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Sick-Day Soothers

7 ways to cheer up a cranky kid with some fun things to do

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Try these perfect little pick-me-ups for a little one who’s sick or achy but still wants to play.
Sick-Day Soothers

Facing a long day with an under-the-weather kiddo? Be prepared with lots of ideas to stay busy, yet quiet enough to heal.

1. Present a present—with a twist.

Assemble a box of dollar-store oddities well before you need it. When illness strikes, let your kid select without peeking one doodad every one to two hours. Then challenge your child (if he’s up to it) to invent an interesting new game or find a new use for his dollar-store presents. Let him explain his concoction and go again.  

2. Get messy (within reason).

Help your under-the-weather kid design a work of art on a large flat surface. Supply shaving cream to spread, cornmeal or rice to run his fingers through, or let him pound it out with cooked noodles or gelatin, without worrying about the mess. Cook up some homemade play dough to entertain him. Use flour, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring. Let him help.

3. Arrange a soothing soak…while the sun’s still out.

Let your child relax in some clear, fresh water at noon, if she wants to. Fill the tub with toys and bubbles and let her play until her fingers wrinkle up. Create a calming, spa-like feel with candles (placed out of reach, of course), soft music, and warmed-up towels from the dryer. If she declines the bath, let her scrub her toys instead.

4. Invite the patient to play doctor.

With a toy medical kit, or even household items and tons of imagination, your pre-med preschooler can check and cure stuffed animals, superheroes, or Mom and Dad. When it’s your turn to be the sick one, play it up like crazy. Pretend you’ve grown an extra nose or you turned purple with giant green polka dots. Better yet, paint them on.

5. Make refrigerator art.

Gather new and no longer fun refrigerator magnets and toss them in a bucket.Place your child on a blanket on the kitchen floor. Show her how to use the different colors and different shaped magnets, including large plastic clips and some that look like food, to decorate the fridge and design her own creation. Add letters if you have them. Have your child pose along side her masterpiece. Take pictures and post online.

6. Couch-surf in comfort.

Keep little fingers busy but bodies resting with activities your kid can do on a bed, on the sofa, or in a blanket fort on the floor. Use a bed tray or lap desk if you have one, or a plastic serving tray or a clipboard if you don’t. Then tempt your child to create pictures, designs, and figures with markers, paper, yarn, ribbon, stickers, Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, tape, and glue.

7. Stroll down memory lane.

Cuddle up and page through old photo albums, or digital files and videos. Giggles are guaranteed as your preschooler sees his gooey baby grins, or what Daddy looked like in high school. Hop on a video chat with relatives so everyone can view pics together and share stories.