Sick tricks 

A box of magnetic building toys and an audiobook go a long way when entertaining five kids for the afternoon.

A few weeks ago I ran into a coworker and longtime friend who I hadn’t seen in months so we had the obligatory catch-up chat during which he said that his wife had had a bad cold and was finding it really difficult to be bedridden. What made it particularly hard for her was that she felt she couldn’t be the kind of mom she wants to be. 

I told him that I understood her frustration because I’ve felt it many times. Then I shared what I’ve learned about being a sick parent: you don’t need to be at your best to be the best parent. 

Here are some of my sick day tricks:


Pizza pyjama movie nights. We get into our pjs right after school, order pizza, and lay on the couch watching movies until bedtime. 

See an afternoon matinee (or two). Relaxing in comfy chairs, in a dark air conditioned room is perfect. And it gives us something to talk about for the rest of the day. 

Cloud watching, chalk drawing, skateboard practise, bubble blowing. These are all outdoor activities she can do while I sit on our front steps (or lay down on the lawn if necessary.) 

Play time at Ikea or McDonald’s. I find a comfy chair and a tea while she burns off some energy by climbing and running. Bonus points if I text a friend to meet us there – instant play date for her and some nice mum chats for me. 

Play with tiny toys. We have some old Polly Pocket compacts from the 90s which are offer an entire world to explore without requiring you to ever get up and move. Colouring, play dough, and Lego are similar. 

Find good friends (or family). Our best friends have 4 kids so on bad day we often spend the evening there. My daughter is part of the pack and is thoroughly entertained. My friends feed her along with theirs, and I lay on the couch being a blob. I don’t know what we’d do without them. 

Bedtime snuggles with the iPad. Because my illness affects my vision, and sometimes my speech, reading bedtime stories can be tricky. That’s when I’m especially grateful for all those books I have memorized (I’m looking at you Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar) as well as cbeebies bedtime stories on YouTube. 

In short, what I’ve realized is that kids don’t really care what you do with them. They just want you with them. 

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