Family life

What to drop off at your friend's house if everyone has COVID

With variants spreading more easily, whole families are coming down with coronavirus. If you know a family that is sick with COVID, here's what they need most.

What to drop off at your friend's house if everyone has COVID

Photo: iStock/PixelsEffect

Note: Please check your provincial and regional guidelines regarding essential outings and consider delivery when possible.

It's hard to ignore the sad fact that COVID numbers are once again on the rise across Canada, with variants of concern gaining momentum. Being hit with the virus now, after getting through a year of pandemic life, is a really tough go for already-weary families.

Toronto mom Kat Antonopoulos and her three school-aged kids tested positive for a COVID variant at the beginning of April. Since then, they’ve been riding a roller coaster of symptoms and a lot of emotions while isolating at home. “It has been absolutely exhausting,” says Antonopoulos. “But, thankfully, our friends have gone above and beyond for us.”

Here are some ideas from families with firsthand experience about the most useful items for recovering from COVID at home with kids.


1. Snacks and meals that are quick and easy

Though most of us have perfected the sport of online grocery shopping at this point, the effort it takes to put together a list can be overwhelming for someone who is symptomatic or caring for a household of sick family members.

Schedule a grocery delivery with a good mix of grab-and-go snack foods, like the kind you would put in a school lunch box:

  • granola bars
  • single-serve yogurts
  • crackers
  • snack-sized cheeses
  • mini croissants
  • pepperoni sticks
  • fruit cups

For lunches and dinners, think:

  • pre-made soups and chilis
  • buns and deli meats
  • oven-ready pizzas
  • lasagnas
  • quiches
  • casseroles

Ice cream, pudding, Jello and Popsicles are great add-ons for sore throats. Ginger ale for nausea and electrolyte drinks for hydration would be appreciated, too.


Britney Cooper* from Abbottsford, B.C. says she, her husband and 12-year-old son, who all tested positive last week, have appreciated gift cards for take-out. “It's been really hard to find the energy to prepare or cook food when we are feeling so unwell,” she says. Since families in quarantine aren’t able to do curbside pick-up, UberEats and DoorDash gift cards can provide more options.

2. Medicine cabinet items that might have run out

Headaches, body aches and fevers are common coronavirus symptoms, and when multiple family members are symptomatic at once, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can run out quickly. Check on the preferred flavour and format for any kids under 12 (chewable vs. liquid). Cough meds and menthol rub are also helpful if there are any chest symptoms going on.

“The only thing that made my oldest son’s and my throat feel better was medical-grade lozenges,” says Antonopoulos. Throat sprays can also relieve discomfort and can be used in children over the age of three, as directed. Antonopoulos found a nasal spray really helped to relieve sinus pressure.

Speaking of sinuses, the softer the tissues are the better, says Cooper. Several brands have options infused with lotion or aloe, and little noses might prefer the moistened nose wipes (maybe the grown-ups, too!). Epson salts and bubble bath for long soaks can be added to a pharmacy run. If you have a heating pad or hot water bottle to drop off, Antonopoulos says the extra warmth is very soothing for managing aches and pains.

3. Toys and anything else that entertains

Even in families with kids that are old enough to self-entertain, quiet chill-out activities will be super appreciated. Consider dropping off:

  • card games
  • board games
  • colouring books
  • puzzles
  • crosswords and word searches
  • easy arts and crafts
  • books and magazines
  • your family's personal iPad (write "Take your time and return it when you're feeling better" on the card)

If your kids are friends with the children in the sick family, suggest some virtual hangouts, online gaming or a movie night using Netflix Party to help keep the kids connected socially.

4. Kindness and encouragement

Being in and out of school all year has been hard on most kids. With the added loneliness of being in COVID isolation, when energy for tackling online school might not be there, check-ins are really appreciated.

“There is a very hushed mentality about it,” says Cooper, who is grateful to have so many non-judgmental friends supporting them. “Having my son be able to talk honestly with his friends about it, has been so important.”

And it’s not just the kids who need some extra reassurance and care.

“Having three kids at home while you are physically incapable of full-throttle parenting has been scary,” admits Antonopoulos, who has counted on a steady stream of texts and funny videos from friends. “I hope we can pay forward the kindness we’ve received from our community to anyone who needs it.”


*Name has been changed.

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