Activities for Kids When Parents Are Sick

Tuned In Parents - Activities for kids when parents are sickWe all know better than to kiss our kids when they’re sick; but who can resist? The result is parents catch most of the little nasties floating around daycares, schools, playgrounds, etc. And who takes care of us? If we take a day off work, does that truly mean we take time off? Ha!

Primary caregivers do not get to take sick leave. It’s just the way it works. Luckily, we have tips to work around that. A tuned in parent in Glendale, California, who was very sick last week while caring for her two young children and her niece, suggests nine savvy activities for the kids that will keep them busy while allowing you to REST!

Let the kids give you a “check-up.”

All of the kids activities revolve around you being able to spend time with the children while relaxing (ideally, lying down). And as seen in the intro photo, you can do just that while the kids engage in creative play as “doctors” giving you a check-up.

Toy Bath!
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This is a great time to get all those sticky toys washed and have the kids do it for you. Get a splat mat (or a vinyl shower curtain will do) and a rubbermaid bin or similar container and announce it’s time to give their toys a bath! You can supervise while resting on the couch.

Indoor or Pretend Picnic!
imageKids love picnics, don’t they? This gives you an excuse to prep the easiest, no-cooking-necessary, picnic meal and/or snack for them to enjoy on their indoor picnic. You can eat with them, or watch them from your “picnic bed.”

Paint Their Nails
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Another quiet activity that allows you to stay off your feet is painting little nails and/or applying kiddie tattoos. They love it, too! And there are plenty of non-toxic, kid-friendly nail polish and tats just for that!

Let Them Read to You!
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Snuggle up on the couch or in bed and let the kids practice reading to you. For younger kids, read-along CDs, DVDs, and apps might be better. Or, if you’re up to it, you can read to them!

Arts & Crafts on the Floor – Everybody, Create and Color!
imageCrayons, Play-doh, colored pencils and paper, oh my! Put on some music that you all like (you’re not trying to give yourself a headache) and break out that splat mat again. One-by-one introduce arts and crafts activities the kids can do on the floor while you supervise, sitting or lying on the couch or floor.

Note: Let them make a mess with all these activities and let the kids clean it up after each one. Or, if they’re too young, leave it for someone else to clean up (you’re ill, after all). If you’re a single-parent like me, that someone else is you … when you’re feeling better (yay).

Let Them Give You a Puppet Show
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Sit back, relax, and watch their imagination and confidence blossom before your red, puffy eyes as they give you a puppet show. Even if you don’t have adorable finger or hand puppets, you can make simple sock puppets, or even draw basic smiley faces on their fingers. Their imagination will do the rest, and you will do the resting.

Puzzles – Quiet Brain Candy!
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Keep developmentally-appropriate puzzles on hand, always. And bust them out as often as possible — wonderful, quiet, brain-tickling exercise they are! Flash incentives, if you have to. Puzzles will keep the kids busy while providing them cognitive stimulation and you more time for R&R.

No Shame in Watching TV
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If you must crawl into bed and drag your kids with you, do what you gotta to do — that includes everyone cozying up to watch TV. I won’t tell, if you won’t. (Most assuredly the kids will, though.)

A little sick-day screen time is not going to corrupt their child-sized minds. Your priority is to get well while keeping the kids alive. And if you need a little help from Elmo, Dora, or a Disney movie marathon, there’s no judgement here.

Thank you for being tuned in parents, and a special thanks for all these tips from the tuned in mom in Glendale, California (who, through the above activities, made a fast recovery)! I welcome your comments, suggestions, and ongoing parenting tips, so we can keep sharing. There’s more for you, too, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!

-Elle C.

Creative Commons Photos:
Pretend Picnic: OakleyOriginals
Indoor Picnic: Micah SittigReading to Mom: woodleywonderworks
Playdoh: dbrekke

About Elle C. Mayberry

Elle C. Mayberry is a mom and author, who just released a new children's book with her young daughter. With a passion for parenting and degrees in psychology and "make it workology," she created Tuned In Parents (TiP).

4 comments on “Activities for Kids When Parents Are Sick

  1. Such great tips! The last time I was sick, my hubby played doctor with the toddler. We walked him through blowing your nose and where the snot comes from and they “listened” to my back and chest to check my breathing. Caleb thought it was so much fun and for the next few days would check the baby’s breathing and try to help him blow his nose. I’m constantly amazed at the simple things they find pleasure in.

    • Aww, little Dr. Caleb! I love how the whole family got into it. It’s so cute how the kids get into these activities (and even better that they actually afford us some rest). Thank you for sharing, Jules!

  2. Fantastic tips! Nothing is worse than trying to carry on like normal when you’re ill and don’t have the energy to entertain your little ones!

    Thank you for sharing with us at #MommyMeetupMondays!

    • Agreed, Brandyn, I love these tips, too. We all get sick, but now we don’t need to make it worse or prolong it by neglecting the recovery phase. 🙂

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