13 Tips to Make Life Bearable When Your Whole Family is Sick

13 Tips to Make Life Bearable When Your Whole Family is Sick cradlerockingmama

Is there anything more guaranteed to throw your household into disorder and disarray than a “traveling sickness”?

You know the one I’m talking about. It starts with one kiddo, creeps over and attacks the others, and finally, just as the kiddos are starting to feel better, the parents succumb.

From that first raspy cough, you know: you’re done for.

Being that we have young children and haven’t been sick very often, I didn’t know these little tricks before our recent bout of viral insanity. I’m nothing if not teachable, however, and I thought I’d share with you what I learned the last two weeks about how to keep your household from falling into complete disarray when cooties invade.



  • Immediately get caught up on laundry. In an ideal world, we’d all be caught up on laundry all the time, but…let’s face it. Reality is we’re all almost always a little behind. So make sure your towels, washcloths, pajamas for the family and at least one spare set of linens for the beds are clean, dried, folded and put away as soon as possible when you see a cold coming on.
  • Clean the kitchen. Again, in an ideal world, you’d never be behind on this one. As soon as your kiddo starts coughing, though, go clean out the fridge, empty the trash, run the dishwasher, hand wash whatever is in the sink, and wipe down the counters really well.
  • Make up HUGE portions of some “easily reheatable” food. Soup rocks. Taco meat works. Whatever comfort food you can think of that can be heated up without much effort is going to make life well worth living over the next week or two. (Make sure you make enough for a full week or two, by the way! As the parents, you’ll probably be that last people getting sick. It would stink to run out of food for yourself when you’re feeling your worst. Freeze some if necessary!)
  • Clean the rest of your house. Don’t go crazy here, but sweep or vacuum the floors, tidy up, whatever you have to do to make it look like human beings and not wild animals live in your house. It won’t stay this way, but if you start out looking like your house is a pig sty, well, when you finally get better and look around? You’ll cry.
  • Hit the store. Buy at least twelve boxes of super soft tissues, extra toilet paper, extra paper towels, and maybe even disposable dishes and utensils. Anything to make life easier when dealing with the crud!
  • On that note, if you cloth diaper? Unless there’s a medical need for cloth diapering, get over it. Go get some disposable diapers and move on. Trying to keep up with cleaning and folding cloth diapers when your kiddos are in misery is just…miserable.
  • Pick up whatever medicines you need. Whether you’re a straight up “give me the OTC green stuff” kind of person or a holistic “I use essential oils” kind of person, grab whatever you’re currently missing in your medicine cabinet. Trust me, running out of these essentials while your kids are sick is rotten, because then you either have to find someone to go buy them for you or haul sick kiddos to the store. Very not fun.
  • Call and cancel. Sure, your kids might bounce back pretty quickly. Sure, you might not get sick. But just save yourself the trouble and at the first sign of a cough, call up anyone and anyplace you’re scheduled to be over the next week and just cancel. You can always give them a “maybe, maybe not” answer…but taking that off your plate will be worth it. You’ll feel stressed out if you look up on Wednesday and go “Oh no! We were supposed to be at ____ right now!” Because I promise: when the kiddos are sick? Remembering your calendar is not very high on the priority list.


  • Hunker down. You aren’t going anywhere for a while. (Or at least, you shouldn’t be!) Pretend you’re snowed in.
  • Turn on the TV and don’t feel guilty about it. Yes, your kids will watch WAY more TV than the experts would deem appropriate. The experts can stuff it. You’ve got miserable kids on your hands! If an endless loop of “Mary Poppins” keeps the littles distracted and happy, then get ready to sing “Chim-chim-cheree” 85 thousand times. It’s temporary.
  • Don’t worry about naptimes, mealtimes, or anything else that remotely resembles your normal routine. Sure, if you can manage it, that’s great. But don’t sweat it if your sick kiddos sleep at odd times, aren’t hungry when mealtime hits, and suddenly want to party and eat like a starving man at midnight. It happens. They’ll get back on routine pretty quickly once they’re well again.
  • Take care of yourself. Yes, you will mostly be taking care of your kids and their needs come first…but the only chance you’ve got of getting through this without getting their cooties is to take care of yourself, too. So take your vitamins, eat healthy, wash your hands, and sleep as much and as often as you can. You’re doing your kids a favor.
  • Let go. Let go of everything except the bare essentials. This is why I recommend cleaning your house and getting your laundry under control. Right now, your kiddos want Mommy or Daddy to snuggle with them. And that is exactly where you need to be. So use those disposable bowls and spoons for their chicken soup, and don’t worry about much else. Go get some snuggles in while you can.


We got sick later in the year, too…this time with a stomach bug. That spawned a whole new list of tips to make life bearable when your whole family is sick. Read more here!

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