If you’re having a day at home with a sick child, what they probably needs most of all is rest. But this need not be bed-bound; for a child whose illness is mild, or for one who’s on the mend, that would be spectacularly boring. The NHS states that, if children say they don’t need to be in bed, they probably don’t.
While watching TV can be relaxing for an unwell child - and gives you a chance to make a meal or catch up on household chores - it’s best restricted to short periods. Rest is equally important, so allow the child to dictate the pace of the day, engaging them in peaceful pastimes when they're up to it, so they'll be more likely to rest well in between times. You’ll be helping her to recover; plus, you get to spend some quality time together.
Here are five activities for you both to enjoy:
The great thing about arts and crafts is that they appeal to all ages and can be focused in any direction, depending on your child’s interests. Bring out crayons, colouring pens, pipe cleaners, ribbons, stickers, wool - whatever you have to hand - and their eyes will light up.
Even if your child wants to make something ambitious - like a lunar module or a lunchbox for Rapunzel - don’t feel you need to dash out to a stationery shop or haberdashery.
Improvise! Empty cereal boxes, egg cartons and loo rolls often save the day. Don't worry if you’re not a natural in the craft department - the point is the process, not the end product.
It’s about children using their imaginations, thus creating a distraction from feeling under the weather and frustration from being stuck indoors.
Playing games which employ mental rather than physical energy is a good way to keep your child occupied, and for her to enjoy some interaction with you. Energetic games are probably out, but you’re bound to have some board games that they haven’t looked at in a while; equally, there are lots of games using household objects, or just pens and paper.
Anything that can be played sitting still - at a table, on the sofa or even in bed - will provide minimum-exertion entertainment.
Memory games are good: get a tray and place random objects on it (how many should be dependent on her age); allow her a minute or so to absorb what’s there, cover the tray with a tea-towel and see how many she remembers.
Hangman is another fun one, especially as you can tailor word choices to your child’s interests (cars, fairy tale princesses, football teams and so on). Cards are a good option: a simple game of Snap! for tots; Go Fish for older kids; Gin Rummy, perhaps, for tweens.
Not literally, of course. Save that for when they're fighting fit. But it’s amazing how children - particularly young ones - are inspired by make-believe situations, and an area of a bedroom or living room is easily transformed into a tent, providing not only a snuggle space but also a change of scene.
All you need is a couple of blankets or sheets to drape over chairs or other bits of furniture; some washing line pegs or tape to secure them; sleeping bags or duvets, plus pillows, for beds; and then whatever provisions your child sees fit - a torch, some books and a water bottle, maybe. You could make it even more fun by bringing in some cuddly animals. And for an added treat, make some little sandwiches, cut up some carrots and cucumber (or whatever they feel like eating) and turn lunch into a picnic.
Bath time need not always precede bedtime; a sick day is a good excuse to break the rules and if you think a bath will provide some welcome distraction, any time is good.
In addition to your child’s favourite bath toys, various objects can provide amusement: cups, bowls, jugs and wooden spoons can be used for pouring, stirring and measuring.
Maybe, with the addition of some bath foam, they'll make you a cappuccino.
This isn’t the time to teach your child elaborate dishes, but simple cooking can provide a welcome diversion. Not only that, but children who have lost their appetites through illness may be more tempted to have a nibble if they’ve prepared the food themselves.
Your child may not have the energy to whisk ingredients, so why not prepare (easier still, buy!) some cupcakes or biscuits the night before and let them do the decorating. Icing sugar and water is all you need to mix to make drizzle icing, and then they can add sprinkles, stars and chocolate drops.
Frozen fruit juice pops are easy and fun to make. Fill ice cube trays with whatever juice they choose, then simply place a stick in each one as they begin to freeze. Jelly-making, too, is always a favourite.
The makers of CALPOL® understand that when your child is feeling poorly, you want to help get them bouncing back to their normal self again. The CALPOL® range of products have been specially developed for children. To find the right product from the makers of CALPOL®, visit Calpol.co.uk. CALPOL® Infant Suspension contains paracetamol, for pain and fever relief. Suitable for infants from 2 months old (weighing over 4kg and not premature). Always read the label.
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