How to Keep Parenting When You Are Actually Really Sick

Parenting is a job you’ve got to be available for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  No sick days.  No vacation time.  Ever.

But, we all get sick.  Even the most diligent immune boosting, hand washing, health nuts of us get sick.  And parenting young children while sick is no picnic.

Everyone still needs to be fed, entertained, and watched over, even if you feel like crawling into your bed and disappearing.  So here are a few things you can do to make parenting while sick just a little bit better.

Cut as many corners as possible.

The more rest you get, the faster you’ll get better; but resting and parenting don’t exactly go hand in hand.  Kirsten Brunner, MA, LPC a Licensed Professional Counselor and mother of two boys says “Forget the laundry. Pull out the paper plates. Housecleaning, baths and phone calls can wait. Make sure everyone gets fed and stays alive. All other tasks and priorities can be put on hold. The more your rest, the more quickly you will feel like yourself again. You can catch up on everything when you are well. And you will catch up – like Superwoman on steroids, because you’ll feel like a new person!”

Extra screen time can be a lifesaver.

While experts agree too much screen time for children is not a good thing, when you’re a sick parent, it can become a wonderful helping hand.  Just be clear with the kids that this is a special treat and that things will go back to normal once you’re feeling better.  Then, pull out the stack of movies and enjoy a living room camp out.

Make food once.

Whether it’s you feeding the kids, your partner, or another helper try to make as many meals and snacks as possible at one time.  This way, you’re getting up less, and the kids can fend for themselves as well as get things easily for you.

As Bec Oakley a writer and mother of two teenage boys says in the 12 Step Survival Plan for Parenting When You’re Sick “Fill some tupperware with sandwiches and snacks and hide it in the fridge until lunchtime”.  For drinks she suggests that you “Fill two thermos’ (thermosii?) – one with tea, soup or something cold (that one’s for you) and the other with juice or water for the kids.  Keep within arm’s reach of the couch with a stack of cups.”

Snack trays are a fun and lifesaving option for sick parents as well.  Simply get a large platter, divided tray, or several small plastic containers and fill them with finger foods.  Cut up fruit and veggies, dry cereal, crackers, cheese cubes, and other types of healthy snacks kids can graze on throughout the day, without your help.

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will get sick when your children are young, and it will be hard.  But, you’ll all make it through, even if things are in a bit of disarray once you do.  And, if you play it right, your kids may even have a good time!

Image courtesy of marin at

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