Wednesday, October 12, 2016

BFBN Week: Guest Post by Kimberly Cartwright - Keeping up a schedule through illness

When my kids are sick I try to stick to schedule as much as possible.  I know illness can be a time to toss the routine out the window.  This makes sense.  It is more important to focus on getting your kid well than keeping up a routine.  Sick babies need to sleep as much as they need, eat whatever they are able to keep down, and stay hydrated.  But for minor illnesses I find it helpful to maintain at least the bare bones of the schedule.  Here are some reasons why I try to stick to routine, even when my kids are sick.

1) Normal naps encourage more rest.  When you are sick you need plenty of rest.  For kids this means still going down for normal naps.  It can be nice to let them stay resting on the couch, but I have found that to be too distracting for solid napping.  A normal naptime and bedtime routine helps them transition to sleep, which will allow them to get more rest.  I do still wake my children up at wake times if needed.  Yes, I let naps run a little long and I let my kids sleep in if they are sick.  This just makes sense.  But I don't let it go too long.  Oversleeping too much can lead to them being undertired for their next nap or bedtime.  Then they wake up early or don't have as restful a sleep.  Then they are overtired, which makes sleep hard.  You see where I'm going with this.  Maintaining as much of a normal schedule as possible will actually helps my children get the important sleep they need when they are sick.

2) Normal meal times lets them eat what they are able.  Besides giving food when they ask for it, I offer meals and snacks at the same time.  A lot of eating rules go out the window when my kids are sick.  You have to feed kids what they can handle.  I never force my kids to eat when they are sick, but I have found that I sometimes need to offer up the food or they won't eat.  Small children and babies don't always have the words to explain they are hungry.  By sticking to normal meal and snack times I make sure I am remembering to offer up foods throughout the day and giving my child the chance to eat if they feel up to it.

3) Normal routine helps the whole family.  When I had just my son, it was easy to toss the schedule if I needed to.  Now that there are three kids it isn't quite as easy.  Keeping a fairly normal schedule allows me to meet the needs of all my kids, not just the sick one.  (Of course the sick kid gets priority.)  This plays into the first two points.  It is easier for the sick child to rest during normal nap times with normal background noise.  In addition it is easier for the sick child to rest and not feel like they are missing out on fun because they are the only ones napping, instead it is just like every other day.  Consistent meal and snack times may encourage a sick child to at eat at least a little bit if they are able when they see their siblings eating.  Consistent schedule also means that I can make sure the healthy kids are still having their needs met.  This helps keep the day running smoothly and helps hold the added stress of a sick kid at bay.  Everyone wins when mom isn't as stressed.

As for the rest of the schedule, well, that goes out the window when one of my little ones is sick.  We do lots of books, quiet activities, and snuggling on the couch.  So far I haven't gotten any complaints from the healthy kids about getting to snuggle and watch a little bonus tv to help their sick sibling feel better. ;)  With sick kids you have to do what is best for that child in that situation.  But for colds and other minor illnesses I have found sticking to the basics of the schedule helps them feel better and get healthy again.


Kim is the mother of a three year old son and eight month old twins.  She blogs at

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