It’s inevitable. No matter how meticulous you are in your eating habits and hygiene; no matter how careful you are in your activities; and especially the more you have planned and scheduled—there will be sick days. They come in all shapes and sizes, seasons and spells. Sometimes they’re simply “sick of school” days. Whatever the scope, it’s best to be ready for the subsequent disruption.
Seasoned homeschool moms will tell you that when there is illness, it’s time to rest through reading. Children can lie snuggled in blankets, near compassionate Mother who is reading aloud to everyone. It’s a nice picture, but what if it’s Mom who is sick? What if Mom’s head is pounding and eyeballs throbbing? What if her throat hurts or she’s hacking or has lost her voice? What if there are younger children who are sick and need Mother’s full attention while older siblings who are healthy and wanting to be active can’t stand reading another minute? That’s when it’s time to pull out your Sick Day Preparation Kit.
The idea is to have a secret stash of engaging educational items that are fresh and inviting, but which don’t require much supervision from Mom. These can be one-time consumables, or objects which can be used over and over again but which may only “come out to play” on sick days. They can even be new items to add to a favorite family collection such as a new puzzle, card or board game, or Quantum Leap cartridge. The point is to have an attention grabbing, time occupying diversion that frees up Mom to either heal or be healed, but which enriches the child in the pursuit.
This bit of inspiration came to me during my last illness, when I was horribly sick in bed for a week while the other 6 members of my family were fabulously, vivaciously healthy. I could barely move or even talk and wanted nothing more than silent slumber. My precious ones could only handle so much of my checking out. They were bored and “Mommy lonely.” At last they were taking to mischief when they found some science kits I’d tucked away to do together “someday,” as well as a special recipe book (The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions by John E. and Danita Thomas) that had always been on the shelf but which lay forgotten. Long story short, many happy hours thus passed wherein I rested peacefully while my children turned mad scientist, laughing and learning quite independently. When I finally came to, I realized that my illness and those activities were an ideal match. I much preferred the kids making those messes when I was too sick to care about it. I had been waiting for the perfect day to do those things—when the kitchen was “ready,” when there was no hurry or other distraction, when I felt like it, when the stars aligned. It turns out the perfect day was when I was sick!
It might sound daunting or expensive to make a Sick Day Preparation Kit, but it really doesn’t have to be. Plenty of great items can be found at the dollar store, or in a bargain bin. You don’t have to rush right out and buy, buy, buy. Just pick something up here and there when you find it and tuck it away for that future emergency.
Other suggestions to get you started:
*Pictureka!—a game even very young children can play happily by themselves
*Crayola’s Model Magic
*Disposable cameras—let kids take pictures of their toys or anything that strikes their fancy
*Easy all-in-one craft kits
*Paint with water books
*The History Channel’s Modern Marvels DVDs, the Magic School Bus DVDs, or any educational video viewing your family would enjoy.
And if you find yourself with a scratchy throat but still needing to read aloud, I recommend Ricola’s Natural Honey Lemon with Echinacea Throat Drops. Be prepared and get well!