Caring for a little one who is sick is both physically and emotionally draining. As a parent or guardian, it's important to stay healthy for both your child's well-being and your own. Here are some ways you can take care of yourself — whether your little one has the sniffles or is battling a more serious illness.
One of the most important things you can do when you have a little one who is ill is accept help. Just ask Theresa Roma, an employee benefits administrator from Buffalo, New York, whose twins were in the neonatal intensive care unit for three months.
"The best advice I can offer is to accept help," she says. "We had family and friends offering to make meals, clean our house, even giving us money to help with bills. We often let our pride get in the way and hated to accept help, but the help was truly valuable and necessary."
This is good advice as well for parents whose kids are simply under the weather, says Rhonda Franz, managing editor of Parenting Squad.
"Can a neighbor pick up some medicine for your child? Can you call for a pizza delivery for you and possibly other children in the house?" she asks. "Anything that keeps you from having to expend more energy than you already are."
Get plenty of vitamin C — and that doesn't necessarily mean drinking lots of orange juice, health blogger and author Diane Kidman says. Though juice may contain helpful vitamins, it also contains a ton of sugar — thus lowering your resistance to viruses.
"Instead, try fresh broccoli, fresh spinach or cranberries or cranberry juice without added sugar," she advises.
When kids are sick, it's easy to lose sleep because you're up late caring for your little one. There are ways, however, to make sure you get shut-eye as well.
"If your child is keeping you up, try setting up camp in their room so you don't have to get up and down from your room all night long," Kidman suggests. "If your sick child takes naps during the day, you should, too. Or at least put your feet up and enjoy some chamomile tea and a good book."
If that doesn't work, Franz suggests lying down with your child.
"It might be the best rest you can get, and you can help them out and comfort them at the same time," she says.
Unless it's absolutely necessary, it can wait. There's no need to put even more pressure on yourself during a time that is both physically and emotionally exhausting.
"Give up on anything but necessities during your child's sick time — laundry that doesn't need doing, high-maintenance meals, any house cleaning," Franz says.
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