24+ Easy Activities to Save Your Sick Day
My watch said it was only 9 am as I shifted on our lumpy couch to better situate myself between a rumpled pile of tissues and my squirming three year olds. It was one of those crappy CF days when I woke up conjested and coughing and more equipped to watch an entire season of something on Netflix than to be a parent. The three year old closest to be stretched into my space, leaning her head against my shoulder with a gentle moan, and I could tell that their patience with my lethargic morning was coming to an end. I needed a game plan. If only my head would stop pounding long enough to remember an activity idea.
Parenting is a hard job on any day, but what happens when someone is sick? Whether it is you or your child, having a sick person in your house changes everything. Energy is low, patience is low and neediness is high. As the seasons start to change, this will unfortunately come up in most households. How do you survive sick days?
In our house, sick days usually mean a huge increase in tv. This is not something I feel overly comfortable with as a mom, especially once our twins start feeling a little better. This is the hardest stage for me. They aren't well enough to leave the house, but they aren't sick enough to need to lie down and get extra sleep. I feel even worse about it when I am the sick one.
Potentially more difficult than having a sick kid is having a sick parent. Unfortunately because I am a mom with Cystic Fibrosis this comes up much more than I would like. There are a lot of days that I have low energy and low creativity and I hate for my kids to be sitting around like lumps because of me.
Over the past couple of years I have slowly started gathering simple materials and activity ideas to have on hand for these days. I am sharing our favorites below. I also asked some blogging pals and some fellow mamas to share their favorite sick day activities so you would have the most well rounded list possible.
My criteria for a sick day activity?
*Materials I have on hand.
*Zero to 5 Minutes of preparation.
1. Contact Paper Collages
This Fall Window Tree is one of our favorite (and most popular pins) but there are a million ways to create a contact paper collage. Find whatever you have on hand and some contact paper. Tape the contact paper sticky side up to a window, wall, or table. Put the other materials (leaves, collage scraps, newspaper, string, etc) in a basket nearby and you are done!
2. Lego Bath
This idea from Busy Toddler is genius. Legos (or duplos) and a nice warm bath. What else do you need to feel better and be occupied?
3. Pipe Cleaner Loops
Have pipe cleaners? That's all you need for this fine motor activity from P is for Preschooler.
Stickers are magical are they not? All you need is some stickers and paper or small notebooks and you have a simple, engaging fine motor exercise.
5. Muffin Tin Memory Game
Muffin tin? Check. Cupcake liners? Check. Small objects? Check. You are ready to play this game on Teach Me Mommy.
6. Board Games
This is an easy way to have some fun without needing to prepare anything. Here are 8 of our favorite board games for preschoolers.
Lacing is a great fine motor activity and only requires to materials. Some string and something to thread - beads, washers, or pasta, like in Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds' activity.
This is something you will want to create beforehand (our tips for How to Create a Tinkertray) but once you have a tinkertray this is an easy activity. Place the tinkertray on the table with some construction paper, cardboard, styrofoam or some other base.
10. Sewing Spool Stacking
This idea from Rhythms of Play requires only one materials, but could easily engage little ones.
Pleasantest Thing has some great FREE printable I-Spy pictures. Print them out and then snuggle and play.
Toddlers seem to find tape magical (post it notes as well). The younger the child the more basic this activity can be. For a tiny toddler, a roll of tape is all you need. Just stick some piece to a surface and let them unstick and restick to their heart's desire. Older children might enjoy something like this String and Tape Invitation.
13. Shaving Cream
If you don't mind a little mess, shaving cream is calming and easy. Spray some on a cookie sheet or highchair tray and let your kid play. A bath afterwards is just more calming fun.
15. Glue Stick Collage
Glue sticks require far less clean up than liquid glue. This Shape Art activity is one of our favorites and requires construction paper, scissors and only a tiny bit of prep.
16. Duplos and Legos + Challenge
My twins love to build and I love the idea of building challenges. Sunshine and Hurricanes has some FREE printables so you don't even have to come up with ideas! The only other thing you need is a bucket of legos or duplos.
17. Digital Word Games
Childhood 101 has a great collection of literacy online games.
Have your toddler make a collection. This is a great activity if you, the parent, are sick. It keeps them busy for a while, but you don't have to do much, if any, moving around. You can make any sort of collection. Nature collection. Small things collection. Pick a color and make a collection or better yet build the whole rainbow.
19. Playdough Cookies
I shared this as a Christmas activity, but truthfully it can be done any time of year. Cookies are obviously not just regulated to Christmas time. All you need is playdough and cookie cutters.
20. Listen for Birds
This might sound so weird, but I like to plan at least some of our sick day outside. After a whole day inside we all start to get super crabby and this can often be fixed with just an hour or so of fresh air. Lay a blanket on the ground and listen to the birds or spot shapes in the clouds.
21. Marble Run with Cardboard Tubes
All you need is: cardboard tubes, painters tape, and a ball or marble for this fun STEM activity from Little Bins for Little Hands.
22. Write Mail to Someone
Set up a simple invitation with cards or paper prepared for letter writing and invite your child to draw or write a message for someone.
23. Drawing Prompt
These are one of the easiest things to set up and often engage our children for a lengthy period of time. This Fall Tree Prompt is one of the first I made, but you can look at my Instagram feed for more ideas.
I don't personally think there is a better sick day activity than reading, as long as you don't have a terrible headache. You probably can't read all day or you will go hoarse, but grab a stack of books and snuggle on the couch or lay on a blanket outside to get some fresh air and spend some time reading.
Varied. See individual activities.
Need even more ideas?
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