A recipe for comfort

Doctor becomes the patient ... How to comfort your little ones when they're sick.
Doctor becomes the patient ... How to comfort your little ones when they're sick. 

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I always wanted to be one of those mothers who tirelessly nurtured my children when they were unwell, bringing them homemade chicken soup with a side of lemon and honey on a tray adorned with a doily, plastic vase and fake flower. I also hoped I’d have a buxom bosom that a child could rest their weary head on when they needed some extra comfort and care.

Ten years, four children and many, many sick days later, it seems neither of those images are exactly as I imagined but I have my own recipe for comfort and it goes something like this:

  • Find the softest, warmest blanket you can and tuck your little one in, all cosy and tight on the couch.
  • Unleash the DVD list and let them choose whatever they like. Put it on repeat. There’s nothing like a warm blanket and a zapped immunity to induce sleep, but failing that the boredom of Thomas the Tank repeating his run around the track or Angelina in her seventeenth precocious twirl will surely help them get some much needed rest.

Most boredom busters centre on craft projects and cooking ideas. Combine my lack of cooking skills with a severe craft deficit in my creative skills box, and none of those suggestions sound like something I can offer.

  • Soup and flat lemonade – for some reason, this is what my mum used to give me as a kid when I was sick. The soup – typical old school remedy for stock loading vegetables in an easy to digest format - and the flat lemonade was the sugar hit without the bubbles. Or maybe it was the stay-home treat because I was sick. Either way, it was one of the more pleasant things I remember about being sick.
  • Setting up a little table at the couch feels like the biggest treat of all (well, for my children who are required to eat at the dinner table every night) and also saves hot soup spilling down the chest of an already miserable child.
  • Bringing in reinforcement – when you need additional help, you can dust off the humidifiers, heat packs, wet face washers, heady smelling chest rub, and throat lozenges. They can offer some relief and a diversion from the murky feelings of head colds. On those days when you can’t do it all yourself a grandparent is also a great resource. Having someone to sit and read books, rub tummies and sing songs when you have to fold the umpteenth load of washing instead is a great comfort to everyone. 
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Once my child is on the mend, but not quite their usual spirited self, boredom often sets in. Most boredom busters centre on craft projects and cooking ideas. Combine my lack of cooking skills with a severe craft deficit in my creative skills box, and none of those suggestions sound like something I can offer. Instead I have compiled a more attractive list of options that don’t require you to be Martha Stewart.

  • Give your child a roll of foil. At first they can ball up pieces and throw them randomly around the room for you to gather later, but once committed to the idea, they can be imaginative and make swords or crowns, cars and dolls. Hours of shiny fun, all from the comfort of the couch.
  • Heave out old photo albums (remember the days when we used to print out photos and place them in date order in an album? Oh to have time to be anal retentive again!). Children love to look at photos of themselves as babies or even better, their parents before they were parents. If you’re really savvy, you could print out all those digital images you’ve stored on your computer for too long and have your little under-the-weather one sort them into the albums for you.
  • Dot-to-dot drawings for the younger ones and word finds or crosswords for the older children are a great way to kill some time without being strenuous.
  • Music is a great soother and a wonderful distraction. An iPod and earphones with some calming music can help a child rest and focus their mind on something other than how terrible they’re feeling. Some paper and pencils whilst listening to music may also tap into their creative stores and they can unleash some art whilst inspired by song.

We all know how wretched it is to be sick. To be fussed over and cared for certainly helps recovery. I do wonder, as I type this with a throat that feels a little scratchy, if perhaps I can coax my eight-year-old into making me a cup of tea and tucking me in on the couch with a head massage and a good book?

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