It’s that time of year again: a time for school activities, holiday fun, and yes…the flu (you know…that strain the flu shot didn’t “cover”).
At first your child will want to sleep, sleep and sleep some more....but in no time at all you’ll realize she’s up and awake - and bored.
What do you do when it’s too soon for her to go back to school, yet she’s just un-groggy enough to be calling out “Mom…I need something to do”?
Gentle but engaging activities are the way to go during this transition time. Here are five fun strategies for keeping your little patient occupied while her body recovers.
Cuddle Up With a Photo Album
“Just” reading will only keep your youngster occupied for so long (and I say this as the parent of readers). But photo albums are always fascinating to children. Kids love to take a trip down memory lane, hear stories that feature them as the star and have some giggles at how silly they (and you!) looked “way back then.”
You’ll be surprised how much time you and she can kill flipping through old pictures. If you’re not particularly organized (raising hand guiltily over here) and don’t have chronological, orderly albums, flip through your phone, or bundler her up and bring her to the computer to search old folders for images. You’ll love this activity as much as she does.
Have a Living Room Camp-Out
My son and daughter love these! Sick children tend to sleep more, but there’s no reason the journey there can’t be fun. Drape a sheet across two pieces of furniture. Set a comfortable, fluffy blanket down inside. Add a few pillows. Put a familiar, cozy movie on, include a light snack if your little one’s stomach can tolerate it and cuddle up with him.
This is a GREAT way to get a child who needs his illness-recovery sleep to chill out and ease into a midday nap.
Give Him a Glow-in-the-Dark Bath
When my child is feeling particularly under the weather, he usually asks for a bath, and depending upon the illness, the warmth and moisture can really help matters.
Invite your child for a fun glow-in-the-dark bath by turning off the lights and giving him glow sticks. It only needs to be dark enough in the bathroom for the glow sticks to show up, so leave the hall light on, or if it’s daytime, don’t draw the bathroom shade all the way down. You want to keep this activity safe while retaining the fun factor.
Make sure your child is old enough to understand that glow sticks are to be gently played with and not forced open.
Let Her Catch Up on Some Journaling
Surprise your child with a journal and new pen (you can keep this simple and inexpensive; any local store with stationery should have, at the very least, a lined composition book). While you’re at the store, grab some stickers, magic markers, glitter pens or any creative elements you think your child enjoy.
Ask your child to write her name on the inside cover, add the words "My Journal,” and then let her just write! She can pen anything that comes to mind. It’s likely she’ll start off by describing her sick day and (hopefully) how excited she is to have her new book. But really, what she writes is up to her…it’s her journal, after all.
Before she makes her first entry, hand her the stickers, markers, glue and so on, and tell her to decorate her special book any way she wants.
Make “Sick-Day Popsicles”
If your child has a sore throat, a popsicle can work wonders (be careful of making these for a child with a stomach bug; fruit juice may exacerbate things). If your child is up and about, even if slowly (and well wrapped-up in a robe), let her help you make these as part of your sick-day activities strategy.
It’s easy to make popsicles. Any fruit juice will do. Water the juice down if you’d like. Let your child chop up her favorite fruit to add to the popsicles. Pour the juice into a popsicle mold; insert a crafts stick. Set the timer for 45 minutes and let your child get up at that time to check that the popsicles are just becoming slushy. At this point, have her add the fruit chunks gently so that they’re suspended in the slush. Set the timer for another hour. At this point the popsicles should be ready to eat; if not, check again every 20 minutes.
In between all this fun, make sure your little one is getting plenty of rest. Sick children tend to tire easily, so you may only need one or two of the above strategies to get your child through her day. However, if she needs a few days to recover, cycle through these ideas, and encourage her to come up with some of her own. Before you know it, she’ll be well again and ready to go back to her normal schedule – with a smile.
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