Tips for Caring for Kids When You're Sick

As a mother, you know how dependent your young kids are on you. They still require their needs met even if you're feeling so poorly that all you want to do is curl up in bed in a fetal position. Unless you have a nanny or a partner who can take time off of work to care for the kids, you have to find some reserves of inner strength to keep going and at least provide them with basic care.

Don't Be So Hard on Yourself

Women tend to be hard on themselves expecting much more from themselves than other people do including their ever-demanding young children. So give yourself a break and stifle your feelings of guilt. Your house isn't going to be run the way it normally would be. Your children may end up wearing food-encrusted clothes or running around with their hair uncombed for a couple of days. Laundry will slide and the dishes will pile up in the kitchen sink. Nutritious foods and snacks might be replaced in favor of canned ravioli and marshmallows. All of this is okay. None of this is going to hurt your child over the short term.


Every person who gets sick needs to rest as much as possible. There's nothing new to this advice. But resting can seem like an impossible option for moms, especially if you have infants and active preschoolers who are happy to get into anything and everything when you're not looking.

You might need to become innovative when it comes to resting. If you have a baby, you'll need to try to sleep when the baby is sleeping. Go to bed early at the same time as your children. Put on a movie or television show your preschooler likes and lie down on the couch with him or her. Even if the movie or show only keeps your preschooler engaged for 15 minutes, that's 15 minutes more rest than you had before.

Set up your kitchen table with arts and crafts and rest while the children are creating pieces of artwork for you.

Rest when your children are eating. If they can feed themselves, those few minutes that they're occupied will provide you with an extra moment or two to rest. If you need to take a pillow and lie down on the floor beside the kitchen table, then so be it. Being sick isn't glamorous and it's even less glamorous when you're a mom and you're sick.

Get Help

Don't be afraid to ask for help from neighbors, friends, community members, and family. It's true that not everyone has this option. But if you know anyone, even if it's just superficially through a community or connections between children, you might be surprised at how many people will be willing to give you some help. Help can come in the form of dropping off a meal for your family (even if it's just take-out) or a taking a child on a play date for a couple of hours.

Hire a babysitter if you must. It's always a good idea to have several babysitters you can call if need be.

Stop the Spread of Germs

The goal is to try not to get sick in the first place. While this seems like an impossible task with sick children running around, there are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of the illness spreading from your children to you.

There's nothing wrong with snuggling with your child if he or she is sick. But try to avoid kissing them on the lips or the cheeks. Babies especially tend to wipe the mucus from a runny nose to their cheeks and these germs get passed on to you when you kiss them. Try kissing the top of their heads instead. Wipe your child's hand frequently and get older children to wash theirs often. Wash your own hands frequently to reduce the spread of germs.