Tips for parenting when sick

Trying to parent while your sick can be an absolute nightmare.

By Melissa Grant

There’s nothing fun about being sick. But feeling under the weather when you are a parent is the stuff nightmares are made of, especially if the kids are at home all day.

All you want to do is crawl back into bed. Meanwhile, all your kids want to do is run around, make a lot of mess and eat snacks.

Sadly you can’t take a sick day (wouldn’t that be amazing). So how are you going to survive until you are feeling better?

There are things you can do to help ease the load even if you can’t get a babysitter, according to midwife and Philips Avent ambassador Edwina Sharrock.

“Unfortunately, calling in sick isn’t an option when you are a parent,” she said.

“We often pressure ourselves to constantly be on the go and to be the best version of ourselves for our kids.

“But, it’s important to take care of ourselves.”

Here are Edwina’s top tips to help you survive parenting while sick:

Do Less: Practice the same compassion for yourself as you would for others. There is no shame in slowing down and resting.

Ask for help: Although it isn’t always possible, asking for help from a loved one or a childminder is a great way to ensure you have enough time to rest.

Self-care: Whether it’s finding time for a bath or getting outside for some Vitamin D, making time for yourself and listening to what your body needs is really important.

Easy meals: Whether it’s ordering groceries to be delivered, getting takeaway or having eggs on toast for dinner, as long as the kids are fed and happy, that’s all that matters.

Cancel plans: From after school swimming lessons to gymnastics, we’re always running around after our kids however prioritising your health is far more important. Cancelling plans every once in a while so that you can properly rest won’t harm your child’s development.

Movie day: Everyone has different rules on screen time, however popping on a movie so you can relax on the couch when you’re sick is nothing to feel guilty about.

Telehealth: Getting out of the house to go to the doctor can be tough when you have kids to care for. Fortunately, there is a variety of medical services now easily available online through Telehealth.

The last thing you want to do while you are feeling like death warmed up is to pass on your illness to your children or partner.

Edwina says the best way to prevent your illness spreading is to practice good hygiene by regularly washing your hands and coughing/sneezing into tissues or on your elbow. It’s also a good idea to educate your kids.

“Teaching your children good hygiene practices and explaining why they are important is an essential part of keeping your whole family healthy and well,” Edwina said.

“If you are really unwell, quarantine yourself in a separate room of the house and organise for someone to look after your children.”

If you’re breastfeeding, Edwina said it is generally safe to keep doing so when you’re sick.

“Your baby won’t catch most common illnesses like colds, flu, stomach bugs, fever and mastitis through breastmilk. In fact, it contains protective antibodies,” she said.

However, she said that breastfeeding while sick can be tiring so it is a good idea to get extra help to allow time to rest after feeding. It’s also important to stay hydrated.

“Even if you can’t stomach much food, your body will continue to supply milk if you are keeping up your fluids.”

Edwina also recommended using a breast pump so you can express in advance and let someone else take the night feeding shift.

“Even if you’re really unwell and cannot manage to breastfeed your baby, your body will still be producing milk so breast pumping is a great way to manage your milk supply in the meantime,” she added.