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How to Take Care of Your Kids When You Are Sick

Updated on January 20, 2009

Q: How will I know if my vomiting is morning sickness or the flu?

A: If it's the flu, you'll get better.

I am currently recovering from being sick for the third time this month. Either I wore myself out over the holidays and am now paying for it, or I’m stuck in some kind of sickness continuum. Either way, I feel that this experience gives me the authority I need to be able to write on this topic. And if you have the authority to be reading this article, my sincerest condolences to you; I hope you feel better.

Being a stay-at-home mom and getting sick has got to be the worst combination since pickles and peanut butter. You can’t call in sick for this job. And somehow your clients don’t seem to have much empathy for your situation. What’s a mom to do?

On the up side, having been sick three times this month, I spent more time lying around than usual. So you benefit from my suffering. I now pass a few insights I gained on to you.


Rest as Much as Possible

This one should be obvious, but all of us know at least one person who needs the obvious pointed out to them. So please, moms, do rest. I know that it’s hard, especially when you have babies under eighteen months, I have a ten month old. But this is a time to put back into practice the advice you got over and over with your newborn, “Rest when the baby rests”. When your baby lays down, you lay down too. When you’re breastfeeding or giving them their bottle, again, lay down. And at night, that time when we moms love to catch up on tasks and spend a few minutes alone? Not when you’re sick. Go to bed early.

Give Yourself a Break!

On a recent episode of House, the female director of the hospital, Dr. Cuddy, was driving herself crazy trying to run the hospital as usual and take care of a newborn foster daughter. After a harried visit from the foster care representative, in which her house was a disaster and she was caught stashing a diaper in her briefcase, she received a visit from her friend and fellow doctor, James Wilson. He asked her about the visit, and she reported her passing result with frustration. He questioned her saying, “You do realize this is good news?” She retorted that she had only passed by the foster agency’s meager standards, but she had failed by her own. He replied, “Why do you women do this to yourselves?!?” Dr. Wilson went on to lecture her on taking too much on, informing her that a man in her position would have assistants, a wife, and nannies helping to cope with her load. He finished with a rebuke my husband often gives me, “Don’t try to be a martyr!”

Put the guilt to rest for a few days and slow down. Take the advice that you would give a good friend in your position: Let the laundry and housekeeping go for a few days. Let the dishes pile up. Let the clutter sit where it is. Order food in instead of cooking. Those things will be waiting for you when you get well. Right now, they can wait.

Furthermore, let some of your rules slide for a few days. Maybe you’re normally stringent about television and videos for your small child. But if a few educational programs will keep your child still and quiet for a couple hours so you can rest, let it go. If giving your child fruit snacks and graham crackers instead of cut up fresh fruit and pita with hummus will allow you to lay down for the ten minutes difference in preparation, skip the hummus. You can get back to your normal guidelines when you’re well. It’s not going to hurt your child to let them slide for a few days.


Enlist Help

We all have people in our lives we can call on when times get tough; your significant other, relatives, your true friends. When I came down with a stomach virus overnight last week and woke up vomiting, I laid on the couch, barely able to stand. My husband was willing and able to stay home and care for me- most of the day. He had one appointment he had to fulfill that morning that he could not get out of. Two friends immediately came to my mind who could help me.

You have those people in your life too. Don’t be afraid to call on them when you need them. Imagine a dear friend calling you and relating how sick they were the day before. That they spent the day hunched over the toilet, while their children ate whatever she could pull out of the cupboard. If you are anything like me, you would be angry with your friend for not calling you and asking for help. Right? …Your loved ones feel the same way about you.


Take Care of Yourself As You Do Your Child

One last tip: Take care of yourself as lovingly and mercifully as you do your child when they are sick. When my three year old is sick, anything goes. I let her stay in her pajamas all day. She can lay on the couch while mommy waits on her. Ice cream at nine o’clock is completely acceptable. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse over and over? No problem.

You treat your child with all the tender loving care you can muster. Do no less for yourself. You’re worth it.


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      fairouz 4 years ago

      I like your advice buy pleas bear in mind that not everyone has a list of people that can help. My husband is the only one that can help me but he has to work. Family doesn't help and friends don't help either im happy for you that it worked out way better! Be thankful

    • Sarah Songing profile image

      Sarah Songing 6 years ago

      I'm so glad I could help just a little, Nicole! You put a smile on MY face. :D

    • profile image

      Nicole 6 years ago

      I'm very sick with the flu ! When I read this it puta smile on my face thank you ! Xxx