Last Friday my son spiked a fever of 103.1. He woke up the following day with a horrible cough and inflamed red eyes. A few days later he tested positive for the flu. He's been sick for exactly a week now, and to be totally honest, it's been pretty stressful and hectic around these parts. From the last nine years as a parent, I learned that surviving your kids' sick days requires a lot of patience, a decent supply of medicine, and treats. Yes, lots and lots of treats. My kids have been sick on and off since September. They've had lice, colds, ear infections, sinus infections, the flu, stomach bugs, and food poisoning. All of that in just five months. So believe when I say, I know what I'm talking about. I have experience, dear reader.
I am a full-time working parent. I leave the house at 6:00 a.m. and I don't get back home until 4:00 p.m., at which point I proceed to work from home. My job offers only five paid days off, so taking a day off every time one of my children has a runny nose is not an option. And when my kids do get very sick, the days and nights seem unmanageable. I am constantly worried about them while I am at work, and I end up staying awake most nights with them when I'm home. My anxiety and their illness usually make it impossible for me to sleep, which makes for a very exhausting day at work. My survival consists of a strong support system and, well, wine. Also, I like to sleep in on the weekends, if the kids aren't sick during the weekend, of course.
When I am able to take days off work to stay home with my kids, I survive by letting the kids basically lie on the couch all day and rot their brains watching television. Oh, and a steady supply of candy. Definitely candy. In other words, when my kids are sick I relax the rules in our home and let them dictate how they spend their time during the day. I've learned a long time ago not to argue with a sick toddler, and that it's better for everyone involved to just go along with whatever the sick child needs or wants. It works for us, anyway.
This week, however, was extra difficult. I was extra worried because my 3-year-old had the flu, and you know, the flu is super dangerous this year. But I did vaccinate my kids, so my son's flu was, fortunately, milder than it could have been. Nonetheless, I was a worried mama all week, so I decided to ask other moms how they handle sick days, too. Here's what they had to say:
"I let my kids watch unlimited amount of TV. I'm usually pretty strict with television time, but when the kids are sick I let them watch the whole day. It's better than a cranky pre-schooler."
"Drug-induced prolongated nap times. I'm kidding. Or am I?"
"I nap when my son naps. Usually the naps are longer when he's sick so I take advantage of that and sleep, too."
"For some reason my kids love building forts when they are sick, so we build a fort and hang out in there pretty much all day. My daughter brings her dolls in there and my son brings his cars. We eat lunch under the blankets and watch the iPad."
"If I need a break, I can call my mom and she'll come babysit for a few hours so I can relax a little. I usually just end up running errands or doing laundry, but it's a huge help when she comes over. Sometimes I can even squeeze in a manicure just to do something for myself."
"This probably sounds crappy, but I love when my kids snuggle with me when they are sick. They never want to cuddle when they are healthy, so the key to surviving sick days for me is taking advantage of their desire to cuddle with me. Hey, if they are giving it out, I'm going to take it."
"I don't use tissues for my son, they run out and they rub his nose raw. We use a receiving blanket for a few hours and I wash them at the end of the day. Saves their poor nose from the extra pain of getting rubbed raw when it's running like a faucet."
"If my kids are sick, but don't have fevers, I take them to run errands with me. I get stuff done and they get to stay home from school. It's a win-win."
"Couch, snuggles, sweats, movies, hot tea."
"Humidifiers are the best. I have one in every room. When my kids get a bad cough, I turn those on and they instantly help. Also, warm baths and lots of love."
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