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What to Do With the Family When You Need a Sick Day

Tips for taking care of the family when mom needs to take a sick day.

We do what we can to avoid it, but at some point, the inevitable will happen. Mom will get sick. Enjoying a quiet, restful day in bed is not an option for most mothers. What’s a mom to do?

Here are some tips to help you survive a “Mom Sick Day":

Call for help with the kids

In some cases, the working parent may be able to stay home and help with the kids, but often this is not a feasible option. “Don’t be too proud to call in reinforcements if necessary,” advises mom Becky Baldridge. Ask friends and family to take the kids to school or help cook dinner. Most friends are willing to help, especially if you offer to return the favor in the future.

Simplify family meals

 For a sick mommy, feeding her family can be a huge challenge. Keep it simple by ordering takeout, raiding the freezer or letting the kids eat cereal for dinner. “I’ve had my husband order, pay for and have pizza delivered from work, because when I’m sick, preparing meals is impossible,” says Rodganna Avery, mom of three.

Let go of “normal” family rules

Many families limit the amount of screen time their children are allowed each day, but when mom is sick it’s OK  to relax the rules. “I let them watch TV all day and I lay on the couch and sleep. I feel better the next day because I get rest,” says LouAnn Cunningham. Allowing extra TV or video-game time helps to entertain the kids so mom can rest. Mother of six, Chrissy Roussel, says “When you are sick, just focus on making sure they’re fed and changed. Let go of the ‘normal’ parenting rules for a few days.” It won’t hurt the kids to have one or two days of extra screen time and they will probably enjoy it as well.

How to entertain the kids

What do you do when TV time gets old? Build a fort, get out craft supplies, or play with blocks. “I have a secret stash of toys that I only bring out when I’m sick,” says Jessi Cole, mom of three “Since they are rarely out, my kids think it’s a huge treat.” Try having the kids read a book aloud or put on a puppet show for you while you rest. When mom is sick, the goal is to keep the kids entertained, but as quiet as possible throughout the day.

Plan ahead for your sick time

The last tip is one you can do in advance. Before you get the first hint of a runny nose or sore throat, prepare for when you do. Set some special toys and movies aside for your sick day, keep easy-to-prepare snacks and freezer meals on hand and teach your kids to prepare simple meals like sandwiches or cereal so they can help themselves when needed.

As moms, we do so much for our families and when we aren’t feeling well, a smoothly run household can spiral out of control fast. It’s OK to let the house go and rely on others for a few days. If mom has time to rest, she should be back to her old self in no time.  

Sarah Lyons is a busy mother of six children, including 3-year-old triplets.

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