Our sickness tally this month has risen. I finally caught the illness the boys had, and then we went on a trip with sniffly friends, and Alrik succumbed, again.
The good news is that having a minor cold doesn't have to mean being miserable. I'm pleased to be writing a three-part series on the topic of sick days and kids for Children's Mucinex. My first post offered my go-to tips for helping your family survive cold and flu season, and this post and my next one will share some of the fun home activities we've indulged in while under self-imposed quarantine. The bonus to these activities? They make the kids feel better, too!
1. Snuggle and nurse
I have to admit, I eat up all the cuddling I get in when the kids are sick. There's nothing like a loving parent's lap and a gentle hug to make little ones feel secure and comforted — and it boosts my serotonin, too! Mikko's not always the cuddly sort, but during his recent bouts of illness, he would willingly crawl into my lap and even (gasp!) hold hands as we walked outside (something he wouldn't do even as a baby).
|On an ill-advised outing before the kids were well, Mikko climbed into my lap at the aquarium, all the limbs and heft of his five-year-old self curled into a little ball.|
|We gave up on the aquarium and went to a restaurant. Only I ate — both boys just leaned against me (hard to wield utensils, but I tried…), and Alrik nursed. I love that the word "nursing" has a double meaning that's perfectly suited to seeing little ones through a minor illness: comforting supply of fluids along with Mama's antibodies!|
|That's one sad baby, but at least he feels comfortable and loved!|
2. Freely available drinks
During an illness, kids need readily offered fluids, all day long. Keep suggesting they take even a sip. For Mikko, we made sure he had a steady supply of cold water and diluted juice. We also offered popsicles as a treat. You can easily make your own by freezing juice or yogurt in little cups with spoons stuck into the tops.
Babies who are breastfeeding will likely increase their time feeding, which is a great boost for their immune system while providing needed fluids and nutrition. But for older kids (whether nursing or not), you can provide extra drink options to tempt them into hydration. Alrik appreciated sipping from a straw. Babies and toddlers might enjoy breastmilk- or formula-sicles: the familiar nutrients and taste but in an adventurous new texture and temperature. (I know this is possible with breastmilk and am getting negative results about whether it's ok to freeze formula; I'm going to guess it could be all right for a small quantity as a treat but not for regular feedings.)
3. Resting in the middle of the action
Kids who are sick need their rest — but they don't necessarily want to feel sequestered all day. The simple solution? Move their nap space to the family room. This is a great time to teach other kids who are feeling better about compassion and keeping voices low to help out the ailing sibling. But kids who feel crummy enough won't even notice the commotion! I also highly recommend snuggling with a cat and a matching quilt. Couldn't hurt.
4. Movies and video games as a family
Sick days can be good days to relax rules on screen time, if you're open to that — but that doesn't mean kids have to engage with screens alone. I recommend family movie time, which gives an opportunity for more snuggles as well as calming and entertaining the members of the family who are feeling far too well and cooped up. We also greatly enjoy playing kid video games along with Mikko. He's really good at them, and it gives him a lot of practice in reading, motor skills, and problem solving while being a fun way for us to work on something together.
5. Simple but enjoyable projects
As homeschoolers, we're always gathering little projects to do with the kids. Sick days are a great time to break out the easier ones. Check out Pinterest for more ideas than you could ever fit into a quarantine, or see what's already around your house. Low-key art projects, planting a few seeds, experimenting with ice, trying out a sensory bin, reading a stack of library books, writing letters to family members … anything that will distract your kids from their runny noses but still allow for plenty of resting as needed.
6. Foam art in the bathtub
For kids who are stuffy and feverish, the bath is a miracle worker. The warm, moist air unclogs and soothes, while the water can help regulate temperature. Keep your kids in the tub longer or entice them to return by providing simple, free-form bath projects. We purchased some foam shapes that stick to wet walls, but I was enamored when I found out cutting art foam into a variety of shapes is just as easy, just as effective, a whole lot cheaper (especially if you're reusing foam, as I was), and a lot more imagination-inspiring for the kids.
You can find art foam at any craft store, or at many discount stores and frequently in kid art kits. They cut easily with scissors. The foam shapes stick to the walls when damp and peel off with no fuss when dry. (Some of the bolder colors might leave a temporary stain, but I find that washes off. Test if you have a finicky shower surface.) The foam shapes also float on the water, so you can skim them off before draining the tub. Store them in a mesh bag for the next bathtime.
I cut a variety of geometric shapes in different colors and sizes, as well as more landscape-specific shapes (flowers, grass, stems, leaves, clouds). Depending on your scissors skill level (mine is very low), you could cut out vehicles, animals, houses, and the like — but be prepared (and excited) for your kids to use them in unanticipated ways.
Foam shapes also make a great activity bag or gift idea to offer another family, particularly if any of the kids there are sick! Other ideas for fun bathtimes include bubbles, changing the bath color, an assortment of bottles and containers to pour, several sponges and washcloths with directions to clean the tub or various body parts, and non-bath but waterproof toys (or kitchen utensils!) for a change of pace from the usual bath toys. You can also hop into the bath with your kid and play along!
7. Burning trees and other distractions
We decided it was high time to put our Christmas tree to good use. Sam had chopped it up and stored it with our firewood, so we pulled half of it out to burn.
I realize this is an odd one to recommend, but I think any out-of-the-ordinary activity can turn a sick day into a fun-with-mom-and-dad day. Mikko loves it when we use the fireplace, and we rarely do. When better to give it some action than when both our boys needed some cheering up? Burning a Christmas tree (pop! flare! pine scent!) was just the ticket.
As an eighth way to turn sick days into fun days, I support the appropriate use of over-the-counter medicine when my family members need it. We don't use medications often, even during an illness, but I like to know there are child-specific options available when cold or flu symptoms are keeping my children from sleep or making them just way too miserable. I'm glad that Children's Mucinex is one of those medicines, relieving symptoms of congestion and coughing due to colds and flu, and letting Mikko continue his active day and get restful sleep at night to support his immune system's hard work.
Before long, Mikko was back to his old self — playing, talking a mile a minute, and rosy-cheeked with fun instead of a fever!
Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold
When your child has a bad cold, you both can feel miserable. Children's Mucinex is the #1 children's brand for relieving congestion* and provides fast acting relief from your child's worst cold symptoms. Try Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold if your child needs relief from stuffy nose and chest congestion. Always use Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold as directed. (*Based on IRI unit share data for the 52 weeks ending November 2012)
Always use Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold as directed, which means following all the warnings and information on the product, not using any more than directed, and using only for children 4-12 years old. If you are unsure about using Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold, please consult your pediatrician.
And now, you can get a coupon for $2 off your next purchase of Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold on Coupon.com!
Please come back for one more post in the series with a fun and simple craft project that will put a smile on your kids' faces even if they're sick! I'm also very excited to give away a $100 CVS gift card on each post, so leave a simple comment to enter to win!
Comment below with an answer to this question to enter the giveaway: What activity makes your child smile when under the weather?
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Be sure to visit the Children's Mucinex Multi-Symptom Cold page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!