Recently our family was hit by a nasty stomach bug. I’m talking the brutal kind that causes you to lie moaning in agony while you wonder if you will live to see the next hour of your life. Yes, it was that bad.
It started at 12:30 am on Friday when I was awakened to my tiny one beckoning for me. I thought she just needed comforting so she could go back to sleep. In reality it was just the start of a terrible chain of events that began with her vomiting in her crib and ended with her daddy and me both lying in the fetal position wishing we were in a crib. Isn’t it great when a family can share a special moment such as that?
Azalee was sick all day on Friday and most of the day on Saturday. Meanwhile her daddy and I both got sick starting on Saturday night really late, and we were sick all day Sunday and most of the day on Monday. The worst part for me was being so very sick and still having to care for my sweet baby – who was pretty much back to her peppy little self by the time her daddy and I were in the thick of things.
I can honestly say I don’t remember the last time I felt so rotten. So what is a momma to do when she is sick as can be, but she still has to care for a toddler?
Fear not! I have the perfect plan!
Step 1: Prepare
Drag yourself to the kitchen. I know the thought of food and drink is enough to cause a panicky trip to the trash can, but this is not for you. Grab some juice boxes and some small, quick, and easy snacks. On the way to the living room, go through the house closing all the doors to any room other than the living room effectively trapping your toddler in the living room with you. Next do a quick scan of the room to make sure that anything dangerous in is inaccessible.
Step 2: Get Down on Their Level
Muster up all of your remaining strength to drag the couch cushions onto the floor making yourself a comfortable spot to nap in between the required entertainment you must provide. Push the couch cushions up against the couch. Then stuff all of the snacks and juice boxes between the couch and the cushions. This allows you to hide them yet still have easy access. This is also a great place to hide your cell phone and the remote if you have a grabby technology junkie toddler like mine.
**Important Note: Do a quick scan of the secret stuff under the couch cushions and hide anything dangerous in the secret spot between the couch and the cushions.
Step 3: Let the Games Begin
Here are some of the ways that I entertained Azalee without much effort and with very little getting off of my “bed.”
The “New” Couch: The couch without cushions is a novel thing at our house. So Azalee was entertained by the sight of it, its strange bouncy properties, and the surprises she kept finding on it. Other than the required “oh” and “uh huh” and “really” I didn’t have to do anything, and unless a couch without cushions is common at your house, I’m guessing you won’t either.
TV: Once the novelty of the couch wears off, turn on the TV and allow your toddler to bask in all of the stuff that she loves. This was a real treat for Azalee because she doesn’t watch TV that often, but thanks to our recent Netflix subscription we now have access to about 5 bazillion Barney episodes. Although Barney does annoy me at times, during this particular time he was my BFF! She even sat on my “bed” with me to watch Barney which meant that I was free to close my eyes and sleep. Yes…I did actually sleep while my toddler was awake.
Can You Find…?: This game allows your toddler to be entertained while you don’t have to move. It works great! First you spot something in front of the toy box, and then say, “Can you find __________ (the item you can plainly see)?” This would send her looking for it, and occasionally during the hunt something would grab her interest and she would be occupied without needing me or my input. *Word of caution: Don’t send your tot to find something too difficult or you’ll have to end up getting up to get it yourself. Ugh.
Cards: We have a set of preschool learning cards with animals and numbers on them. I told Azalee to spread them out on the floor then I would tell her which one I wanted. “Bring me the cow please….bring me something red….bring me the pig…” This game can last a long time.
Coloring: This required very little effort on my part (other than getting up to get the book and the crayons), but it provided at least 15 minutes of entertainment. Never mind that Azalee colored on the couch cushion while I dozed off. Oops!
PlayDoh: This did require me to get off the couch and venture into the kitchen because Azalee can only play with PlayDoh while sitting in her high chair. I took a pillow with me and rested my head on the table while she made flowers, snakes, birds nests, and pizzas until her little heart was content. I even let her go buck wild and mix two colors! This activity provided a significant amount of rest time for me because although I was forced to sit up I could rest my head on the pillow on the table and really close my eyes to catch some zzzz’s knowing that Azalee was in no danger and was completely occupied. This was also a good segue into lunch because she was already in her chair.
Emergency Toy Stash: Think back to Christmas or to your child’s most recent birthday party. Remember all those nice new toys? If your toddler is like mine, he received a whole bunch of toys. Now, like any good mother I don’t want my daughter to be over stimulated, so I secretly stashed away a fair portion of those new toys in what I like to call an “ETS” or emergency toy stash. When things get boring or I just need a few moments to myself, I will whip out one of those suckers and shazam – instant silence for at least 10-15 minutes. The ETS was my best friend during my recent illness. I went into the stash on three separate occasions, but it was worth every minute of time that I had to rest in peace (in between my panicky runs to the bathroom and the trash can)!
So there you have it folks! The perfect plan for the sick momma because Lord knows sick days are not permitted in motherhood.
Note: You may be wondering why I didn’t send Azalee to her grandparent’s house or let my hubby take care of her. Well…Azalee wasn’t completely symptom free when my hubby and I were sick, and I certainly didn’t want anyone else to suffer through the mess that we were going through. So sending her to the grandparent’s house was out of the question. And yes, my hubby was sick with the same stomach bug, but his was somehow worse than mine (read – he is a man), so I mostly took care of Azalee. I must say that my amazing and wonderful mother went to the grocery store for us and brought us a plethora of get well supplies ranging from Gatorade to a plate of hot food for Azalee so that I wouldn’t have to worry about what to feed her. She even delivered it to our porch!
I’d love to hear your ideas!
How have you entertained your toddler when you were really sick or tired?