7 Ways to Entertain your kids when you’re sick

There’s nothing worse than feeling under the weather, except when you are also caring for small people. As a work at home mom ( and former stay at home mom) this scenario is all to familiar to me. It always seems as a cold passes through the house everyone else gets better, and then I get it. Typically the kids are ready to to go play, and I’m laying on the couch wishing I could just take a nap.

Yesterday I was feeling under the weather. I think it was the combo of too many late nights and fighting something off. I was able to get some must do things done, and then shut down my computer to rest for a few hours. Fortunately, my kids are in school most of the day (the 5 year old is only half day) so I was able to take some time to rest and take care of me, but not too long ago (over the summer in fact!) I would have had to muddle through.

There are some tricks I learned to help me get through a sick day even with little ones at home, so I put together a list of 7 ways to to manage being sick while caring for your kids.

Day 232 / 365 - Sick. Return of the tissue mountain...

7 Ways to entertain your kids when you’re sick:

1. Take Care of You First: Just like when you are on a plane and the flight attendant recommends putting your oxygen mask on first then helping your children, take care of you first, and then take care of the kids. If that means taking a 10 minute shower while your baby plays in her crib, or the toddler engages in some play time-make it happen. For myself I always find fluids were the hardest thing to remember, when I was nursing that was easy (you drink water before, or during nursing) but filling up a huge water bottle and committing to drinking 2-3 that day helps tremendously.

2. Screen Time: For kids over the age of 2, screen time when you are sick is a given. Limit them to 1-2 hours and use that time to sleep. If you have to sleep on the couch with one arm around them, then do so, but make sure you take time to rest. For older kids, I’ll put on a movie, make some popcorn, or set up a special picnic (just a blanket on the floor), which can often by me 2-3 hours of rest time.

3. Ignore the Mess: Ignore the laundry, the dishes, and trying to prepare meals. Everyone can eat apples and sandwiches for lunch, and cereal for dinner.

4. Ask for Help: Whether it’s a neighbor that can come over for a playdate, another parent to pick up your kids from school, or letting your spouse know he or she will be ‘on’ the second they walk through the door is key. If you can’t find help this time around, consider beefing up your support system when you’re healthy-so you an another family (or families) can help each other when needed.

5. Quiet Time/Nap Time: For younger kids nap when they are napping. For older kids, institute quiet time where everyone goes to their room and reads books or plays quietly for an hour. I often do this when we all need a break from one another and found over the summer it was priceless when it came to getting some rest when I was tired or not feeling well. Set your alarm to get up in about an hour, and tell your kids you’ll come get them when time is up. For kids who don’t typically nap (4-6 year olds) you may find that they fall asleep as well!

6. Go to Bed Early: Since being sick means you need more rest than usual, get your kids in bed and head to bed soon after with your water bottle, medicines, and tissues on the bedside table.

7. Turn off the Noise: Don’t answer the phone, don’t open your email or look at your mail. Focus on getting better, and then you’ll be better able to tackle those things when you have a clear head.

What are some ways you cope while you’re sick? For ways to help keep from getting sick, check out this post on 15 ways to fight the flu & colds.


Photo credit:  Creative Commons License  photo  credit:  anitakhart


About Kelly

Kelly Whalen is the founder and editor of the Centsible Life blog. She started the blog 6 years ago as her family faced a mountain of debt. The blog became a resource to readers and a hub for everything you need in life for less. Kelly lives in the Philadelphia area with her superhero husband, 4 awesome kids, and one adorable dog. She still believes you can have it all....just not all at once.


  1. says

    Excellent tips! I was sick last weekend, and now today I seem to be coming down with something totally different. It’s a sure sign that I am not sleeping enough! I really do need to turn off and rest!

  2. Jessica Cohen says

    I was sick yesterday too and I agree – take care of yourself and worry about the messes when you feel better.   It’ll be well worth it in the end.


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