A previously familiar face stares at you, now red-eyed and covered in gross fluids that belong inside their body, not outside. They draw closer to you, raspy-voiced and clinging, determined to hold onto you and spread the dreaded pestilence that transformed them. No, this isn't the plot of yet another zombie movie. It's real life, for any mom whose kids are sick. So if you're close to such a mom, you should know about helpful, sanity-saving things you could do for a mom with sick kids at home.
People often think to bring food or otherwise help out when a new baby is born or when something really serious happens, like a loss in the family or a major illness. But while having a kid laid up with something that's not quite hospital-worthy isn't as disruptive as all that (thankfully), it can make a mom's already hectic, occasionally stressful life that much more stressful. Sick kids are extra demanding, and being under the weather (and contagious) often means getting stuck inside with them, without all the normal breaks — going to school, being able to play outside, visiting friends' houses for playdates, etc. — that help a mom recharge.
So the next time you see a text message or status update from a friend lamenting the fact that her kids have come down with something yucky, try one or more of the following things if you've got the time and energy (and if you want her to love you literally forever).
It's often hard to get a nice meal on the table, even when your kids aren't sick. When they are (or worse, when you're feeling under the weather, too), it can be almost impossible. Save them at least one night's worth of take-out by bringing some food, and earn a place in the Awesome Friend Hall of Fame.
Bring Wine And/Or Her Favorite Post-Bedtime Treat
Old vine zinfandel and chocolate with toffee bits, please and thank you.
Help With Chores
If there's a sick kid in bed, there's probably loads of nasty dishes in the sink, unfolded clothes in laundry baskets, and other chores totally undone. If you can, head over and cross a task off her to-do list. I'm pretty sure this is the kind of stuff they check for when they're figuring out who becomes an official saint after they die.
Watch The Kids For A Little While So She Can Catch Up On Work
If your friend is a work-at-home mom, having kids home sick may be an extra challenge for her ability to get work done and earn money. Coming over and sitting with her little ones so she can get something done, or at least catch up with some emails, can be a huge help.
Wear Your Favorite Medical Mask And Watch The Kids While She Takes A Long Shower/Bath
Chances are, she hasn't had a chance to properly clean herself in a while if she's on her own with very young kids who are sick. Friends who volunteer to help her little one for an hour or so so she can have a proper shower and freshen up are the real MVPs.
Kindly Refrain From Telling Her What She Looks Like
You know she looks like hell. She knows she looks like hell. Nobody needs to talk about it.
Keep All Non-Scientifically Validated Remedies To Yourself Unless Explicitly Asked
Unless you know for a fact that your friend is as into essential oils or whatever else as you are, please don't tell her all the "can't miss!" remedies you swear by. She's got enough to deal with without having to find a polite way to respond to people who suggest she put onions in her kids socks or whatever.
Send Her Funny Stuff To Read/Look At
Laughter is the best medicine, for the person who's worn out from fighting with kids who don't want to take medicine.
Come Take Care Of Her Pet(s)
When kids need more care, pets get less. If you can, maybe head over to her house and take the dog for a walk or rub the cat's tummy. They'll all be super grateful.
Send Her Something Comfy To Wear
The singular advantage of having to stay in with sick family is the ability to wear comfy stuff without worrying about anyone commenting on how "comfortable!" (read: terrible) you look. A pair of fuzzy slippers, a soft hoodie, or a comfy, funny shirt is a perfect way to say, "Hang in there! I'm thinking of you!"
Send Her A Gift Certificate For A Massage Or Other Pampering
A mom of sick kids will be totally worn out by the time they get better. Send her something she can do to take care of herself the literal minute her kids are available to run outside and play with other people.
Keep Her Company
Motherhood can be lonely at times, especially when you're holed up with sick littles. If you've got a hardy immune system and her kids aren't laid up with something especially dangerous, consider taking one for the team and going over there to be some much-needed adult company. Not all heroes wear capes. Often, they wear gentle smiles and faces that don't flinch when they see what their friend looks like after days of wrangling sick kids.