How to Survive a Sick Day (& Keep Your Sanity)

I have a confession to make: I kind of enjoy it when my kids are too sick to go to school.

Sure, I hate knowing my child doesn’t feel well. But I love letting her sleep in as late as she wants. I enjoy snuggling on the couch with her watching movies. And when you add the scent of homemade chicken soup bubbling on the stove, what’s not to like?

Of course, sick days with kids can be stressful, too. There’s a lot to think about: should I call the doctor? Is she getting enough fluid? How can I stop her from climbing the walls once the Tylenol kicks in? All that combined with missing a day of work, and the stress could quickly drive you insane. But it doesn’t have to. These stress-saving ideas could help keep you calm next time your child needs a sick day:

Keep a log book. If you’re tracking your child’s temperature or giving her medicine, write it down. This will help prevent accidental overdoses and allow you to provide an accurate report to your child’s healthcare provider should you need to.

Keep quiet activities on hand. Print off some free activity pages at or get out an old-fashioned coloring book. Give your child a clipboard to hold her paper in place, along with some crayons, and encourage her to color from the couch.

Use some screen time. Allow your child time to watch a DVD (Scholastic has a great Storybook Treasures collections that features classic children’s books on DVD), play an age-appropriate video or computer game or visit a few educational websites like or

Listen to books on tape. A child who likes to do things for herself will likely love the feeling she gets from turning the pages in a book as she listens to the dramatic reading of a story. Most libraries have a collection of books on tape available for borrowing.

Offer a special treat. Distracting your child with a special “get well juice” can often momentarily take her mind off of her discomfort. Combine a little seltzer water and 100% fruit juice and offer it to your child in a special cup or sports bottle.

Pull ideas out of a hat. On slips of paper, write down several different quiet activities like “playing with play dough,” “reading a book” and “playing a board game.” When your child starts to complain she is bored, have her pull an activity to do out of the hat.

Snuggle. It’s no secret that snuggling with mom is sometimes the only thing that will bring a sick child comfort. Get a comfy blanket, snuggle up and reassure your child she’s loved and will get better soon.

Caring for a sick child can often be like riding a rollercoaster. Once you think your ride is over and your child is on the mend, it starts all over again. As you balance playing nurse, caregiver and entertainer, remember to reassure yourself and your child that this sick day, too, shall pass.

How do you keep your sanity when your kids are home sick? Share your tips and tricks to help other moms keep their sanity on sick days.

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