Coping with Sick Kids

Winter is upon us and over the last couple of weeks all 3 of my kids have been ill.  Thankfully they have only had minor ailments- colds, coughs etc- but it still places an added stress on the household!!! I am lucky that I don’t work in the conventional sense- I do part time work in a volunteer (meaning unpaid) capacity and so if my kids are sick I can (luckily) stay at home with them without having to worry about sick leave etc -though I have fallen behind on my other work- sick kids take up so much extra time! Here is how I’ve survived (so far) with having a sick kid (or 3!!!!) at home.

  1. Practice barrier nursing

Make sure who ever’s sick isn’t going to spread their germs. Ensure they are washing their hands regularly (after the toilet, before and after eating, coughing, sneezing etc). Give them a few (washable) toys and activities they can play with in their own little space- I cover my couch in a blanket and create a cozy spot for them to curl up and rest, and I try to make sure they don’t have too much contact with the other members of the household.   Ensure they are using their own towel, hand towel and face washer and if you can, wash these daily to prevent others using them inadvertently. Get friendly with an anti bacterial spray and surface cleaner and use them lots!

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2. Have a stocked first aid kit

Maybe it’s because I live on a farm and so have to be pretty self sufficient when it comes to minor medical issues, but I have a really strong belief that a first aid kit is something every home should have.  Even when I lived in town and a pharmacy, hospital and doctor were mere minutes away, I always kept at least the bare minimum in a box for those inevitable times someone needed a bandage, antiseptic or something of that persuasion.  I keep a smorgasbord of medicine  on top of my fridge in a plastic box the kids can’t see into (up out of sight and out of reach); a good cough medicine, children’s pain killers, antihistamine, anti-fungal, bandaids, a re-hydration solution, bandages, an instant ice pack, gauze, etc.  It’s a lot less stressful for everyone when the kids are sick, if you have what you need straight away (without having to rush to a pharmacy).

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3. Have some activities that they do ONLY when they are sick

This will depend on the age of your kids and their interests, but I have a colouring-in book, a few reading books and some little toys that only get pulled out when the kids are home sick.  In theory this will prevent at least some of the ‘I’m bored’ whining  and save at least a little bit of your sanity.  I will often dig into my present box and pull out something new if I am really busy and whoever’s sick has been in bed for a few days.

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4. Make sure they know it’s not a holiday.

One of my boys has an amazing knack for faking an illness so well I get fooled and let him stay home from school, only to discover 3o minutes after the school bus has gone, that he is in fact fine and could have gone to school without infecting anyone else.  I’ve learnt from this and if my children are home sick from school (and aren’t super ill, but just sick enough to be contagious or a bit ‘off’) they have to spend most of their time on the couch or in bed reading.  TV and screen time is in short supply, and if they seem well enough they have to do a bit of school work too.  I’ve noticed less fake sick days since I stopped automatically bundling the kids on the couch with the TV on, obviously it’s not worth the effort if they don’t get unlimited TV time.

5. Be kind to yourself

Looking after someone who’s sick takes that much extra energy and you will do yourself and the rest of your family no favors if you push yourself too hard.  Don’t expect to be able to get everything done, spend time sitting with your sick child and having a quiet cuddle or chat.  If you look after yourself, you will be better able to look after them!

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I know it’s not much fun looking after a child that’s sick; when they are really, really sick they are miserable and you just wish they could magically get better, and if they are only just sick enough to miss school or not be able to get out and about and do their normal activities then they are often bored and a little bit difficult!

What do you do to survive having a sick kid at home?

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