It can be hard enough managing your kids and keeping them happy when you’re fit and healthy. So what happens if you’re unwell for a few days? We’ve all been there after all. You want nothing more than to lie in bed or on the couch to relax, but your kids simply don’t understand why you can’t play with them. Because it’s not socially acceptable to lock yourself locked in the one room to avoid infecting the entire neighbourhood, you will be forced to show your face at some point.
Of course, normally, when you explain to your kids that you need to rest because you’re tired and sick, they will respond with warmth and sympathy, and will even quiet down for a while to help you nap. Not Short Rib, mind, he’s a bit too young to understand what illness even is, despite his recent bout of the pox. With the younger ones (and sometimes even the older ones) even the heaviest colds won’t put them off and they’ll soon come to you hoping for fun and games. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to respond with something other than a groan and rolling over on the sofa.
You will need ideas for games that you can try, ones that don’t actually require you to get out of bed or off the couch or do anything strenuous. Luckily in this day and age, there are a few things that will come to your rescue.
Have them build a fort
A sure-fire way to make sure you’re their favourite parent in spite of their ailments, but if may mean you have to sit on your armchair without any kind of padding. Kids love little forts built with cushions, bed covers, boxes or anything else. Once the fort has been erected, all you need to do is to get in there with you children. While you let them do whatever they will do, you lie down and get some shuteye. The very fact that you’re in there with them will make your children believe that you’re playing with them. Which you are! You’re the Snorlax guarding the bridge… or something.
If you can deal with them mithering you (on purpose) then a great way to teach your little one about illness if their old enough, is to have them pretend to be a Doctor. You don’t have to move, just lay there on the couch and watch your child painstakingly examine you and come to their own diagnosis and treat you accordingly. The most physical effort you’ll be required to put in is raising your arm to be bandaged… because that cures EVERYTHING in a child’s mind.
Try quality phone games
I know, bad parent, booo hisss. Whether or not you approve of long periods of phone time for your kids, you should take advantage of them when you’re ill and simply need to be left alone. While there are any number of games for children that you might choose, you want to look for something that’s wholesome as well as calming to the mind. It can’t do to let your children play an action video game, for example (because Short Rib on Call of Duty might be hilarious, but it won’t do anything for your headache). You don’t want to encourage your offspring to prance all around pretending to be their favourite characters (especially if that character has a noisy weapon or general hysterical demeanour). Colouring apps like Mandala colouring pages, on the other hand, can be a wonderful resource. They involve the colouring of intricately drawn flowers, animals, and patterns, and can quietly absorb children for hours. This also means you won’t be chasing your kid down trying to stop them creating a felt-tip mural on your walls…
Try a storytelling game
Storytelling or pretending does involve putting your mind to work. If you can bear to put up with it, this is a game that can really work. There are many versions of storytelling games that involve only a minimal amount of work for the parent. One example would be a game where you pretend to be a sick old wizard or witch, with an important secret story to tell, only your too sick to tell more than a couple of words of it at a time. The children need to use their imagination to fill in the gaps. It’s a compelling game that only requires a little work.
Another storytelling game involves having a child re-tell a story that you’ve been reading them. If it’s a child too young to read, this game can be particularly hysterical. Your child looks at the pages and wracks their brains trying to remember what they thinks the writing tells. Often, your child ends up telling an entirely different story (sometimes arguably better than the book). It’s a game that forces your child to use some imagination. All the while, you just lie there like a lump, questioning how you could have created a tiny human with such a scatterbrain.
It isn’t hard to find ways to get some rest while you still entertain the children (the easiest way is to wait until they’ve gone to bed of course). The more you look for these ways, the more you’ll find and really, if all else fails, you can just whack CBeebies on… after all, whilst we hate to admit it, the television is a wonderful babysitter when you’re really in a pinch.
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