What to Do When Your Child Is Sick During the Holidays

By Kara Reynolds | Dec 6, 2017

The holiday season is in full swing. While it is a joyous time, it can also be quite busy and stressful. You want to make everything perfect for your family, and yet, you know something is going to get messed up, broken or forgotten. It’s just the way it goes. Children get especially excited this time of year. They love the Christmas TV specials, seeing Santa at the mall, having parties at school and making outrageous lists of things they want. It’s a busy time of year for them, too, and with the change in the weather, it is often a time they can become ill. Nothing throws a wrench into your holiday plans like a sick kid. When the flu arrives before Santa Claus, there are changes you will need to make to your plans. But like every holiday season, you will get through it. It’s just not going to be the White Christmas you were dreaming of.

Prevention Is Worth a Pound…

It might be too late, so reading this might just irritate you. But this time of year it is essential you focus on keeping your children from getting sick in the first place. Take a can of Lysol or other disinfectant spray and attack the germs and bacteria where they lurk. Get every doorknob, drawer handle and countertop. Spray and wipe the bathroom, wherever they can reach. Be careful with TV remotes, keyboards and mobile devices. You don’t want to spray directly on them, or you may have another problem. Spray into a towel and then wipe the surfaces. Make sure your children are getting enough sleep. They might be at events later than usual or off of their normal schedule. This increases the chances they’ll get run down. Keep them bundled up when they go outdoors and make sure they wash their hands several times throughout the day and every time they come in from being outdoors or running errands. Other than making sure they drink lots of water and that they eat right, there isn’t much else you can do. Kids will often get sick no matter how hard you try to prevent it.

Gauge Their Condition

If a child has the flu, they should not be participating in any sort of holiday activity. You want them resting and recovering, not getting sicker and sharing the holiday bug with your family and friends. Keep them home.Let them watch Christmas movies, color in a coloring book, draw pictures, read — if they can — or have them engage in any activity they can enjoy under the covers. They really need to sleep, but they might be worried they will miss something. Vomiting and diarrhea are also holiday deal breakers. No need to explain this one. For the sake of the child’s dignity and the health and safety of your fellow celebrators, keep children with these ailments at home and near a bathroom. Wash your hands even more frequently than theirs. You can catch what they have, too. Keep them warm and comfortable. Encourage sleep but keep them entertained as best you can when they are awake. If they just have a cold or a cough, let them participate according to their interest level and ability. They will need extra help from you, though.

What About Toothaches?

It isn’t always going to be the cold and flu viruses ruining your plans. Tooth pain and dental issues can wreak havoc on your holidays as well. Tooth pain can be unbearable for an adult, let alone a child. When teeth are coming in, they are breaking through the gums, which can cause bleeding, swelling and intense pain. When your child complains of dental pain, try to get them to explain as best they can exactly where it hurts. It could just be growing teeth, but it could also be a bitten cheek or something stuck in their teeth. Popcorn kernels, for example, can get stuck deep in the gums and stay there for days. Take a look inside their mouths using a flashlight. Check for swollen or irritated gums. Be prepared to find an offending food particle such as meat, celery or the aforementioned popcorn or corn kernels. Gently floss their teeth and see if this removes the pain. Your child might also have canker sores, those small but intensely painful white dots that appear on our tongues. Have them gargle some salt water to relieve canker sores. If they are too young, or if this just isn’t going to work for your child, use a numbing agent. There are several oral numbing agents available for purchase over the counter or with a prescription. This can give your child temporary relief. If the pain persists, or if the cause is unknown, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Gutting It Out

You’ve gone to work sick — maybe you’ve even vacationed sick. You’ve certainly endured a day or more with tooth pain. It’s not fun, but sometimes you just have to gut it out for a bigger purpose or make the best of money that has already been spent. Your kids can rally, too. Some barely notice a cold or a cough, while others will bemoan it all day. Make sure your diaper bag has a good supply of tissues and a plastic bag to discard them in, just in case a trash can isn’t nearby. If you are traveling, be sure to have a portable medicine cabinet with you. Include your choice of fever reducer, cough medicine, tooth-numbing agent, ear drops and any leftover antibiotics you may have. Check the expiration date, and of course, go to your doctor when your child gets sick. But you’ll be grateful to have the medicine you need at the unfortunate time you may need it. Pedialyte or other brands of electrolyte-containing drinks are also good to have on hand for kids who might be finicky eaters and drinkers when sick. There is never a good time for your child to be sick. They’re miserable, and you’re miserable. But over the holidays, a sick kid makes a festive but busy time much less enjoyable. You want your child to have the best Christmas they can, and that’s not possible when they have a fever, feel nauseous or are otherwise incapacitated. Don’t despair. Even though you may never forget it, they probably won’t remember it. Viruses go away, and your child will be running around the house with boundless energy in no time. Take care of yourself so you can care for your child, and enjoy the holidays as best you can.

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