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What to Do When You're a Sick Parent

Coping With a Cold or the Flu While Taking Care of Your Kids

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Unfortunately, there will be times when you come down with some type of illness, such as a nasty cold or the flu, and you'll have to figure out how to take care of yourself while also taking care of your kids. Here are some tips to help you get through a temporary illness:
  • Take Off
    One of the best ways to speed your own recovery is to take a day off when you need to. Even if you're trying to save up your sick days for those times when your kids are sick, taking care of yourself is a must. If it helps, ask yourself what advice you'd give a friend in the same situation. Would you tell her to stay in bed for a day and get better? Then allow yourself that same latitude.

  • Take it Easy
    If you absolutely cannot take off of work, ask yourself what you can do to take it easy until you're feeling better. If a typical work day is "fourth gear" for you, what would "second gear" look like?

  • Drink Lots of Fluids
    Of course, you've heard this recommendation before, and it's a rule you follow when your kids get sick. But do you follow this rule yourself? Drinking extra fluids when you're sick really will help the illness to pass through your system more quickly. Try mixing one half cup of hot tea with one half cup of grapefruit juice.

  • Let Others Help You
    It's okay to accept help from your friends and neighbors. If someone offers to watch your kids for you while you rest for a bit, consider taking them up on it! Or, if a friends asks you whether she can drop off some chicken soup, don't hesitate to say "Yes." You can always return the favor at another time.

  • Let Your Kids Pitch In
    This might actually be a good time for your kids to naturally step up their own participation in the household management. If they offer to make dinner, let them! (It's perfectly okay for them to warm leftovers in the microwave or even eat cold cereal while you're recuperating.) Take advantage of their willingness to help and look for little ways they can each contribute while you focus on getting better.

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