, going for a stroll or to the park in an open area where there is not anybody in close contact is good for everyone. Reasons you should avoid this would be if it’s allergy season or cold temperatures flare up symptoms for your child. If your child is an asthmatic, you may also want to monitor allergy triggers and/or pollution in your area that can flare up symptoms. But, if your child is up to it and YOU are, too getting outside can be good for everyone’s mental health and will not harm your child’s recovery. Make sure to take water or age-appropriate hydration if you go outside.
Rule #2: It’s survival mode.
It is 100% OK to break your rules when you have a kiddo who is sick at home. Think about the last time you were home sick. You slept when you wanted, you binge-watched your favorite show on the couch, and you ate whatever you felt (and maybe not a lot). The same will go for your child. It’s okay to break the rules.
For example, we have our usual limits on screen-time; but sick days mean we watch more movies than usual. On sick days, we allow Ryaan to make way more choices on snacks and meals. As parents, you have to pivot when it’s for survival for everyone. It’s okay to break your normal rules and go back to them when your child is feeling better.
Rule #3: It’s okay to offer TONS of safe foods.
If your child has a stomach virus, watch this video – I go over food and hydration in that video. If your child has other viruses (especially a cough and cold virus), they may rely more heavily on safe foods and that is okay. Continue offering their favorite fruits and vegetables, but acute illness is not the time you need to be exposing them to new things. You can if you want, but there will be plenty of time for that when they are feeling better.
Rule #4: Prepare for less sleep BUT hope for the best.
I like to manage expectations as a mom. It helps me reframe and feel less cranky. During times of illness, sleep may be harder to come by, BUT I hope for the best. I know night-time wakings due to fevers or irritability may happen BUT I still hope for the best. If my husband is home and not working, we decide who will be the one who will go in overnight (almost like a mini-call schedule). By managing these expectations, I understand this is not forever and accept this reality as this illness passes. I also always walk into Ryaan’s room with a cheery disposition: “Good morning, sunshine!” I was raised with a mother who did this every morning and I can’t tell you how much it affects their mood in a positive way. Even when you’re tired, starting the day with some optimism can REALLY help. It doesn’t take away the fact that you’re tired but reminds your child that we will get through this together today!
Rule #5: Rest when you can.
Taking care of a sick child is difficult. The lack of rest and stress can impact your immune system. I personally take turmeric milk twice a day the moment Ryaan gets a cough and cold as a home-remedy to prevent getting sick (there’s no modern science to this, but just sharing my traditional home remedy). I try and go to sleep earlier than normal incase he wakes up and I nap when he naps. Prioritize your rest. If you have multiple children who are sick, this may be harder so rely on any help you have to get that rest (a partner, hiring help, or a grandparent who is in good health and comfortable helping you with a sick child). Or, utilize screen-time or self-play time so you can “rest” on the couch.
Please know you are not alone in this illness spree. I find many parents in my office and my followers on social media feel THEIR child is the only one sick a lot, but in reality, it is very common. You’re not doing anything wrong. Kids are getting sick often because these viruses are virulent right now. Make sure to read this article on immune health for more.