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Making the Most of Sick Days

We all do everything we can from preventing our kids from getting sick in the first place—antibacterial wipes, tons of hand-washing, flu shots—but, as we all know, our kiddos will probably still going to have his or her fair share of illnesses. In fact, young children can have as many as 10 colds a year, which can mean lots of sick days—for all of us.

So what do we do to keep them entertained while they’re ill—and what do we do for us, when we parents invariably pick up the bugs our kids have had? I talked to “New Mexico Living” about some ideas for easing this (unfortunate) downtime.



There is a good chance your kids will get sick— specially during the fall and winter. As the weather  gets colder, they’ll spend more time inside with other kids, increasing their chances of illness. Their immune systems are still learning how to get stronger, but the good news is that, with every teeny cold, they build up some resistance. Still, each one takes its toll—on them, and on the rest of the family, too.

Most often, daycares, preschools, and schools have guidelines (any child who has vomited within 24 hours,  is running any sort of fever, or has an unexplained rash, for example)  needs to stay home. Adhere to the rules, even if your kid says he or she feels OK.

So! Your kid is home today. What do you do?

Go for the familiar games. It’s not the time to introduce hard memory games or something brand-new that you know will be frustrating for cranky kids. Things that they have already mastered and know they’re good at are much more satisfying, all around.

Look at family photo albums. Point out baby photos of your kiddos, explain which relative is which, remind them of trips and memories. With older kids, you can go deeper into family lore, and ask them to help organize pics.

Get a (cheap) new toy. When you hit the drugstore to get your little one’s prescription filled, grab an inexpensive (but never-been-seen-before!) game or toy. That will jumpstart some entertainment and interest…at least for a little bit.

Go digital. Yes, we totally talk about how screentime isn’t the best time for kids. This? Is not that time. It’s OK to let them veg with their favorite movie from Netflix, or a brand-new one from iTunes (“The Secret Life of Pets” is available to rent tomorrow—just in time for sick days).

Head outside. It seems the opposite of what they or you want to do, but some fresh air and vitamin D from the sun can only help cooped-up kids. Go around the block (with your kiddo bundled in a stroller) or hit the neighborhood park for a few minutes. You’ll know if your sickie isn’t feeling the vibes and when it’s time to head home.

Last, but not least…you’re gonna get what your kid has. It’s just a matter of time. So call on your family, your friends, your sitters—often, parents don’t want to ask for help, but everyone really does want to give you relief, and this is The Time to do that. If they can take your now-healthy kid for an hour or two while you rest or go to the doctor and take care of yourself, you will only be helping your family.

What are your sick-day tips?

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