For working parents, juggling the school run, office schedule and book bags can be a struggle – and that’s before you throw an unexpected sick day into the mix! Emergency childcare can be difficult to find. So much so that, according to a recent survey conducted by PoxClin CoolMousse, 78% of parents admit they have sent their children to school or nursery knowing that they might be unwell.
Some childhood illnesses, such as chicken pox, can cause particular problems for parents. The NHS recommends keeping a child off school or nursery for around five days as they only stop being contagious once all their spots have crusted over. With so many parents of young children now in full or part time employment, working out who takes the lead on childcare can also a dilemma for parents juggling work priorities. Taking time off work for parents or costly outsourced childcare isn’t always an option. In fact, almost half of parents (43%) saying they have to rely on friends and family for support if their child needs to take a “sick day”.
Given the pressures on working parents, using emergency childcare is becoming increasingly common. Parents in London are more likely to use this an option, with 44% of parents relying on agencies when their children are sick at home. Contrastingly, 60% of parents in the North East would rely on friends and family in this scenario.
Being a parent can be challenging when your child is fit and well, let alone when they’re sick! If you’re a parent or carer struggling to entertain a sick child, check out our top tips for looking after a poorly little one…
- Chicken pox is highly contagious, so your little ones won’t be able to play with other children and might be stuck inside causing “cabin fever”. Get them to call, or even better, Facetime someone familiar like a grandparent for a chat so they don’t feel too cooped-up.
- Use the time away from school to practice doing some reading with your little one, if they’re well enough. Or you could always read to them and make it a more interactive experience by coming up with funny voices or acting out the stories to get your child involved.
- Don’t feel guilty about allowing more screen time when the kids are sick, they might not be in the mood for lots of activity, so let them snuggle up and rest. There are also plenty of educational programmes out there that they can get involved with, though sometimes it’s okay to just let them watch one of their favourite shows to cheer them up. If you’re concerned about too much time watching a screen you could always try downloading some podcasts or audiobooks for your little one to listen to instead.
- Seeing as you’re stuck inside, why not simulate being outdoors by having an indoor picnic! Lay out a picnic rug and have lunch on the floor – everything tastes better at a picnic. Make sure you include some healthy snacks to keep your little one hydrated and boost their immune system and get them to help with preparing the food to keep them distracted.
- Make sure you open some windows and get some fresh air into the house; this will ensure your little one stays cool and might help relieve some of the itching as being too warm might irritate their rash.