Things I Do When My Kids Get Sick
It's that time of year again when illness is knocking at the door due to the change of season. Kids are back at school, the weather begins to get cooler, and the environment is filled with new and old strains of cold and flu. It's so easy for children to catch the latest bugs from other kids and their public setting, then expose it to your household!
I remember when I used to homeschool, my kids hardly got sick alhumdulillah because they didn’t mix with many children in a school setting full of germs. I didn’t know for sure if it was a good thing or bad thing, as some people say that the bugs they’re exposed to when young, help them build immunity to them later in life which prevents worse bouts of illness. This definitely needs more research on my part, but all I know is that when my kids began going to school, they got a lot more sick - and it was starting to break my heart!
Seeing my kids get sick so much was not only heartbreaking for me as a mom, but uncomfortable and annoying for the whole family, not forgetting contagious! With my six kids in one house sharing bedrooms, it was inevitable that if one came home with an illness, it was going to spread into a long, drawn-out season of a back and forth toss between wellness and sickness for many of us.
That's when I knew that I needed to take precautions and find a better way to deal with the viruses of the season. I was not going to give in and let it happen each year, especially when I read and knew of parents whose kids hardly get sick. There seemed to be a way to fight this, so I began my research and discovered numerous tips and remedies which I am compiling in my new ebook coming out soon. I will warn you that getting prepared for less sickness in the family will take some extra work for a mom and needs consistency, but in the long-term, it pays off believe me.
Please be advised that my recommendations are for children and not for infants or toddlers. Also, I am not a physician, so all my tips are from my own experience using remedies on my children and should not override advice from a professional. Some links in this article are affiliate links and you can read more about that below the article.
The First Steps I Take When My Kids Get Sick
We Turn To Allah SWT
If you’ve read two of my previous post, “When Your Child Gets Sick” and “The Duas I Say For Illness and Pain”, you will already know that the first and most important step to recovery, is to place your trust in Allah SWT. After all, one of Allah’s Beautiful Names is Ash-Shafi - The Healer. He SWT Says,
“And When Allah Wills that you are inflicted with harm there is no one to remove it but him.” (Quran al-An’aam)
The Prophet PBUH would say,
“And cure us for You are the Curer, there is no cure but Your Cure.”
Asking Allah SWT through reciting the relevant duas for illness is the first thing I do to begin the healing process when one of us falls ill. Using Allah’s Greatest Name, Al-Hayy Al Qayyum (All-Sustaining, Ever-Living) in your dua, makes it all the more powerful. I will say the duas for illness and cures over my kids, but also make my kids say the duas for themselves. If you haven’t read the posts explaining all this in more detail, please read it, as it’s the most important aspect I recommend at the first sign of illness or pain for my family or self.
2. I Make My Kids Get Plenty of Rest
The next thing I do when my kids fall ill, is to make them comfortable and let him sleep as much as possible because the best way to survive a virus is to sleep. I explain to my children how illness wears down their body as it takes energy to fight infection. I further emphasize that their body is focused on fighting the disease, so that’s why they feel weak and tired. I set a rule that anytime they miss school, they have to get bed rest with no devices or toys around to play with so they can sleep which speeds up healing.
I honestly think sleeping is one of the best cures for illness as it is the time our bodies repair and regenerates. When my children or I take time to rest a lot during illness, I see a significant improvement. I accept no negotiation from my kids when it comes to resting, no matter how much they moan about wanting to stay up. I’d rather they miss one or two days of school to sleep-in and recover fast, than go to school and have their sickness trickle on for days.
3. I Hydrate My Kids and Eliminate Certain Foods
When kids get sick, they need to replenish their bodies with plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and to flush and thin secretions. It's even more important to keep children hydrated if they have a fever, as a temperature makes your body more dehydrated. I offer my children fresh, cool water mostly and some warm herbal teas occasionally. You can also give your children fruit smoothies, Freshly squeezed orange juice, 100% fruit ice pops, or a natural electrolyte drink which I make homemade - you can find the recipe in my ebook.
Next, I remove all white foods from my children’s diet which includes grains, sugars, milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc., as these foods suppress immune functioning and slow down the body’s ability to heal. Fortunately, when ill, most kids don’t feel like eating a lot of junk food, so it is much easier to keep certain types of meals away from them. I will make my kids eat (if they can handle it) some homemade broth, chicken soup, drink hot remedies, or herbal teas to keep their strength up. All these recipes you will find in my ebook.
4. I Prompt My Kids To Hand Wash Often
Regular hand washing is a must, especially when your child has mucus or is coughing a lot. I simply prompt my child to regularly wash their hands to limit the germs which can spread the infection for themselves and the rest of the family. I know that many say that hand washing does not remove viruses, but I do feel that it does help a lot with spreading germs to others. I explain to my sick child that washing their hands with natural soap and water will dissolve the secretions that bacteria thrive in.
