Sick kids are rarely happy kids. One thing my mom always tells me is to look my best when I am sick— the better you look, the better you feel. Now, whenever I’m sick, I put on a dress or my favorite shirt. It makes me feel like little has changed just because I don’t feel that great. When kids are sick the best thing to do is brighten their spirit. Now, just coming off of surgery for my knee, I’ve realized all the things I need to feel better are the same things I needed when I was a kid.
1. Have a comfy spot
Being uncomfortable can compound a problem. Whether it is engulfed in pillows, smothered in blankets, or curled up next to a ton of stuffed animals, get comfy. Being comfortable makes it easier to handle pain. Be sure to make it easy to cool down or get warm because when you are sick, temperatures can changed in the blink of an eye.
2. Enjoy some family lovin’.
They may say “do no disturbed,” but some kids just don’t want to be a burden. By all means let them get their needed rest, but offer a quick board game or a movie. Staying home sick in bed is fun for about half a day, and concentrating on pain with no other distractions can make it worse. Then, a bed becomes a prison where crankiness festers, and fun dies. Don’t let it! Give your sick guy a little fun right in bed. Play I spy, 20 questions, or any other fun family game. If there isn’t a contagious factor, you can have a family member eat dinner with the sick child. It’s a chance to break a rule and eat in your room, plus no one has to eat alone. Above all, make your sick kid feel loved.
3. Have a code.
Kids love to feel like part of a secret game. For my family, it’s a one-ring-code. The sick sibling calls the house phone for one ring then hang up. Then, the sturdy, healthy siblings come running. This can get a little tiresome for the others when they have to fill the water, or in my case, hand me my crutches, but it’s comforting and fun. Yeah, you could always text or call, but if your feel weak or feel like seeing a friendly face come to the rescue, it’s great. Another cool option is walkie-talkies. Kids be warned: the more you make your brother or sister run up and down the stairs, the more you will regret it when they are the sick ones.
4. Watch TV & movies.
Don’t underestimate re-runs. Re-runs of your favorite shows can conjure up some seriously great nostalgia and comfort. Watch your favorite series from beginning to end. The pilot episode will have you laughing at the younger versions of the characters. Watching episodes again with a dramatic irony is really fun for a devoted fan. If kids have a special show they watch with their parents or grandparents, it can be sick-day bonding activity. Or, watch one of the kid’s movies you forgot you love!
5. “When you feel better we will...”
Sometimes the pull of being sick can make staying in bed feel like the only option. Sitting in bed and getting cranky can leave little room for motivation. If you give a child a reason to get better it has them looking forward and actively trying to get better. I was the typical kid who loved to go out for ice cream after a mean case of the flu, but mini golfing, a movie, or a trip to the park could be great to get a kid up and about faster.
6. Skip the soup.
Chicken noodle is good for an average day, but when you’re sick, you want to rely on the favorites. Make sure there is a lot of water on hand and encourage drinking it, but give into a favorite homemade meal or snack. My mom knows to make a roasted chicken and give me a leg. I think it actually makes me feel better. Maybe you are more of a s’mores kind of kid. Either way, break out the heavy-duty-food-Band-Aids. When there is no appetite for anything, it’s easier to find room for your favorites.
7. Take a look at past memories.
Bring out the scrap albums. I love going through pictures of old times. What better time to do that then when you’re sick in bed. Every kid can remember when they were younger, even just a little, and see that in pictures. And seeing mom or dad with a “great” haircut can get some healing laughs as well. Take out a few and peel through them if you want the kids to lay off the TV a little. It will be a great time to cherish a memory, and get them excited to get better to make new ones.
8. Play the “What do I want to do when I grow up” game.
Kids will get sick a few times over the years. Start a tradition of asking the kids what they want to do when they grow up while they’re sick. You can write it all down and keep it for the next time they are sick to see what they wanted to be then. It will be a great keepsake for down the road too.
Being sick is icky, but it doesn’t have to be all that bad. Sometimes the only real thing to do is rest and get better, but when it’s a broken leg, or a stiff cold you just can’t shake, you might as well use the time you have. Really, it can be just like a rainy day. Bundle up, break out the comfort food, and watch Jumanji on the big screen.