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How to entertain kids when you are ill

Being unwell when you’re a parent is never easy – you can’t call in sick to your toddler!

I was recently completely knocked off of my feet by a cold and I really struggled to entertain my two girls, who were still full of energy. 

I’ve got some great ideas for keeping your toddler occupied while you’re ill. These are things you can set up with minimal or no effort and can supervise from a lying down position on the sofa or in bed. 

If you have any ideas of your own for keeping kids happy while you are ill I would love to hear them, just pop them in the comments!

Easy ways to entertain your toddler when mama is sick

1. Paper roll colouring

This one can keep little ones entertained for ages. Get a roll of paper, use heavy toys to stretch it out along the floor (hard flooring, not carpet) and then give your little one pencils (or pens if you have protected the floor). 

This can keep them entertained for ages because they can create one huge mural or lots of smaller drawings. 

2. Treasure/scavenger hunt

This requires a little bit of effort on your part, but not too much. Gather up some of your kid’s favourite toys, hide them around the house and then lie down while your child finds them.

Alternatively, tell them a list of things you want them to spot around the house, such as a mirror, spoon, the cat, a plant and items of clothing, then get them to race around the house finding the items and report back. 

How to entertain a toddler when you're ill

3. Musical statues

All you need is your phone and internet access, or some pre-downloaded tunes your child loves. 

Simply hit play and stop every now and then, and don’t forget to praise how amazing their crazy dancing is too. 

4. Play doctors and nurses

Either get your child to look after their favourite doll or stuffed toy, or get them to look after you. Tell them to check temperature, check heart rate and feel arms and legs for any injuries. You can also ask them to feed you “medicine” (put some water in a bowl) with a spoon. 

5. Stickers and colourful tape

I always keep a spare pack of stickers in my craft supplies in case I need to distract the kids for a while.

Gift wrapping tape is also great for kids, as they struggle to peel away the end so it keeps them busy for some time. 

You could try sticking some masking tape to the floor or on a table and challenge the kids to pick all of it off.

Kids can also use masking tape to create a makeshift road on hard flooring. They may need a little help getting it straight, but once it’s down they can get toy cars and pretend to drive all around the make-believe roads.

6. What’s on my back

Lie down on the floor or the sofa on your stomach and get your kids to put whatever they want on to your back.

You have to guess what it is. It means you can lie still, but they will find it hilarious. 

7. Camping

Set up a den (if your child has a play tent, even better). Get yourself comfy on some cushions and let your child play at camping. 

8. Shadow puppets

Turn off all of the lights and draw the curtains. Use a torch to shine on the wall and get your child to make shadows on the wall with their hands and limbs while you make up a story. 

9. Look through family photos

My girls love looking at pictures. It can actually keep them distracted for well over an hour. Use a photo album or pictures from your phone. 

10. Balloons

Blow up a few balloons (it’s a good idea to have a pack of cheap ones stashed away somewhere as they’re such a good distraction) and let your kids kick or throw them around. 

11. TV

Never feel guilty for leaving your child in front of their favourite TV show for a few hours. This really is not going to do them any damage and if it gives you an hour or two to shut your eyes and get some rest, it’s best for everyone!

When you are feeling better again, here are some other great playtime ideas for toddlers.

11 ways to entertain your toddler when you are sick