Things I Do When I Am Stuck with a Sick Child


As working mom, I am always looking for time to do things I postpone in favor of bigger priorities: time for a bikini wax, time to visit the Whole Foods now that Amazon has taken over, time to run to the bank, or even hit up the neighborhood bakery for a slice of cake. I do really well ninety percent of the time. Activities and errand running are scheduled and logged onto my daily calendar. My husband and I are on an active chat during the day for any last-minute changes, like drinks with clients for him or a late meeting for me.  I am in constant planning mode. Except when cold season comes around. Colds, the flu,  and stomach viruses cannot be scheduled into a calendar. They happen and we parents deal — I hoard my sick leave for that reason.

For instance, last week, we were just about ready to head out for our Tuesday (shoes were already on), but my daughter Ilse was not her usual happy self and quite lethargic. I made a judgment call and kept her home, which derailed my perfectly planned workday. Besides nursing Ilse’s cold with our trusty Nose Frida and Tylenol, I began to think about activities we could do together that would require very little energy on her part and chores I could tackle while I was home. For any parent, any “free time” is a gift and one that should not be wasted. In no particular order, here is a list of things I do when I am stuck at home with a sick child.

  1. Nap when she naps. Who doesn’t need a power nap on a weekday?!
  2. Read back issues of magazines I subscribe to. I think I’ve caught up to August.
  3. Write: for the blog, in my journal, a thank you card.
  4. Run a few neighborhood errands: She gets fresh air; I accomplish a few chores during a non-busy time.
  5. Plan for dinner or better yet, whip out the Crock Pot and make two dinners.
  6. Do crafts and let the Elmer’s glue flow.
  7. Paint together.
  8. Blow bubbles in our neighborhood plaza and get froyo after.
  9. Eat her favorite meal together.
  10. Play dress up and let her wear that purple eyeshadow she saw in my makeup bin.
  11. Sift through photos together so I can show her how much she has grown (and try not cry).
  12. Clean out my makeup bin and (painfully) discard old makeup.
  13. Call my parents. What is it about having a sick child that makes us long for our own parents?
  14. Schedule our family flu shots. It’s October. ‘Tis the season.
  15. Work on my Thanksgiving and Christmas menus and gift lists.
  16. Sift through all of our winter wear and determine if we need new gear.
  17. Clear my emails.
  18. Paint our fingernails.
  19. Call a friend I haven’t spoken to in weeks. Carol, Judy, I mean you.
  20. Do absolutely nothing, other than bum around with my sick child.

All of the above activities have taken my daughter’s energy level and sickness level into account. If she is too weak to do anything, then we are bumming around with books and the occasional (more like three episodes) of Paw Patrol or Bubble Guppies. In any case, my daughter has my full attention and company for the day. Rather than lament about the day “lost,” I get excited for the “found” time being stuck at home affords.


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Jeanne is a married, full-time working mom with an MBA in Marketing from Golden Gate University and BA in Communications from San Francisco State University. She is an Associate Director of Sales for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and loves that her career enables her to promote the city she loves. Jeanne and her husband Daniel live in San Francisco with their two daughters, Ilse and Alice. When Jeanne is not working, writing, or volunteering at Ilse's school, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and cooking from her collection of cookbooks (70 and growing) while sipping Hudson Bay Bourbon. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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