Baby it's cold outside...so put on a frickin coat!
The weather outside is frightful and that means COLD SEASON! This is the time of the year when the temperature dips and the snot monsters come out. Every year around this time, I see parents make the same mistakes when dealing with sick kids. It's even worse now that some schools won't allow kids to come in if they have even a runny nose! Below are some tips on dealing with the little ones who aren't feeling that great.
COATS! This might seem super basic but you would not believe the amount of time I see kids running around without the proper gear on. I get it - little ones get sweaty and they take off their outer layers. Unfortunately, the cold plus the sweat only make for sicker kids. Better yet, don't let your kids play outside when they're sick. In California where I live, this is a hard one. The sun is shining even when temperatures are dipping. A sick day though is a sick day - NOT a play day. There are plenty of restful things that will allow your child to get the rest they need but also have the necessary stimulation.
NAPS! This one seems like a no brainer but you'd be surprised. If your child is on a nap schedule, keep them on it! Build in an extra book before and snuggle time after to maximize that restful period. If your kids aren't on a nap time schedule anymore, a nap is still completely necessary. I've seen countless kids zonk out in the car after their parents swear they don't need a nap. Explain to your child that a sick day is a special day and a nap is happening because their body needs to be at rest in order to fight germs. Even if you think your kid will fight it, I promise that if you get them in bed, they won't have the strength. If the word "nap" is an issue, use the word "rest time" or tell them "quiet time" is necessary to re-energize their bodies. Tell them that they need to close their eyes and no talking for X amount of minutes (using their age is a great way to make them feel involved) and that if even a peek happens, time starts over. I promise that you'll never hit that mark and your kid will be snoozing in no time.
GOOD FOOD! Special treats on a sick day?!?! Nope. No doctor has every prescribed cookies or chocolate muffins to get over a cold and yet you would not believe the amount of times "special snacks" happen just because a child is sick. Sick days are optimal days for GROWING FOOD! That means vegetables and some fruits, warm drinks, and LOTS of water.
EUCALYPTUS BATH! This one is just warm and snuggly and will help with the congestion. Run a warm bubble bath and add several drops of Eucalyptus essential oil. Really do a good job of making sure that your little's chest is washed and feel free to get in the tub with them! A family bath is great for bonding and your child might love the fact that you're near when they aren't feeling that great.
EUCALYPTUS LOTION! Speaking of Eucalyptus, the essential oil isn't just for baths. Take about 3 tablespoons of lotion, add about 7 - 10 drops of the oil, and rub on your child's chest. I much prefer this to Vick's or any equivalent. I can adjust the strength of the scent by adding fewer drops in the beginning so your child gets used to the scent and build up to more once they're used to it.
HUMIDIFIERS! I love my humidifier when I'm sick and your kid will benefit from one as well. I love to add some Eucalyptus essential oil but if your child is already wearing the lotion, a couple drops of lavender might be just the trick to creating a gentle atmosphere for naps and bedtime.
COMMON SENSE! This last one is the most important. Children are people, albeit small ones but people nonetheless. I've never understood why caregivers act like sick children are different than they are when it comes to having colds. What do you do when your sick? Your child can benefit from the same! Lots of rest, a movie, some home cooked meals, and early bedtime. All these add up to a healthy HUMAN. Too often I see parents who keep their kids home or take them to the doctor but never actually change their child's routine to help them benefit from a sick day. Sick days aren't play days! Your child isn't benefiting from running errands with you, going to the movies, playing soccer in the backyard, or eating junk all day. Just like you wouldn't benefit from any of those things if you weren't feeling well. YOU'RE the parent and if there's any time for you to "pick your battles", it's when your child is sick. One sick kid can often manifest into the whole family becoming ill and that's SNOT fun!
What are your thoughts? Do you change the routine when it comes to your child and the common cold?