What to Do With Your Children When You Have a Health Emergency

Mom Overwhelmed While Kids Fight.You’ve been hit with the flu. Or you need to go to the hospital right away (either for yourself or to take a loved one). You can’t just hide under the covers or fly out the door because you have kids at home. So what do you do with your children when you have an unexpected health emergency?

In most cases you are going to want to have someone watch the kids. It may be your spouse or an older child who can responsibly keep an eye on the younger ones. Extended family—parents and in-laws—can be great emergency support if they live nearby. If family isn’t an option, try the babysitter, a friend, or a trusted neighbor. Maybe another parent from your child’s school or scout troop or sports team can watch your children while you take care of the health emergency.

You may even want to plan your list of who to call before a health problem strikes. The less you have to think about or track down while you are sick or in a rush to care for someone else, the easier you’ll get through it.

If there is simply no one else who can take them, do the best you can with what you have. If you are home sick, let it be a movie marathon day for the kids. A day of television won’t melt their minds. Make sure the room is safe and they have plenty of quiet toys to play with. Then you take over the most comfortable spot where you can keep an eye on them while also being out of the way. The couch or a chair in the corner work well.

Let your kids know that, “Mommy isn’t feeling well,” and that you are going to need them to play quietly and not ask any questions. Will this work perfectly? Definitely not. But with a few reminders and some entertainment, your day may be a bit more restful than usual.

If you have to go to a doctor’s office or the hospital and you must bring your children, pack an activity bag with quiet toys—coloring books and crayons, notebook and stickers, stuffed friends, or even electronics with headsets—and clean, easy snacks and bottled water. Snacks and drinks are helpful in taming hungry tummies, which often turn into behavior meltdowns. Choose things that are easily cleaned up if they spill (because accidents happen). Think water or clear juice and fruit snacks, raisins, or dry cereal.