When your child is ill, that’s when you really need to be around as comforting snuggler, master of entertainment and bearer of appetising drinks.
If your child has a temperature or the dreaded vomiting bug, or is just worn out and under the weather, it’s a good call to keep them at home and give them some parental TLC.
Not sure when to make that call? The NHS recommends you ask yourself these three key questions:
Is he or she well enough to take part in lessons and activities during the school day? If not, keep your child at home.
Does he or she have a condition that could be passed on to other children or school staff? If so, keep your child at home until the infectious period has passed.
Would I take a day off work if I had these symptoms? If so, keep your child at home.
So you’ve called school or nursery and arranged to be at home yourself, here’s how to make those duvet days count for recuperation and relaxation (a little bit for you too!).
1. TV time
As mum-of-two Flic Everett jokes, “There’s this device called a TV; you just prop them in front of it and it’s brilliant.” She’s right (to a point) that when your child is not feeling full of beans, TV can be just the right medicine. But try and make TV time a bit more special by tracking down favourite childhood films you haven’t watched for a while and enjoying a nostalgia hit. My teenage son’s get well soon film is still The Lion King!
2. Take a trip down memory lane
Staying with the nostalgia theme, children love any chance to look through their old baby books and photo albums, swipe through pictures of former family holidays on your ipad or giggle over old videos of their antics. If you’re behind with organising your pics (and who isn’t?), see if your child’s up to sorting them with you.
3. Memorable medicine
Many adults still remember the special tray they had during childhood illnesses or the book they read (or had read to them) for the first time when ill. These memories of being cared for and cosseted stick, so try and make a few sick day family traditions of your own - a special cup or tray, a new book or comic chosen with care and stickers every time a spoonful of medicine needs to go down. It’s worth having a few pound store treasures hidden away in a drawer for just such days.
4. Bend the rules
When your child’s recovering from a bug, routines can take a back seat (just for a bit). So let them enjoy lolling in pyjamas all day and serve up treaty snacks like throat-soothing homemade lollies and even flat Coke if that’s what it takes to keep your child hydrated.
“I’ve had a poorly child for the past two days,” says Amy Condon, mum to six-year-old Martha.” I definitely cave way easier about letting her come into our bed if she wakes in the night and when she finally asked for ‘soft food’ and insisted only chocolate would do, I let her have an Animal Bar!”
5. Play together
Most parents secretly love having cuddle times with a sick child who’s not so inclined to groan ‘gerrofff’. But when your child is on the mend and feeling more energetic, that’s when you need some boredom-busting solutions and to throw yourself into the role of home entertainment and give some undivided attention.
You could make a secret den with sheets draped over the table or in the space between the wall and the sofa. Fill their special space with pillows, a blanket or duvet, a safe torch and some books or toys. Or what about playing hospital with you as the patient, alongside a selection of dolls and stuffed animals?
In between bouts of TV watching, Flic suggests: “Have a themed day. For example, we used to do ‘Paris’, which involved watching Ratatouille, making a croque monsieur afterwards and playing suitable music and even researching a few interesting facts while you’re at it. If they feel up to it, they can even dress up. My kids honestly did love doing this.”
6. Tray fun
Set your child up with a tray and some paper, washable pens and small toys (magnetic letters on a baking tray work too). For younger kids, homemade modelling clay and slime provide hours of calm entertainment. You don’t want anything too testing for children who aren’t feeling their best, just soothing, simple play.
Mum-of-four Sue Carel says: “We set up a little PC table in bed, so they feel special and comfortable. When my 15-year-old son Alex is on the mend, it also means he can catch up on tomorrow’s lessons.”
Once your child’s feeling better, take a stroll together as a prelude to being back to school fit.