How to survive when you're sick and want nothing to do with your kids

Jan 26, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Being a mom often means that you have to have a lot of get-up-and-go, but if you really cannot get up and go, it helps to have some ideas to keep your kids busy and happy — and not off destroying the house or hurting themselves. We've got you covered.

You've heard the old saying, "Moms don't get sick days." It's really true. Even if you have an amazing setup with your partner who can take over much of your parenting duties, some of the daily work that comes along with having kids will fall on your lap at least some of the time, and for single moms and those who have partners that work long hours away from home, you're really on your own.

So what do you do when all you want to do — need to do — is lie in bed or on the couch? Many moms turn to electronics, which is an easy choice and often works well. During our last battle with influenza, my youngest and I lay in bed and watched a bunch of TV together. A tablet can also work wonders. But if you don't want your kid to have tons of screen time, there are other choices.

Playing fetch. No, this isn't meant to demean your child and pretend she's a dog, but you can engage your child by asking her to bring you various objects from around your house. You can send her off to find something green, for example, or for a certain type of item, like a doll. This will keep her active, and it's fun.

Build a nest. Set yourself up in a main, childproof living area, and give your toddler a similar setup — make a tent, put down pillows or toss some blankets onto the floor. Scatter around a few toys or books that your child hasn't seen recently and lie down and relax while he explores in a safe environment.

Barricade yourself in your kid's room. Close the door or put up a baby gate and situate yourself on your kid's floor. You might even be able to squeeze yourself in a toddler bed. Your child's room is typically childproof and can be a safe haven for her while you get some much-needed rest.

Pretend to be a baby. Kids adore taking care of things, and it can be a ton of fun pretending that Mom is just one giant baby doll. Have him gather "bandages" (tissues or blankets work well, but tell him to leave the toilet paper alone) to help you feel better, and encourage him to sing you songs and tuck you in.

Hopefully you and your kids can work around your "sick days" (and honestly, if you're a working mom and need to call off work and have child care in place, I'd consider sending your child to day care as usual as long as she's not sick, too). Being a sick mom is an awful reality for most of us at least a few times when our kids are young, but with a few strategies, you will probably get out of the ordeal with both of you none the worse for wear.

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