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Five of my kids are sick today.
So am I.
With massive headaches, fevers, coughs, and a little baby who cries if we put her down, sick days can be trying.
How in the world do I manage working from home with sick kids? And a sick me?
Here are my best six tips for you–one for every sick person in my house.
1. Clear Your Deadline Calendar
I’m a big fan of building a safety net into my deadlines. I try not to take on rush jobs, and definitely keep a close eye on overlapping deadlines on the same day.
This means that I have some flexibility in what I actually need to do each day. When sick days come up, it’s much easier to manage if all I have to do is get a draft together, or look for some sources instead of tackling a job that requires a ton of mental effort.
Start now, so when you get sick you can easily clear your calendar for a day.
Tackle the jobs that don’t require a lot of brain power when your brain feels like mush.
This also makes it easier to take the kids to the doctor in case of more serious illness.
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2. Use the Crockpot
The last thing I want to worry about tonight is what in the world I’m going to cook for dinner. In a large family, with so many sick ones, tempers will grow shorter as the day goes on.
I used the energy burst I had this morning after milking the cows to throw a chicken in the crockpot. We have left over rice in the fridge, so we’re having mandarin chicken over rice for dinner. All I’ll have to do tonight is reheat rice and cook a veggie.
Those are tasks I can assign my non-sick kids. Dinner, done!
3. Drag the laptop to the couch
For the little bit of work that I need to do today, I’m using my laptop. I drug it over to the coffee table, so I can sit on the comfy couch, snuggle with the kids, and get my to-do list knocked out.
I’m writing this with six kids around me. Time with mom is important when they’re sick, and I need to be there with them.
The writing may take a bit longer, but it’s worth it.
A definite perk of working from home–baby (and toddler, and kid cuddles!)
4. Get Rest
Seriously. Take a nap when you’re sick. It’ll help you feel better faster.
The body heals during sleep. You need it! Encourage your kids to sleep as well.
Build a bed on the floor, spread out on the bed and watch a movie on the iPad–do whatever you can to encourage rest throughout the day.
I plan on spending our two-hour quiet time today sleeping instead of writing. My body will thank me later.
5. Have simple activities ready
As important as sleep is, I’d be crazy to think my seven kids will quietly lay in bed all day. It’s NOT going to happen.
So I stay prepared.
I keep simple activities in plastic shoe boxes. We don’t play with these everyday, so when I drag them out, they’re a treat for the kids.
I make sure they’re easy to clean up, are large (safe for babies, toddlers, and my big kid with Pica) and are enjoyable.
I also make sure they’re easy to clean. You know–in case of puke or something. It happens…
The kids can pull out two tubs at a time, but they know all pieces must be picked up before they get out any others.
I make sure to limit the number of toys in each tub so it isn’t overwhelming to clean up.
Here are ideas:
They are simple toys, but to a sick kid, can be very engaging. You don’t have to have very many tricks up your sleeve, but if you have an activity to pull out on a sick day, it can help everyone feel better.
If you’re up to it, play with the kids. Otherwise, lay on the couch and watch them as you remind them to stay calm.
These activities are also helpful for when the kids are sick and you have work to do. Pull them out, get the kid settled, and get to work nearby (so you can help your child with illness issues if needed.)
6. Work in Short Chunks
Normally, I spend almost an hour every morning writing as the kids are doing independent school or writing/drawing activities. Today, I was getting tissues for one child, water for another, and trying not to make my headache worse–all at the same time.
There wasn’t time for writing for an hour straight.
However, there was time to spend ten minutes here, or fifteen minutes there.
Small chunks of time add up.
Embrace them when you can. Your production likely won’t be as high as normal, but you’ll be able to tackle your must dos.
I don’t like being sick.
I don’t like it when my kids are sick.
But it happens.
By knowing that sick days will happen, I can prepare for them. Using these six tips will hopefully help your next sick day go more smoothly.
What tips can you add for working from home with sick kids? I’d love to hear your ideas. You know–for next time!
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.