Cold and Flu Season: How to Survive with Sick Kids

twin toddlers crying and looking up cold and flu season

Find out how to survive cold and flu season when your kids are sick and you’re stuck inside the house trying to manage the insanity.

Winter is full of family fun activities: holiday shopping, parties to attend, playing in the snow, holiday baking, and Christmas traditions. But all those plans and activities come to a screeching halt when the kids get sick during cold and flu season!

This was my 2018 holiday season: 3 kids x 3-day flu = 9 days straight of winter break sickness! Each child took their turn and I’m still not sure if it was a blessing that each kid was sick for three different days instead of them all being sick at the same time. Are three REALLY REALLY bad days better than nine REALLY bad days? 

baby using nebulizer cold and flu season

I spent 14 hours a day in my recliner rocking a sick child. Once we were through the sickness I didn’t sit in that chair for five days! I tried to enjoy the cuddles but, in my experience, all the patience, grace, and compassion I have for my children goes right out the window when they are sick.

I’ve asked multiple friends with older children than mine, “At what age do children just want to lay around, sleep, and watch TV when they are sick?” No one will give me a direct answer to this question. 

Having lived through cold and flu season with kids many times, here are some essential instructions for surviving being stuck in a house with sick kids:

Revert to newborn rules

Sick kids are a lot like newborns. They are up all night crying, they want to be held, and they throw up on you. 

My biggest survival tip? Revert back to the rules of having a newborn! Sleep when they sleep. We all know that sick infants and toddlers spend more time awake when they are sick, so when that glorious time comes that they actually sleep, you sleep too! I mean it, drop everything, and sleep! 

dad holding sick little boy cold and flu season

Tea time!

Sip tea! Plenty of research shows that drinking tea can actually improve your health and boost your immune system. As moms, we spend our days and nights in direct contact with germs. We’re sleep-deprived and lacking in energy; who couldn’t use a little immunity boost, not to mention the caffeine? Plus it is tasty!

This Seasonal Sampler made by Traditional Medicinals is a great assortment of teas to get you through cold and flu season (buy on Amazon). The box includes Throat Coat tea, Echinacea Plus tea, Breathe Easy tea, and Gypsy Cold Care tea.

Clean only what is necessary

Put on blinders for the messes. Clean only what is necessary: soiled sheets, blankets, and towels. Leave the dishes dirty, the toys scattered throughout the house, and the beds unmade. It will all still be waiting for you to do. Maybe you’ll get to it tomorrow or even next week, so you might as well save the energy and sanity for your sick kids.

This will pass, and when it does, you will have plenty of time to catch up on chores. Give yourself a break when sickness takes over your home at cold and flu season.

little girl fell asleep at the table cold and flu season

It’s all about survival

Do what you must to survive! When my kids are sick, the screen/TV time rules are erased. I will let my kids play the iPad for hours and watch movies all day if it provides them with some needed rest and gives me a little downtime too. 

Stay home

Cancel plans and DO NOT worry about the backlash from friends and family! Let’s be honest here, it is not fun to take sick kids out in public and (let’s get even more real) it’s not sanitary to expose the public to your sick kids, especially when the public are your loved ones. 

No one in your family, including yourself, will enjoy that family party with sick, contagious, whiny kids in tow. Do yourself a favor and sit this one out. If your family doesn’t understand, OH WELL! You really are doing them a favor by not exposing them to whatever illness is plaguing your family at the time during cold and flu season

little girl snuggled up with mom cold and flu season

Put on your oxygen mask first

Take care of yourself! Moms do not get sick days. We buck up and take one for the team and just work through our sickness, no matter how awful we feel. Try to eat something healthy, try to soak in a bath or have a hot shower, and take a multi-vitamin! I know this may seem selfish, but it’s not! One of the most important things a parent can do when their child is sick, is to take care of themselves. 

Let the fresh air in

Get some fresh air. Open a window, take a walk around the block….whatever allows you a few minutes to really refresh the air quality of your home and your attitude. 

Caring for sick kids is a rollercoaster ride; just when you think the ride is over, it can start over again. It’s important to remind yourself that this sickness, too, shall pass. And take a multi-vitamin!

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amanda hadleyAmanda Hadley is a mom to a sassy seven-year-old, and 3-year-old wondrous monster twins. She is a mom first and a photographer and journalist second. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband of 10 years. She spends her days repeating cliches she was sure she would never say, such as “because I said so” and “stop licking that”. She is an accomplished cartoon theme song repeater, and has no idea what is happening in current events and dreams of traveling to exotic places, alone. She enjoys hot cups of coffee, silence and Atlanta Braves baseball.

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