Personally, I don’t use regular hand sanitizers, as many include some hazardous ingredients, unnecessary fragrances, and is alcohol-based - all this can cause irritation and is not good for kids to use long-term. Though hand sanitizers are super convenient for a mom especially when you are outside with your kids, or when your child is too ill to go to the sink often. Therefore I will purchase natural, non-alcoholic hand sanitizers, or I make my own from a recipe you will find in my new ebook. I also prefer the foaming kind as it uses less product and is not so sticky.
5. I Remind My Kids To Stay Warm
I will ensure that my sick child dresses warm especially in the mornings and evenings. I make sure they wear a warm hoodie or sweater which covers their neck and keeps their chest warm, and either socks or slippers. Some articles claim that staying warm isn’t a factor for illness, but I don’t listen to everything I read, there's an element of using your logic as well. For me, it makes sense to keep your child warm when sick especially in low temperatures, and avoid them getting a draft on their sensitive-to-cold areas like the neck, chest, and feet.
From my own experience, when my children don't dress or sleep warmly, it does seem to intensify their symptoms, so I follow my gut with this one. Of course if they have a fever or it's summer, that's a different story. Some of the things I like to use to keep my kids warm or when any of us experience pain or discomfort is homemade heat packs, hot water bottles, a natural heating pad, or an electric heating pad.
6. I Let My Kids Get Fresh Air and Sunshine
Once again, many articles will say that this doesn’t matter for illness, but I disagree. When my children get fresh air from outside and leave the house which is full of their germs and stale air, they feel a lot better. It's a great idea to also air out your house by opening some windows if you can. I tell my sick child to breath in the fresh air and fill their lungs with extra oxygen for numerous benefits - one of them being a more restful sleep.
I don't recommend sending kids out to breath the night air, as I find that the atmosphere at that time causes them to cough more. There is a difference in the air at night compared to the air in the day. I do not know the exact reason, but I do know that in the presence of sunlight, trees do photosynthesis and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. At night time due to the absence of sunlight, trees take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide - so that's some food for thought.
The sunshine is also excellent for sickness, as it is a source of vitamin D which is essential for faster healing, not to mention great for their grumpy mood! I'll open the blinds or curtains in my house to bring in the sunshine which lifts everyone's mood. Sometimes we have to let nature take it's course and I notice that my kids do feel better afterwards.
7. I Teach My Kids To Elbow Cough and Sneeze
I teach my kids the importance of sneezing and coughing in the crook of their elbow, so that germs, saliva, or mucous won’t come into contact with their siblings and friends hands, nose, or mouth. Also, they won’t need to get up to wash their hands so often, and their hands won’t spread so many germs everywhere they touch. This is a good habit to instill even when they’re not ill. Alternatively, if they have a lot of mucus, I will let them keep some tissues in their pocket or sleeve and use it as needed when coughing or sneezing.
I find that my kids are very wasteful with tissues so I will give them one box to use, and when that’s gone, I will substitute it with a roll of tissue paper to use after that. I keep some rolls of soft tissue paper on hand, so their noses don't get irritated by their constant not-too-gentle wiping. I also give them an empty tissue box to put all their dirty tissues in so they can keep resting and also not throw their tissues on the floor!
8. I Humidify The Air For My Kids
I like to use a humidifier when my kids are sick, especially when they have dry coughs. If you live in an arid climate as we do, it's a good idea to run a diffuser in your home occasionally. I have a few methods to get some moisture in the air for my sick kids. The first is by using a quality humidifier and let that run especially at night. The second is to run a cool mist diffuser with some essential oils that help their ailment. The third is to make them take a shower and breath in the steam, or if they're too tired or weak, just breath the steam in the bathroom. You can do this by running hot water in the shower or tub, close the bathroom door, block any gap under the door with a towel, and sit in the steamy room with your child for about 15 minutes - maybe tell them a story to pass the time
9. I Massage My Kids With Rubs and Oils
One of my must-do's when my kids are sick is to rub them with my homemade vapor rub which is similar to Vicks but without the chemicals (recipe in my ebook). I like to massage it on their back and some on their neck and the top part of their chest, then put a cotton t-shirt on them. I mostly put the rub on their feet then put socks on and do this during the night.
I also love to use essential oils such as oregano oil which is a potent natural antibiotic and antiviral, and thyme oil which is very effective against colds and flu. I dilute one part essential oil to four parts carrier oil, and also rub that on their feet. I usually use carrier oils such as coconut and olive oil for frugality sake, but my favorite is apricot and almond oil which costs more. All these rubs seem to help the body fight flu and colds. The massage also helps your child feel comforted and relaxed.
