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We’re getting into that time of year where schools and playgroups are a petri dish of every cold and flu bug going around, and the days are numbered until you’ll be woken up by the snotty nosed embodiment of feeling sorry for themselves with a forehead you can fry eggs on. Then it’s time to phone school, work, or childminders and make plans for a day of Calpol and recovery.
Taking care of a sick child is straight forward, sometimes more straight forward than taking care of a healthy one! Make sure the room they’re in is not too warm, but not draughty. Give them plenty to drink, but for the first day don’t worry about food unless they ask for it, then on subsequent days tempt them with snacks and nutritious drinks such as milk.
Now obviously if your child is off school they’re going to need plenty of rest and recovery, and it’s probably not the best time for a big educational or craft project or anything that involves too much activity. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to leave them plugged into Netflix or playing Minecraft all day, and with some children too much screen time can make it harder for them to rest and leave them agitated later.
With that in mind, here are some ideas for low-impact activities you can do with your child to help them rest while their immune system gets to work.
Build a Den
A big challenge with a lot of children is getting them to stay in one place for any length of time, even when they’re not feeling themselves. So make the place you want them to stay in as fun as possible. Get their favourite cushions, books and cuddle toys and build a little nest of the sofa. Pretend it’s a desert island and give them paper and colouring pens to draw their sofa-nation’s flag. Let them really own this space.
You can even set them up a den on the floor, using bedsheets or table clothes draped over some chair to give them a little sick-tent to stay in.
If your child is ill, the chances are it’s going to be contagious, so don’t be surprised if their favourite stuffed monkey also comes down with a case of the lurgy. Put your child in charge of looking after their favourite cuddly toy, taking their temperature, giving them lots of drinks and making sure they get lots of rest.
As we said, this probably isn’t the time for long, involved board games that involve lots of set-up, but at the same anyone who has played more than one game of Snakes & Ladders, Snap or Noughts and Crosses has probably taken all the joy they can take from those games. Fortunately, we are living through something of a games renaissance right now, with plenty of simple, fun card games available such as Get Bit!, Dobble, or Sleeping Queens that’ll keep your kids entertained without overtaxing them.
Sometimes you just need them to close their eyes and rest, even if they’re not going to sleep. If you want to get them to stop looking at a screen for a bit, an audio book is a great way to get them to shut their eyes for a bit without using dirty words like N-A-P. For younger kids, the Cbeebies site has loads of stories, while audible has plenty of books for older readers. Who knows, you might get a chance to sit with them and listen in yourself!