How do parents cope with so many kids home sick?

[ 1 ] November 4, 2009 |

Has anyone noticed there are more than a few kids home sick these days? Although some with suspected or confirmed cases of H1N1, many kids are sick from the usual ailments; common colds, strep, croup, flu, etc. As parents how do we cope? How do we keep our kids healthy and then if and when they do get sick how do we juggle work and family life?

Dylan-sickIf your child is sick and has a fever of 100 or more they now need to stay home from school or daycare until they are fever-free for 24 hours. This may mean scrambling at work for coverage, negotiating with your spouse, or asking friends and family to step up and help with childcare. But what about if the friends, sitters or family members you usually rely on are also sick? These days the wave of illness affects more of us–kids are more quick to be sent home sick and our kids (or friend’s kids) are staying home longer. This affects how we plan work, play, and just manage the basics like grocery shopping on a daily basis.

Until recently it wasn’t my children who were getting sick, it was their friends and their teacher which meant canceled playdates, rescheduling childcare swaps and carpools. Now that my son is home sick this means more rescheduling on my end; meetings, chores and work are now squeezed into small pockets of free time.

Here’s a list of ways we are trying to keep our family healthy and ways to deal with sickness in our house. Please share your helpful tips!

1.    Remind kids how to wash their hands with soap. Little kids can sing the ABC song while washing. Older kids can understand the need to wash the germs away.
2.    Teach kids to cough into their elbow not their hand and to keep fingers out of their mouths.
3.    I pack antibacterial wipes in the lunchbox so they can wash hands right before eating.
4.    Pack a water bottle so kids can stay hydrated all day long.
5.    Plan healthy meals for the whole family with lots of fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein.
6.    I pack travel Kleenex in my purse, kid’s backpack and in the car–less chance of them using their hands or clothes to wipe.
7.    Have a supply of food staples in the house in case we can’t easily get to the market (e.g. broth-based soup, yogurt, apple sauce, bread, juice, salty crackers)
8.    When I head to the grocery store, offer to pick up items for friends housebound with their own sick children.
9.    Keep phone numbers handy for doctors, school, childcare, friends and family in case we need to call someone in a pinch to help us out.
10.  Make sure kids get a good nights sleep. Stick to a bedtime routine.
11.  Try to limit children’s extra activities especially if they are recovering from an illness. This year it seems many kids appear better only to get sick again days later.
12.  If your child starts to show symptoms of illness and is scheduled for a playdate or class, warn the parent or teacher, so they have the option to cancel as their own preventive health measure.
13.  If child shows signs of dehydration, make sure they get re-hydrated with fluids, salts and sugars like water, Gatorade, apple juice and “salty” crackers (e.g. Saltines).
14.  When my kids are home sick, I often put a waterproof sheet on the couch and set up a little station of supplies–including Kleenex, trashcan, water bottle, books, music, books on CD.
15.   Ask friends to swap Videos/DVDs/Music/Books to help make long days at home pass more quickly.
16.  Put off things (work and personal) that do not need to be done right away. Use free time–early morning or after kids go to sleep–to get caught up on work.

That’s all I have for now. I still have one son home sick….and he’s waking up.

Category: parenting, wellness


Anisa Raoof

about the author ()

Anisa Raoof is the publisher of Kidoinfo.com. She combines being a mom with her experience as an artist, designer, psych researcher and former co-director of the Providence Craft Show to create the go-to spot for families in Rhode Island and beyond. She loves using social media to connect parents with family-related businesses and services and promoting ways for parents to engage offline with their kids. Anisa believes in the power of working together and loves to find ways to collaborate with others. An online enthusiast, still likes to unplug often by reading books and magazines, drawing, learning to knit, making pop-up books with her two sons and listening to records with her husband.

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  1. Katy Killilea Katy says:

    Our 3rd grade teacher said she uses ten minutes of class time on hand washing before snack and before lunch. She said it eats into instruction time, but that the kids lose much more if they’re home sick. I wanted to give her a huge kiss!

    I hope you guys are back to 100% healthy soon!

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