Are you at home with a sick child? What your child probably needs most is rest. But it's hard to get cranky, sick kids the rest they need without leaving the TV on all day. Try these quiet activities instead. You'll help your child heal, and spend some quality time together.
- Games and puzzles. It's time to get out some card games, flash cards, board games, and puzzles. Just keep in mind that sick kids have a low threshold for frustration, says Lisa M. Asta, MD, a pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Choose collaborative games rather than competitive ones. (If losing at Candyland or trying to assemble a 500-piece puzzle may cause a tantrum, keep the games in the closet.)
- Crafts. Model with clay or Play-Doh. Or, do some simple crafts with whatever you have around the house -- decorate an empty tissue box or paper towel roll. "Don't worry if you're not super-crafty," says Asta. The point is the process, not the end product. If your sick child can't come to the table, set up a folding tray on the bed or couch.
- Pretend play. Start a stuffed-animal hospital. Pretend your child's stuffed animals are sick and help your child take care of them, Asta says. Take the bunny's temperature. Ask how it's feeling. "Through play, your child may indirectly express how he or she feels, giving you a better sense of how to help," says Asta.
- Drawing. Unwrap a fresh box of crayons or markers, if you have them. Suggest that your sick child draw some pictures of things you can do together when your child feels better.
- Coloring books, sticker books, and activity books. Look for reusable sticker books -- they're more like the Color Forms that we had when we were kids.
- Books. Divide up the day with reading breaks for your sick children.
- Photos. Look at baby pictures together. Scroll through them on your phone, computer, or digital camera -- or if you're old school, flip through an album or scrapbook.
- Audio books. You don't have to buy them. Lots of sites offer free podcasts of children's stories that you can play on your computer, smart phone, or MP3 player. You can also check out audio books at your local library.
- Video chats. Use your computer or smart phone to call up a grandparent or other relative using Skype or another service. Seeing a friendly but faraway face could cheer up your child -- and give you a few minutes to yourself.