Fall is here. Our little ones will get sick.  Germs are good right? Build the immune system.  But then we will get sick. We will be sick and tired and the kids recover fast and run circles around us on the sofa wanting us to play.  I am prone to sinus infections and every so often my neck “goes out” or my sciatica flares up. Those days you wish parenting was something you could call in sick for.  Here is a quick list on ways to entertain our children when we fall ill or recover from surgery, or become largely pregnant, or are trying to keep a baby inside.

Card Games. From matching games for toddlers to Go Fish and Old Maid. Try “War” for the older kids. Brain-building and fine-motor practice lies here. Tic Tac Toe is a great first game for little ones. Even when I’m not sick I beg my 6-year-old to do this with me rather than other kinds of play in the late afternoon. Because work and momming (new verb) means I’m just always tired and “Be my dolly and make her talk” makes me mentally exhausted some days. You can get card holders like the one above for little hands. My daughter actually started Uno at 2 years old. 

Download some new music,  learn the words together and watch them dance. We love Rock All Day/ Rock All Night by Katryna and Nerissa Nields, celebrate Pete Seeger with American Folk Songs for Children, or learn songs in a new language like Lucienne Vernay’s Songs in French or anything by Ella Jenkins.  You can encourage your child to drum for you, dance for you and you can clap and take videos.

Teach Deep Breathing and Meditation. Not only will this help you, but if you have been too busy to teach these skills to your child, here is your opportunity! If you need help, get a CD.

The Art of Massage! Teach your child how to massage herself and even you. This builds fine and gross motor skills and facilitates connection and empathy. Coconut oil or a coconut-based lotion is safe for kids. If you get coconut oil on linens, you can always get it off this way.

Foam Darts. I know most of us aren’t fans of guns in any way but those old foam dart guns with suction cups that stick to the wall have been vital for me so that I can be laid up and my child can exercise! We shoot the darts across the room onto the wall and I have her reach to get them off and bring them back to me. 😉

Learn ASL Together.  (American Sign Language). Look up a website and figure out new ways to communicate with one another using hands. This is excellent if you have a sore throat. Easily learn new ASL words here: signingsavvy.com or Handspeak.com.

Play Picture Guessing. Hand your preschooler your camera phone and have him take random pictures from around the house and bring them back to show you. You have to guess what it is and where they were (as often kid pictures are blurry/too close/hilarious).

Or, you know, always books. 😉 But learn from my mistake – don’t let LEGOs in your bed!

As a sleep coach, I KNOW tired parents. So if what you really need is some silence, let your little one know you plan to nap, model sleep by closing your eyes and not interacting and let them do their thing around you. Don’t feel guilty about needing rest, parents. Model self-care. It is a very important lesson for our kids to learn from us. 

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