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Sick-day survival: 6 parenting tips when you have the flu

We’ll just say it. Parenting when you have the flu is the worst.  

When you’re down with a fever, cough, sore throat and more, the only things that sound good are bed, broth and a whole lot of Netflix. But when you’re a busy parent — especially of tiny humans — it isn’t easy to stop and take time to rest and recover. And if you don’t have a partner who can step in, it’s difficult to take care of yourself and tend to active, hungry kids through a fever haze.

If you do find yourself on the receiving end of a bad bug, here are six tips on how to survive and keep the kids alive happy.


  1. Level with your kids.

Surprise. You really are human.

You totally deserve superhero status, but you are just as vulnerable as the rest of us when it comes to getting sick.

Tell your kids (honestly) how you feel and that you need their help to rest and get better. It’s important they recognize that even Mom and Dad get sick and need to take care of themselves. It’s also a good lesson in empathy.


  1. Let it go.

Pop Tarts for dinner? Why not?

When you are sick with the flu, focus on the bare minimum. In other words, make sure everyone gets fed, diapers get changed and no one gets hurt.

  • Accept that laundry, housecleaning and errands can wait.
  • Ditch the meal plan and put the paper plates to good use.
  • Forego normal rules and routines like screen limits and bath time.
  • Declare a pajama day so you don’t have to worry about getting kids into fresh clothes.


  1. Plan ahead.

You don’t want to go to Fred Meyer in your bunny slippers.

Some pre-planning before you get sick will make things easier for everyone.

  • Make sure your home first-aid kit has everything you need to keep you comfortable, including flu medicine, throat lozenges, fever reducers, nasal sprays and anything else you’ll need to relieve your symptoms.
  • Keep foods and drinks on hand that might sound appealing when you’re ailing, like chicken soup or broth, saltine crackers, ginger ale, herbal tea and popsicles.
  • Have a secret stash of toys, craft supplies or movies that only come out when you’re sick.
  • For kids, stock up on just-in-case snacks, juice boxes, single-serve fruit cups and easy-to-prep frozen meals. Makes sure the troops know how to make something simple like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
  • Reach out to friends, family and neighbors before you get sick. Find out who is willing and available if the need arises.
  • Update your emergency numbers and list of children’s allergies and medications, school and activity schedules and info about pet care. It will make it easier if someone does step in to lend a hand.


  1. Parent from wherever you are.

Who says Mom (or Dad) needs to be upright?.

If you can’t separate yourself from the rest of the family, set up camp in a spot in the house where you and the kids can comfortably co-exist. Whether in bed or on the sofa, create a safety “zone” around you to prevent sharing your bug.

  • Keep the parenting essentials close by. That includes diapers, wipes, snacks, water bottles, books, toys, formula, baby food and the potty chair, if necessary. 
  • If your little ones want to stay close by, let them create their own nest of blankets on the floor. You can relax a bit while they play or read you a story.
  • If you have an infant, you may need to barricade yourself together. Just make sure the room is childproofed and baby-gated.


  1. Ask for help.

Even in the Marvel Universe, superheroes need their squad.

This one should be obvious, but all you parents out there know it’s not. But when you can barely open your eyelids and raising your head a monumental task, you’re going to have to turn to others for some assistance, especially if you have an infant

If another parent isn’t in the picture or isn’t able to be home with the kids, don’t be afraid to ask a friend, neighbor or relative to babysit, help with meal prep, or shuttle kids to school or soccer practice. They’ll be happy to do it and will appreciate the return favor later.


  1. Get medical care at Indigo Urgent Care, when and where you need it.

We’re here for you, Mom and Dad.

In adults, the flu will typically run its course within three to five days. But if you’ve gotten through a few seasons of The Great British Bake Off and still aren’t feeling yourself, Indigo can help.

  • Ask our virtual assistant. Indy is always there for you. She’ll help evaluate your symptoms and get you the care you need now.
  • Get Indigo Online Care from the comfort of your personal device or blanket fort.
  • Visit your neighborhood Indigo Urgent Care. Our friendly providers will evaluate your flu symptoms, test for flu and prescribe medications as needed. All Indigos are open every day from 8 am to 8 pm, even holidays.


Prevention is the best medicine

Ideally, the best solution is to avoid getting sick in the first place. Here are some ways to keep the dreaded flu bug at bay:

  • Get a flu shot. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Boost your immune system: Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Get routine checkups and see your doctor when necessary.

A better way to get better.

Health care that’s friendly, easy, and centered around you.

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