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It’s one of those dreaded things as a parent; Your child being sick. Entertaining a sick toddler can be hard. Really hard.
A sick toddler (or pre schooler and even older) is typically an unhappy kidlet. They may not really know what they want to do. They may be clingier than normal.
Add in a parent who is tired and possibly getting less sleep than normal; thanks night fevers or other night time symptoms, and your patience may be wearing thin.
So how do you go about entertaining a sick toddler?
I know I know. Staying home with a sick kidlet can totally suck. Who wants to spend a whole day cooped up in the house with them? Not me. If I can distract my kidlet when she is sick I will.
But guess what? The best thing to do when they are sick is stay home. Not just for them but for others.
Why? Yeah I hear you asking. I see you thinking but it’s just the playground and I will take them when no-one else is around…
- You don’t know how contagious they may be. Playing on that equipment at the playground may still lead to another child coming in to contact with their germs. Don’t be that Mum!
- You don’t know what else they may catch! Yes other Mums may not be as considerate as you and may have taken their sick child to the park. Then you get the fun of a sick kidlet who has caught a bonus bug and is sick longer.
- Rest is so important when sick. Some kidlets don’t know their limits and if they are out, even just at the local park, they play hard and then their bodies don’t have the energy to really fight the bug they have.
So the exception that I will allow (What it’s my blog.. I can allow it) is taking your kidlet on a walk. Being outdoors is great for everyone. It’s the spreading of germs we want to avoid. My advice though? (I mean your reading a blog, you must want ‘some’ advice… take a pram or a shorter walk just in case. A sick kidlet can get tired quickly and you may be stuck carrying them.
Be prepared to go with the flow!
This may seem straight forward but honestly, just take a step back and let your child lead. Let them tell you how much they want to do and what kind of activities they want to do.
Your kidlet may want to do their normal activities or may prefer to do quieter activities. Let them decide.
Don’t bombard them with options either. If you’re anything like me, you sometimes feel like you need to have 20 things for them to choose from and think you just need to find the right activity for them to enjoy. Entertaining a sick toddler doesn’t have to be a smorgasboard of what’s next on the list.
Be prepared to adjust your expectations. Both for you and your kidlet. And if you have other kidlets, for them too.
This is a great time to just be gentle with each other and get some extra affection in as, when and if needed.
Which brings me to my next point.
Enjoy the cuddles
I love cuddles with my kidlet. And when she is sick, one of the things I enjoy is just having her cuddle with me for extended periods.
I know it can be hard when you have things to do around the house, or on the computer, or you just want a break. Believe me I know. I really know.
But seriously, let all that stuff slide and just enjoy loving on your kidlet. Lay down on the couch with them and watch cartoons or something simple. Read a book. Just snooze together.
If having your kidlet on top of you constantly isn’t an option, then think about setting up a snuggly zone for them that they can sit with you in or lay down in.
Add a blanket, pillow and maybe some comfort toys. Depending on what kind of sick, set up water and other needs close by.
When you are able come and pat, cuddle or just be beside your kidlet and offer comfort. I find that if my kidlet can snuggle on the couch and see me easily she is more likely to settle whilst I do jobs like prepare meals.
Your presence can be the biggest comfort your kidlet needs.
Don’t stress about screen time
OK this is probably controversial. And you can take it or leave it. You may be a screen free family to which I am like Mama I salute you!
I do my best to limit screen time for my kidlet. Not as much as some and more than others.
But when my kidlet is sick, well sometimes I just snuggle in with her and we watch tv most of the day. I curate what she watches for sure, but I’m ok with increased screen time when she is sick.
I mean when I’m sick, all I want to do is lounge around and watch crappy telly. I can hardly begrudge this for my kidlet when she is sick. And let’s face it entertaining a sick toddler sometimes needs some help from technology.
After some ideas for limiting screen time? Check out this Facebook Group The Limited Screen-Time Family
Did someone say short attention spans?
Let’s face it, little kids have a short attention span at the best of times. Depending on their age, they will naturally engage for shorter periods in some activities. It is normal for a 2 year old to lose interest in an activity after 5 mins.
But when sick, that attention span can be even shorter. And that’s ok. Remember that we are going with the flow and letting our kidlet lead.
So when your entertaining a sick toddler, try to be as patient as possible and let them move between tasks as they choose.
Most importantly, and this applies even when they are well, don’t take it personally if they aren’t interested in an activity you think they will love or move on quickly.
How about some actual activity ideas?
Ok ok I get it. You want some suggestions of actual activities you can do. I would as well. I’m about to give you some right now.
If you’ve read my above points you will be aware that your kidlet may not want to do any of these or may only do them for a short time.
These are ideas that my kidlet enjoys when she is unwell (aside from cuddles and some extra screen time).
- Printables & Busy Bags – if your kidlet just wants to do easy and relaxed activities then a Busy Bag or printables are perfect. Recreate Nursery Rhymes, practice pre-writing skills, learn shapes and colours plus more with quiet and fun activities. Want to get some for your kidlet? Then head on over to Heart Moments Kids here.
- Sand play – there is something about playing in sand for kidlets. You can have a sandpit outside, or create one inside with a plastic tub. Add in some cars, diggers, dinosaurs…whatever is your kidlets favourite and away they go.
- Warm Bath but more awesome – let your kidlet play in the bath even if it’s the middle of the day. Some warm water, add some oils, favourite toys, glow sticks, what ever you can think of to make it different to normal bath time. The benefit of the warm water can do wonders for sick little bodies.
- Drawing – Plenty of paper, some crayons, textas and pencils and let them go crazy. Suggestions they can do include tracing toys, their own hands and feet or even you can trace their body and let them draw in their clothes and features.
There are probably many more and I would love to hear your kidlets favourite activity when they are sick in the comments.