10. I Make My Kids Steam
When my children cough a lot, have a lot of mucus, or feeling very uncomfortable, I will let them breathe in steam for a few minutes. I aim for at least 10 minutes of steaming which helps ease their congestion and kill viruses and bacteria in their lungs and bronchial tracts. Breathing in the moist air from the steam helps loosen the mucus in their nasal passages allowing them to breathe more comfortably and thus rest better.
I make them steam in two ways. In the first method, I use my personal facial steamer that I use for my DIY facials. I find this has been the most convenient as the device is made to rest your face comfortably to steam. I pour 2-3 drops of eucalyptus oil in the water and have them breathe in the steam for a few minutes. This works exceptionally well for my kids when they're stuffy and coughing a lot.
The second method I suggest if you do not have a steamer, is to merely fill a bowl with hot water, let your child lean over, and place a towel over their head so they can breathe in the steam. I do not recommend this method much as the hot water is dangerous for kids, as they can pull it on themselves, and it’s more effort for a mom who has to stand right there for safety sake. Also, some kids do not like a towel over their head, and won't want to do it. You can also buy a steamer made specific for sinuses if you feel that you will use it often enough to make it worth the cost.
11. I Place My Kid In A Bath Or Shower
Another thing I love to do when my kids are sick is to put them in a warm bath with some of my homemade natural bath mix. I have one specific recipe for sick kids which is made with epsom salts and other useful ingredients. You can find all my recipes in my remedies book coming out soon (pre-order it for 50% off). The bath helps to detoxify their body by making them sweat-out a lot of the nasty stuff. This helps a child sleep better, and I find that it relaxes my kids a lot. Sometimes they do feel dizzy, or it brings on a headache due to the detoxification, so I will give them water to drink afterwards. If it's bad, I'll give them some pain reliever and then put them to bed. The bath idea has helped us tremendously and is one of my go-to remedies when any of us are really sick.
If you can't do a bath for some reason, you can put your child in the shower. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the sides of the shower floor for some quick comfort.
12. I Keep My Kids From Becoming Bored
One of the best things you can do for your child is to keep them comfortable yet not bored while they are sick, especially if they can't sleep. I will let my kids listen to books online through free sites like Storynory and Tumblebooks (free through your public library). If your child is not too ill, they can watch their favorite show, color, and draw, read a book, or work on a puzzle in bed on a lap desk. You can also make them a super cozy bed on the couch so they can watch you while you do your work. Sometimes when they are really cranky from discomfort, I get their older sibling to make them a tent-like structure with a sheet or you can purchase one and use it especially for sick days. Place a soft pillow and blanket inside with their favorite soft toy, so they feel special and focus less on their discomfort.
13. I Nurture My Kids
Another one of the best remedies for a sick child is the simplest and most basic one - to nurture with loving care. As a busy mom, it can be a challenge to stop what you are doing for a few days to see to your child and take the necessary steps. I remind myself that my work will always be there and my child needs me for that temporary time. It honestly helps my kids' sickness lessen when I take the time to implement remedies and nurture them. From my experience, being loving to children when they're sick also helps them to nag less and has a therapeutic effect on them which makes them feel comforted. I do believe it even helps kids become more sympathetic to others who are sick as well.
14. I Make My Kids Broths, Soups, and Homemade Remedies
Finally, I will make my children homemade chicken soup or broth to build up their strength and immunity to fight their sickness. To make it easier on yourself, you can make the chicken soup or broth in advance and put it in little containers to freeze for when anyone in your household gets sick. You have enough to worry about when sickness comes, so that is super convenient. I do this mostly with my broth because I can also use it as a base to make chicken soup fast in my Instant Pot. Alternatively you can purchase some natural chicken broth and and add some veggies and spices to that for a quick pick-me-up. You can find all my soup and broth recipes for sickness in my ebook which will be coming out soon.
I will also give my children homemade remedies depending on their symptoms. For example, if they can't stop coughing, I make them a cough remedy using honey and spices, or give them herbal teas with certain spices to help them breathe and sleep easier - you can search for these kinds of recipes online or use mine which you will find in my ebook as well.
Last but not least, I will give my kids the necessary supplements and immune boosters which consist of vitamins to take, depending on their age, in pill form, as drops, or in a drink. I will be covering the exact supplements, remedies and store-bought medications I use for my kids in my next post. I will update you via my newsletter when it is published inshallah.
I know many of the tips I shared may seem logical and is a no-brainer, but I've noticed many moms have either forgotten or feel that those methods are too old-fashioned. Sometimes the old-fashioned remedies have a lot of wisdom in them, so I like to keep balance between old and new when it comes to dealing with my sick kids.
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