One Sick Mama: Tips for When You’re Sick… with Kids!

Between the kids getting croup, ear infections, some viral bug, and me coming down with laryngitis and now a sinus infection, I have been a bit absent from here recently and I’m sorry for that!

I want to hear from you — what are your top tips for handling things when the parent(s) are sick? I only learned this week that I should have two toothbrushes on standby for when I get sick — it seems so obvious now, but sometimes we have blind spots!

Today, I’ll share my TOP TEN TIPS for when you’re sick with kids, and please share your top tips in the comments (and if you’re a blogger, leave a link to a post you have with other sick tips!)

1. Admit You’re Sick ASAP

The longer that you try to “push through it,” the bigger the fall is going to be. I always pretend that I’m fine and then am totally unprepared for being sick and am not at all productive for the hours I spent resisting.

Start preparing for a sick day as soon as you can. If you don’t end getting as sick as you think, you can always take advantage of your now easier day! Reschedule appointments, premake some simple meals and snacks, pick up any “sick supplies” you may need, and if possible, recruit help.


2. Power Clean

If you have the energy, quickly do a surface clean of the house. Clear counters and wipe them down with your preferred cleaner, do as much laundry as you can, run the dishwasher, and clean the bathroom. Get the important tasks out of the way and kill as many germs in the “hot spots” as you can.


3. Pamper Yourself – Get the Kids Involved

I went to rub some peppermint oil on my feet and… well, I needed a pedicure. I’m usually pretty good for regular home pedicures with Ella, but for some reason it had clearly been awhile. Scrubbing, then having a hot soak in an epsom salt and peppermint oil bath helped me feel a bit better.


4. Throw out your Toothbrush, Change Your Sheets

Don’t surround yourself with the germs that got you sick in the first place! I’ve always changed my sheets and toothbrush after being sick, but I only learned this time that you should actually change both out twice – at the beginning of being sick, and then again once you’re feeling better.


5. Invest in Your Recovery

The difference between money-conscious and cheap? Not spending money where it counts. I’ve totally been guilty of this before, too — not wanting to spend $10 on an over-the-counter cure, or on a essential oil that might help. Even if I can “survive” through the end of my sickness without it, why put myself (and the kids) through unnecessary discomfort, or potentially prolong the sickness?

If you don’t have the $10 or the energy to get to the store? Post to Facebook or ask a friend if they have some leftovers from their last illness. I wanted to make some cold-fighting chicken soup and posted to Facebook asking if someone could please bring me some peppers and ginger and was shocked when three friends responded and offered to drop by — and the one that did only wanted to be paid back with soup!



6. Have the kids join you in the BRAT Diet

BRAT stands for: Bananas, Rice, Apple(sauce), and Toast — it is a pretty standard North American “sick diet.” I personally add soup, gingerale, and homemade “gatorade” to the list, and always crave a good curry to help clear out my sinuses. If you’re well enough, you can add a good green smoothie onto the list, but let’s face it — I don’t even make the “Rice” when I’m sick, I’m not going to gather, chop, and blend veggies when I’m that sick — and I doubt I’d be able to drink it either! (I did, in good faith, buy a green juice when I was gathering supplies for this sickness… it looks really good sitting completely unopened in my fridge at the moment.)

Most kids won’t mind the day or two of bland food, but if you feel guilty not giving them a well-balanced diet for two days, order something in or use a premade meal (either from your freezer or your grocer). Just try to keep it healthy, as junk food can depress the immune system and if they’re not sick already, they’re at least exposed.


7. Low Expectations

I do not homeschool or teach when I’m sick. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t have the presence of mind or patience for it to be a great experience, so the kids and I take it easy.

I used to always feel really “behind” whenever I came back off an illness – but now I am thankful when I take the time to properly recover in a low-stress way. Feeling stressed about being behind does not make me work harder, and stress can actually prolong illness by depressing the immune system. As much as I am sad that I missed out on a “proper weekend,” I’m glad that I spent it recovering and I think I feel better today as a result.


8. Hydrate & Oil

I think many parents and caregivers can be guilty of not drinking enough water throughout the day, but it is never so important as when you’re sick. I love my homemade gatorade and David’s Tea’s Pink Lemonade (served hot) when I’m sick.

Also, I’m not completely holistic and natural, but I do love essential oils for naturally alleviating my symptoms. My sinuses felt the best when I was using a combination of peppermint oil (traced gently ontop of my sinuses and rubbed into my temples and feet) and Tylenol Sinus. I also tried using my Neti Pot but I was so congested it wouldn’t even work it’s way through.


9. Sleep

Do whatever you can to get some rest. TV is a rare treat in our house, so I used it to my advantage this past week — and I have no shame about it! Twice, I cuddled up with Ella, put on a movie, and had a light doze while she watched. I also napped when she napped, and went to bed at the same time as her. Yes, there were lots of things I could have been doing other than sleep, but I am so much more productive (and I feel better!) today after having 10 hours of glorious sleep then when I tried to skirt by on 5 hours the night before.


10. Guilt-free

Don’t feel guilty about being sick and “putting the kids through it.” And, while you’re at it, indulge in some “guilty” pleasures! I want my daughter to see the importance of resting and taking care of yourself, and the best way to teach that is by modelling it myself.

Normally, I like to re-watch seasons of my favourite TV shows, but even that was too much for this wimpy-sick mom, so my indulgences were cup after cup of hot tea, lighting my favourite candles, wearing clean pyjamas, daily soaks in the bath, and cuddling up under warm, freshly laundered blankets.


OK, I want to hear from you? What are your best tips for when a caregiver is sick?


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  1. I try to have a “mommy sick day” kit with canned foods, special projects for the kids, a list of important info for Dad, and an easy schedule (I don’t even THINK well when I am sick). This little kit helps so much. I LOVE your tips!

  2. Great tips! I’ve gradually come to realize that rest is necessary, so now I can sleep/read in bed guilt-free. And yes, essential oils are so good for alleviating symptoms. Eucalyptus and peppermint are go-tos for me in cold season.

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