During cold and flu season, it’s inevitable that you’ll catch something, especially from your kids. Taking a day off when you’re sick can be challenging, especially as a mom, but there are ways to manage it. Here’s what to do when you get sick as a mom and some essential “sick mom tips.”

Sick mom tips: Activating the horizontal parenting plan

This plan is about making things easier for yourself and creating moments where your children are occupied while you rest. Here are a few things you can add to the plan:

  • Have a sick kit ready: This could be part of your normal first-aid box or a specific kit for you. Stock up on canned soup, OTC medication like pain relievers, and hygiene supplies like sanitizer, tissue, and wipes.
  • Live in one room: If you have a toddler or baby, keep everything you need in one room and make it your resting place for the day. Bring diapers, formula, water, and snacks for yourself.
  • Bring out the secret stash: Have a box or bag full of toys, books, or art supplies that you only bring out on rare occasions. Your kids will be excited and entertained for hours.
  • Play low-energy games: Have them do all the running around or activities while you lie down. Play a game of “night night” where your child reads bedtime stories and sings lullabies to you. You can play Simon Says or have them look for objects around the house and bring them to you.

Communicating with your kids

Let your kids know you need extra resting time when you feel under the weather. Explain in age-appropriate ways how they can cooperate with you so you get some rest, especially if their daily routine might change. Reassure them that you will recover soon and everything will return to normal. It might help to remind them of a time when they were sick and what they needed then.

These sick mom tips are a great place to start when thinking about how to keep your kids occupied and cared for. While you might have a plan in place, it always helps to call a friend or loved one for help. Maybe you usually take your kids to school and soccer practice. Have your partner drop them off and ask a mom friend from the soccer club to drive them to and from practice.

If you have younger pre-k children, call your mom or mother-in-law to spend the morning or afternoon with them. They will be happy to spend time with their grandkids, and you get a few hours to yourself.

Adjusting rules and routines

Prioritize your recovery so you can get back on schedule. This means being more lenient with things you might usually be strict about. For example, you might usually go according to the two-hour recommended screen time limit for children 5 and up. New research suggests that parents create a plan based on the family and what works for their situation. In this case, a little extra screen time is OK. Look for educational, interactive, and age-appropriate material for your kids to engage with.

Skip activities that can be stressful, like getting your 5-year-old to eat vegetables or keep their pants on. If the weather is warm, there’s no harm in letting them run around half-dressed for a day, skipping bath time or brushing their teeth once.

Sick mom tips for mealtime

Embrace Microwave Meals or Takeout: If you’re a meal planner, you might have something in the freezer ready to be warmed up. If not, order takeout and call it a day. Even cereal works as long as your children are fed.

If your sickness lasts a few days, prepare a quick salad, grilled cheese and tomato soup, or a simple one-pot meal. The aim is to put as little strain on your body as possible while you recover.

Prioritizing your well-being

The most important sick mom tip is stop micromanaging your family. You need to take care of you. Everything else you plan for is to support you and aid in your recovery. Prioritize these four things and keep these sick mom tips in mind.

Seek help if you need it! Call the doctor if you notice any concerning or unusual symptoms, like worsening fever, extreme pain, and fatigue.

It’s OK to switch up your kids’ routine and let some things go undone so you can focus on recovery. Put a plan in place so you can rest and recover and go back to being a supermom in no time.

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