The Sick Day

It was bound to happen – the weather has changed pretty significantly in the last two weeks and we’re now firmly on our way to crisp fall days and cold nights. It’s also brought on a round of colds – Diva and Footballer started with a daycare cold, which spread to their parents and then spread to me. Glo-Worm had a strange week last week – never really sick, but seemingly on the verge of getting sick. She was weak and pale, often shaky after her naps, and very cranky. Either way, whoever gave this virus to me definitely wanted to share! I started getting chills and a sore throat on Saturday night, while babysitting the twins, and it quickly escalated to a low-grade fever and sinus pain. I spent yesterday mostly asleep, and today, I’m taking a sick day since I’m coughing, sneezing, and scratchy-throated. Yuck.

So, what happens when I’m not off work and have to nanny sick? Or when I have to nanny sick children? Both can be a recipe for disaster, but they do come up every so often. Kids sometimes get sick during your shift, and I’ve dealt with my share of vomit, diarrhea, mucus and other bodily fluids from all ages. There’s not a lot you can do besides call Mom and Dad to come home and try to make the sick little one as comfortable as possible. I have carte blanche in most houses to use Advil and Tylenol as I see fit, so if a child has a fever, I will try to make them comfortable with medicine, cold cloths and lots of cuddles. Sometimes a cool bath can help, too. But when you’re looking after a child with a lingering, annoying cold, that’s too bad to go out but not bad enough to stay in bed, what do you do?

I’ve mentioned many times that I don’t like TV and electronics, but this is a perfect time to use them. A special treat like a game on the iPad or a movie can really be nice for a little guy who’s feeling punky. But when TV and electronics time gets boring, I like to play other, low-key games that can keep a sick kid’s attention!

1. Go Fish: any kid over the age of about 4 can play this game, and it’s great also for teaching patterns and pairing. Lots of places have picture Go Fish cards and this can work for kids even younger than 4. Also related to this game – Memory. Most kids love to play this game and ask for it again and again!

2. Drawing: crafts are fun, but complicated crafts can be too much work for someone feeling under the weather. I like to play the drawing game – guess what I’m drawing! It gets kids’ imaginations going and mine, too! I often have to really reach into my imagination to guess what they’re drawing. This can kill at least an hour – most kids love to draw and put the finishing touches on drawing!

3. Writing letters: older kids may not like the idea of writing letters at first, but when you tell them they can write to anyone they want, living or dead, the idea gets a lot more fun! Most kids choose to write to Santa, but I had a kid write to the prime minister, one to Neil Armstrong, and one to Darth Vader!

4. Baking: making cookies for a kid with a cold can be a lot of fun (as long as you warn everyone else that germy little hands may have touched the cookie dough!). Kids love to stir and bake, and they can do most of it sitting down, so as not to tax healing bodies. This obviously won’t work for a child with a stomach virus, but anyone else seems to enjoy it!

5. Reading: when a child is too sick to get off the couch, reading a book, snuggled up to you, can sometimes be the best thing to do to keep boredom at bay. I love to seek out the most comforting stories that may just make the little sickie fall asleep.

When I’m sick, well . . . I push through it. I never go over without warning my bosses that I have a cold first. I never go over if I have a stomach virus or other illness like that. I leave the choice in my families’ hands – some don’t mind if I come over with a cold, but others really don’t want me around their kids (understandably so!) until I’m all better or at least not contagious anymore!

What do you do with your sick little ones?

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