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12 Ways to Show Kids Love on Sick Days

Update: Day 4 of 14 Days of Loving-Kindness Challenge - How We're Adapting our Challenge to Accommodate Sick Days and How the Boys are Surprising Me! 

As I shared on Day 1 of our challenge, so often as a parent I make plans...and then life happens and they change. Yesterday the boys' prompt involved showing loving-kindness to new friends at the park, and I shared our play time plan of sharing bubbles, sand toys and cars. Then, at 1 a.m. of the same night I published the post about our park plans, Wild Thing got sick -- really sick, as in "strip the bed and throw the puke-covered child in the shower" sick. 

I knew our playground plans were out! However, during a painting activity, Wild Thing surprised me by (out of the blue) telling me that he was making cards for two of his friends. I smiled. Here he was, at home and sick, and yet still thinking of others and extending love to his friends. 

The prompt for today involves showing kindness to a parent (for the boys) and showing kindness to our children, for me. Prompted by that challenge and by a great discussion on my Facebook page yesterday about sick days, I decided to share these simple ways to show kids love on sick days. (Many of my favorite bloggers were involved in sharing ideas, so I'm sending some love to them in this post too by linking to their home page if a particular activity was their idea). What would you add to the list? 

1. Extra snuggles! Of course, this had to be on the top of the list. Making the sick child the priority and giving them the extra hugs and cuddles they need is so important. I find that often, these snuggles coincide with a special movie or book. 

2. Watch silly movies on Youtube - I loved this sick day idea from Kid World Citizen, who specifically shared that short videos of cute baby animals always cheer her sick kids up. 

3. Read together - Many people suggested this, and I find this is another way to demonstrate love, often by reading that favorite book over and over. We recently received a few new books in the mail that have come handy on our sick days.  

4. Water play - Water has a calming affect, so a loving bath, new bath toy or simple water pouring activity can raise a sick child's spirits or help them relax. This was a great suggestion from Pennies of Time.

5. Playdough - Often, children love playdough play, but parents don't. It's a wonderful quiet activity for sick days and can be something that feels extra special to a child, especially if (like me) you don't do playdough play quite as often as your children might like. Thanks All Done Monkey for this suggestion.  

6. Make up stories - Wild Thing loves it when I make up stories, especially stories about Max (from Where the Wild Things Are) or about Angry Birds. My dad shared that he made up stories about a child that was sick and how they got through their sickness. Clever!

7. Puzzles - We love puzzles, and I'll be pulling out some of our newer puzzles today, which we haven't played with recently. This will be a great sick day activity for Wild Thing. To show extra love, I'll also make sure I sprawl on the floor with him as we do the puzzles. I loved this idea from Sprout's Bookshelf.

8. Sticker Books - Another idea from Sprout's Bookshelf. I often have sticker books stashed for car trips or restaurant outings, digging into this stash for a sick day sounds perfect.

9. Make Art Together - Yesterday we did sponge painting and corn cob roll painting, which prompted Wild Thing to make cards for his friends. It reminded me what a loving activity art and creation can be.

10. Tablet Time - We don't do a lot of tablet time at our house. In fact, I don't own a tablet or smart phone, but my husband does and sharing his tablet with our son is definitely something that makes my son feel extra special. It's great that many educational apps are available, so parents don't have to feel bad about the extra screen time.  

11. Get Outside - Often, when kids are sick, outdoor play goes off the list. However, Jessica of Conveying Awareness reminded me that just 20 minutes outside can actually benefit a sick child as it can provide a Vitamin D boost. Do something outside together that your child loves -- take that time to be with them and soak up the rays together. They'll truly feel the love if you do. 

12. Special Object/Item Playtime - Afterschool with Smarty Pants shared that she likes to pull out a toy or book that the child hasn't seen in awhile. If you do a toy rotation, sick days can be a good day to bring new toys or books back into rotation.

The common thread with all of these to me is recognizing the child's needs and engaging with the child, not just setting them up with the tablet or show, but doing those activities with them. I know that my time is the most valuable way I show my child love -- on sick days and everyday! 

What is your special "sick day" activity?

P.S. I was also reminded today of the value of giving extra time and attention to the "well" sibling when another child in the family is sick. I was grateful this morning to be able to leave Wild Thing at home with Daddy for a few hours and take Caterpillar to the park. It made a big difference after a day yesterday where most of my focus was on his big brother. Plus, Caterpillar (my introvert) surprised me by sharing his car with a friend at the park, totally something I hoped and planned for us to do yesterday as part of the challenge and something he did with no prompting today!

You might also like:
Sibling Play: Cooking
Quite Time: Simple Toddler Carwash


  1. This list is awesome, Jennifer! I just pinned it to my raising children board. I actually love that you included a couple screen time activities, because - although we are a largely screen-free home (except my blogging addiction) - I find that I really appreciate electronics when my kids are sick! I also have been adding a little bit more screen time to our life since I discovered that one of my children listed watching shows together as a favorite family activity on a school assignment. Your non-screen activities are excellent, also!

  2. This is a great list. I can't think of anything to add. It very applicable for us today as my daughter is under the weather. It's definitely time for extra struggles and extra screen time for her today.

  3. So many great ways to help kids feel the love when they are sick. Pinning this one!


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