Keep kids occupied until they feel better with these sick-day diversions
When kids get sick, they need rest, TLC and endless entertainment. These 10 ideas will make sure they get plenty of all three.
When they’re well, we try to limit screen time, but sick days offer a rare chance for kids to doze away the day in front of the tube. Plug them into an old familiar favourite (so no one gets upset if they sleep through the good parts). Older kids might love retro fun flick The Princess Bride (which begins as a story read to sick-at-home kid). Bonus: you can dazzle your sickie with your ability to recite the movie from memory. A back-to-back Harry Potter-a-thon will magik away any multi-day illness. Little ones will like Toy Story, Cars or Strawberry Shortcake. Older kids might go for the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, Mean Girls, Holes or the Indiana Jones trilogy.
Stuffed up kids will feel better with a little steam therapy, so haul out swim suits and snorkel masks for some deep-tub-diving. Add animals, bubbles, or souvenir seashells. Convert a plastic bottle into a boat. On dry land, put some surf rock on the stereo, don sunglasses and hats, and roll out beach towels for a picnic lunch in the living room. No sunscreen required.
Glam it up
Turn sick day into a spa day. Slather on flavoured lip balm (for chapped lips), don a lavender-scented sleep mask, and snuggle with a microwave-warmable heating pad. Glam up a boring box of tissues with stick-on gems or fancy stickers. A plain chicken soup lunch becomes fancy with good china, candles and cloth napkins. Flat ginger ale gets fancy with crazy straws or little umbrellas.
Dig out old photo albums, the laptop or the iPad and tell your ailing kidlet about the good old days. Use a glue stick and a bag of googly eyes to create silly magazine or family photos, or jazz up dollar store photo frames with glitter, stickers and other add-ons.
Pull out all of your stuffed animals and make your kid Chief Zoo Keeper. Create habitats from boxes and look after the animals in your insta-zoo. Send a sniffly lion or feverish giraffe to the vet. Even better: pitch a blanket tent, grab some cardboard tube binoculars and go on safari in the living room.
Collaborative drawing is a fun activity for kids of any age, especially if you’ve got more than one patient. Start with a squiggle and take turns adding to the line until the drawing is complete. Trace the sick kids’ profile or entire body on a sheet of paper and let them colour it in. Older kids can take a roll of clear contact paper and some permanent markets, and trace pictures or draw freehand to create their own DIY removable vinyl stickers. Tweens can tie-dye a t-shirt with (drip-free!) permanent markers.
For low-key literary fun, get your little author to write a story on a simple book made of paper folded and stapled together. Start with a sentence and see where it goes. Write about a funny family anecdote or pen a silly love poem to the dog. Illustrate with drawings, stickers or snippets from magazines.
Whether they’ve got the sniffles or something more serious, a day reading in bed can be a precious luxury. Pick a picture book or chapter book and snuggle up together for a read-aloud break every hour or two.
Great books for wee ones:
A Sick Day For Amos McGee
Llama Llama Home With Mama
Bear’s Loose Tooth
Katie Catches a Cold
The Quiet Book
New readers can try:
When Daddy Had the Chicken Pox
The Sick Day
Peter, The Knight With Asthma
Tweens can turn to a stash of manga, or superhero comics. For novels, try:
The Giant Slayer (which starts as a tale told to hospital-bound kids)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Teens might go for a classic like To Kill A Mockingbird, or math-related graphic novel The Number Devil .
Give little ones assorted objects—toys, dried pasta, beads or buttons—and have them sort into like piles of colours or shapes. Muffin tins or egg cartons will keep things organized. Little helpers can take on the unmatched socks basket. Big kids can pick through a jumbled toy bin for lost game pieces and other AWOL toys. Tweens can troll for treasure in the junk drawer or a costume jewelry box.
If the illness is light, cabin fever has set in, or your kid is on the mend, getting outside can be a good attitude adjustment for everyone. Venture out for a hot chocolate at the coffee shop, or just take a short stroll around the block. It’s amazing what a little fresh air and sunshine will do.