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5 Tips for Parents at Home With Sick Kids

As much as you love your children, when they get a cold or flu it can be as hard on you as it is on them. Asta offers these 5 pointers to take some of the frustration out of your day.

  1. Change it up. Children get tired of activities quickly. "Be ready to shift gears a lot," says Asta. To make these transitions easier on yourself, write a list of your options at the beginning of the day.
  2. Set up different rest stations. Don't keep your sick children on the same couch all day -- they'll go stir-crazy. Instead, set up a few different cozy spots for them -- their bed, the couch in the living room, and the recliner in the family room.
  3. Limit TV and video games. Some TV is fine when kids are sick. But Asta warns that watching TV or playing video games may not give your child the healing rest she needs. "When kids are involved in the TV show, they may fight against sleep so they can keep watching it," says Asta. "They're driven to keep playing the videogame so they can get to the next level." When children are doing something calmer -- like reading or coloring, they're more likely to put down the book or the crayon when they get tired and go to sleep.
  4. Be prepared. Try to keep a secret stash of coloring books, stickers, and small toys in a closet somewhere. Break them out when your children get sick. Just having something new to look at will help distract your sick kids.
  5. Set your own work aside. If you're a working parent who unexpectedly had to stay home to take care of your sick child, resist the urge to multi-task too much. "You really can't take care of your kid and work at home all day," says Asta. Trying to do both will just leave you tense and frazzled.

Asta says it's OK to do a little housework or answer a few emails. But for your sick child's sake and for your own sanity, don't try to do too much. Instead, cuddle and nap together, and use this time to connect with your children.