Parenting and Beyond

10 Kids’ Activities You Can Do with Your Kids When You’re Sick (that don’t include screen time!)

Everybody knows that moms don’t get sick days, so what do you do with your kids when you’re sick? This post gives 10 genius ideas you wish you’d thought of to keep you kids happy and entertained while you rest and get well!

woman lying on the couch, sick, blowing her nose, covered with a blanket; text around the photo reads "Flu season is here for 10 screen-free kids activities of when mom is sick in bed"

You know those commercials where the mom says “Can I have a sick day?” and you think she’s talking to her boss? And then the camera pans out and “the boss” is her toddler. That’s was my inspiration for the idea to make a list of 10 easy kids’ activities you can do with your kids when you’re sick. As the commercial says, mom’s do NOT get sick days!

I started thinking about it when I was pregnant with Nugget. I was incredibly sick with him until I was almost 20 weeks; and having a three-year-old to chase around did not help. I had to get pretty creative with ways I could rest and keep Bubba busy at the same time.

And now that we’re expecting number 3, I have to work even harder to keep Bubba┬áand Nugget busy and give myself a chance to rest!

Screen time is a big go-to for a lot of people, it is for me too. I joke about how I use Netflix as a babysitter. The truth is, I don’t really stress that much about screen time (you can read my thoughts on that here).

BUT, that doesn’t mean I want my kids watching cartoons day in and day out while I’m too sick to get off the couch!

5 Tips to Help Keep Your Kids Happy in Church

I put together a list of 10 activities that you can do with your kids while you are resting. I’ve done ALL of these and found them to be highly successful. Some of these might depend on how sick you are and the amount of energy you can muster up, but remember the goal is to give yourself a little break and still keep the munchkins busy.

So whether you’re pregnant, have the flu, or you just need a chance to rest, these activities will keep your kiddos busy!

Read Books

Ok, if you have a migraine this might not work for you, but otherwise it’s a great option! When I’m not feeling well all I want to do is lay down on the couch, but I can still read! And my kids love it! Plus, they don’t have to just sit there. I’ve found that Bubba will often start playing quietly so he can still hear me read.

Throw a ball

Kids love to play with balls, and if they can’t catch yet they LOVE to run after it and bring it back to you. I hate to make the connection- but doesn’t it feel like you’re playing fetch with them?! I have found when I need rest I can easily throw a ball and keep my kiddos busy chasing after it. Plus, it wears them out for nap time!

Sing Songs

Or put on a kids themed CD (or find a station on Pandora) and let them dance.

Sit outside with them

Fresh air always makes my kids tired, and it usually helps me when I’m not feeling well. So if the weather is cooperating, take a chair outside and let them run and play. My boys both enjoy playing outdoors and if I can muster up the strength to sit outside with them, they’re happy for a long time and I can get some much needed rest.

Take out the hidden toys

You know that one toy you keep hidden because it drives you nuts?! In fact, you’re pretty sure it’s possessed because it randomly starts singing at 2 am? But your kids is obsessed with it.

Yeah, it’s time to take it out! We all have a stash of toys like that and when you’re not feeling well and are desperate for a minute (or 15) to lay down on the couch- it’s time to bring the out the big guns. Desperate times call for desperate measures! (By the way, keeping a hidden stash of toys is how I keep my kids interested in their toys.)

Let them bend the rules

Ok hear me out on this one. I’m not saying you should let them start running around the house with knives and drawing on your carpet. But we all have those rules in place that can be bent just a tad. My bendable rules are things like no playing with the pillows and no eating downstairs. Usually I hold pretty firm to these rules, but when I’m sick it’s pillow forts and downstairs picnics all. day. long.

At the end of the day it’s not hurting anyone to let my son build a tower of throw pillows and then crash into it. It drives me nuts because I like to believe that my house is HGTV perfect (let’s all take a moment to laugh at that) and you never see pillow towers on Property Brothers. But alas, my son loves it and it keeps him busy. And that’s what I’m looking for here!

Let them be your special helper

I don’t know why kids love to help so much but they do! It makes them feel grown up. I will send my 4-year-old on all kinds of errands around the house, and he eats it up. I’ll ask him to let the dogs outside (and then back in); I’ll ask him to bring me a straw for my glass (even if I don’t need one); I’ll even ask him to bring me a blanket. He’s such a great helper, especially when he can see I’m not feeling well.

This can work with little guys too, ask them to bring you a ball, a blanket, a book. Anything you can think of that you know they can get to. It will keep them occupied and tire them out!

Give them exercises

I like to make up a string of exercises for my oldest. He absolutely cannot get enough. Plus, once he’s done he’s usually ready for a little break so he’ll sit longer to watch a movie or read a book.

I assign simple exercises like “run upstairs to your room, do 10 jumping jacks, come back down and to 10 squats, then bounce the ball 5 times.” He likes to see how fast he can do it! Added bonus- he has to count!

This works for little guys too, they probably can’t remember more than one or two exercises at a time, but you could try something simple like “turn around and then jump until I say stop.” They’ll eat it up and you can rest!

Play games

I’m not talking about board games because I don’t have the energy for that even when I’m not sick! I’m talking about old school games like Simon Says; Red Light, Green Light; and Freeze Dance. All of these you can do from the comfort of your couch and it will keep your kiddos busy for a while. Even little ones can do some of these games! Or they can just run around while the older kids play, but either way they’ll be happy!

Just talk with them

Kids love to talk about themselves and they love to show off what they know. This is the perfect opportunity for you to give your child your undivided attention. And they won’t remember the day as “boring” because mom was sick. They’ll look back and think “I got to show mom all my tricks!”

Ask them about school, what they want for Christmas, or even about their favorite things (books, music movies, colors, etc.) My son loves to show me all the “tricks” he can do like standing on one foot or bouncing up and down on his trampoline. He loves nothing more than a captive audience.

Little guys can get in on this too- ask them to show you a new skill they just mastered, point to shapes/letters/numbers/animals for them to name, or even ask them to show you how they dance! Your kids will love the attention and you’ll be able to rest and bond with your kid.

Being sick with kiddos running around is probably one of the hardest parts of parenting. But with these 10 tips your kids can still have an active day and you’ll be able to sneak in some much needed rest!

Do you have any tricks for keeping your kids busy when you’re sick? Leave a comment below!