Sick days, happy days

Sick days, happy days

Here’s how you don’t want to start your work week.

I was doing my usual juggling routine on a recent Monday morning — up at 6:30, check email, throw in a load of laundry, shower, make school lunches before the kids wake up, etc. — when I heard my daughter yell, “Mommy! I need to throw up!”

I’ll gloss over the details, but suffice to say I had to stay home from work that day.

Luckily, there were no repeat incidents. My daughter felt much better almost immediately, and after rearranging my schedule for the day, I stopped to take a breath.

It reminded me how suddenly plans change when you’re a parent. You think you’re organized and — Boom! — somebody spews. (Like the time my son threw up with no warning at a grocery store, and my husband panicked and walked out, leaving a full cart of groceries behind.)

Suddenly, my daughter and I had an entire day ahead of us with no scripted activities. No basketball games, Sunday school, play dates, or work deadlines — at least for several hours.

We ended up having a blast. She decided to build a jungle in our hallway, creating giant trees with crayons and construction paper and taping stuffed monkeys and koalas to the wall. I helped (in between emails), savoring some rare one-on-one time. We played "Pretty, Pretty Princess" and "Three of a Crime" (a great logic game), snuggled on the couch and watched a movie.

And I relaxed, for the first time in several days. Turns out I needed a break, too.

If you find yourself home with a sick child, here are a few other activities to keep your little one happy:

-- Make breakfast fun. You child may only be able to eat toast and juice, but you can cut the bread into fun shapes. Let him drink with a silly straw. Or make it a tea party, which also helps ensure she'll get lots of fluids.

-- Sooth a sore throat with fruit juice popsicles or flavored ice cubes.

-- Make a book together. Read his favorite fairy tale and illustrate it, or make up your own.

-- Put together a construction-paper photo album of all the people she loves, or her favorite toys. My daughter takes pictures of her toys constantly with our digital camera.

-- Take the opportunity to snuggle. They won't be little very long.

So what are your favorite things to do on those unexpected sick days? Do you have a great kid-puking story to share (a la Steve Martin in “Parenthood”)? Let’s hear it!

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