Are you at home with a sick child? What she probably needs most is rest. And you can help her get the downtime she needs without leaving the TV on all day.
Try these fun, low-key activities. You'll help your child get better while you spend some quality time together.
Games and puzzles. Get out some card games, flash cards, board games, and puzzles. Just keep in mind that kids who aren't feeling good have a low threshold for frustration, says Lisa M. Asta, MD, a pediatrician in Walnut Creek, CA. Choose games that make you work together over ones that pit you against each other.
Crafts. Model with clay. 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," Asta says. 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. Make believe your child's stuffed animals are sick and help her take care of them, Asta says. Take the bunny's temperature. Ask how it's feeling. This could help your child express how she feels, Asta says, and give you a better idea of how to help.
Drawing. Unwrap a fresh box of crayons or markers, if you have them. Ask your child to draw some pictures of things you can do together when she feels better.
Coloring books, sticker books, and activity books. Look for reusable sticker books -- they're not just one and done.
Books. Divide up the day with reading breaks.
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.
Audiobooks. You don't have to buy them. Lots of sites offer free podcasts of children's stories that you can play on your computer, smartphone, or MP3 player. You can also check out audiobooks at your local library.
Video chats. Use your computer or smartphone 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.