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Sick and Tired

Winter is a wonderful time of year with the joy of holiday traditions, family gatherings, and travel. It is also the time of year when germs abound. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity peaks during December, January, and February. So what happens if you get the flu? Here are six ideas to help you get through the day and the season.

1. Ask for help. Taking care of yourself is the top priority so you can get back to the business of caring for your family. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Have your spouse come home early from work, or even better, take the day off. If you have family nearby, enlist the help of your mom, dad, a sibling, or a grandparent. Ask them to come over for a few hours or an entire day so you can get some rest. If you don’t have family nearby, pay it forward with a neighbor or a friend. Help them out when you can, and then ask for help when you need it.

2. Stock the cupboard. Keep supplies on hand so you’re prepared to take care of yourself. That way, you can avoid an extra trip to the grocery store when feeling ill. Good staples to stock up on include your favorite soups, saltine crackers, bread for toast, tea, and 7UP. Be sure to have extra boxes of tissues and a pain/fever reducer like ibuprofen or aspirin in your cabinet. Also, include cough syrup, throat lozenges, Vitamin C, and anything else you can take to help relieve your symptoms.

3. Simple foods for the kids. Keep some easy-to-prepare foods on hand for your kids to eat. Items like cheese and crackers, applesauce, macaroni and cheese, whole wheat bread with their favorite fillings for sandwiches, raisins, and hard boiled eggs are nutritious and easy for kids to fix themselves. And be sure you’re stocked with their favorite cereals. Keep these ingredients on hand for quick and easy dinners too: pasta and sauce, chicken fingers, and cheese and tortillas for quesadillas.

4. Keep the kids entertained. This can be tricky; you need your rest but your kids want your attention. Try stocking a craft box to keep little hands busy. Let them create masterpieces with white paper, construction paper, paper plates, tissue paper, egg cartons, stickers, colored pencils, crayons, glue sticks, feathers, and play dough. Keep a shelf of their favorite books within reach. Include coloring, puzzle, and pop-up books. Consider downloading a new book onto your tablet. And if your family watches little or no TV, now might be the time to reconsider. Let your kids watch their favorite TV shows or discover some new ones. If you have a children’s movie you’ve been saving, now’s the time to play it to entertain the kids.

5. Hang with your little ones. If your kids don’t want to leave your side, try these ideas. Rest on the couch while your kids play on the floor next to you. Or grab some books and have your kids read to themselves or to you while you rest in bed. Or have them make up their own stories to tell you. Relax while they entertain you with a puppet show of their own creation. Arrange a bunch of pillows and blankets on the floor to make a fort or a comfy nest.

6. Write it down. Keep a list of emergency numbers at the ready for yourself or a caregiver. Write down instructions about your kids’ food allergies or medications. Include school and activity schedules. If you have pets, write down the details of their care. And don’t worry about chores, laundry, or baths, these things can wait.

Try these eight tips to stay healthy during cold and flu season:

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein.
  • Maintain a moderate exercise schedule.
  • Try to avoid close contact with those who are coughing and sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Get enough rest, seven or eight hours of sleep a night, if possible.
  • Get a flu shot.
  • See your doctor when necessary.

If you keep your immunity up, when you do get sick, you’ll recover faster.

With a little advance planning, you can take a sick day, maintain your sanity, and have your family survive. And you’ll be back to being well in no time.

Lisa is a freelance writer and mom who manages the occasional sick day. 

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