How to be ill with a toddler

Being ill sucks, but being ill with a toddler is currently the hardest thing I’ve had to do all week, yet I feel like a lightweight for even mentioning it.

Let me put it this way – you remember that time when your limbs felt like they were on fire and glazed with ice? That every little movement both ached and exhausted you. Your knees cracked like they were riddled with arthritis, and the back of your throat burned like you had swallowed acid. And lets not forget the cold sweats and burning shivers. You remember that? Would you have gone to work like everything was fine, or would you have called in sick so you could writhe around in self-pity and sweat?

If your answer was ‘go to work’, then I genuinely salute you because no one should have to go through being ill at the same time as having to concentrate on anything else. And by anything else – I mean look after anyone else. Because lets face it – being a mummy is basically a 24hr job – only you aren’t even paid for it. And no – I don’t count purple scribbles all over the walls as a form of compensation, even if she smiles at me while doing it.

Today I’ve learned some very simple ‘rules’ for being ill with a toddler, which I though I’d share with you all.

1) Drop your standards – When you have minimal energy to give, give the minimal effort. By this I mean letting go of your usual high standards, and just see where the day leads you. When it comes to choosing clothes, literally grab whatever is nearest. If your toddler wants to do some art, let them use pink and red pens on dark red paper. Now is not the time to try and teach them about colour blending, perspective or the art of hexagons. I would also advise you quit feeling guilty that you aren’t getting them out to the swings today. It’s just one day – if they can play in the garden instead, then great. You can’t be using up your precious energy pushing the swing high enough for your toddler to lick the clouds. Remember that would only burn you out – not them!

Brolly2) Let there be mess – When it comes to general mess making, you have to approach things from the angle that everything can be tidied later (preferably when someone else comes home to help!) It helps here if the weather is nice enough to base yourselves outside. Today I spent most of the day sat on a picnic mat in the garden, letting Willow fling sand around with a scoop. And yes, some of it was flung into my face. Ordinarily I would have tried to encourage her to keep it all inside her play table, but today it simply didn’t matter. Bits of sand were flung high enough to hit the washing above her, but who cares? It would dry and brush off easily enough!

3) Don’t bother trying to reason – Willow has been asking to play in the paddling pool since Christmas. We have obviously spent many hours reasoning with her, because we didn’t fancy filling an inflatable with water and watching it freeze over, just to prove a point. Today it reached a surprising 16ºC and you know what – the paddling pool came out. It wasn’t exactly warm enough for her to spend too long in the water, but she had loads of fun. At first she spent fifteen minutes running around it shouting ‘look mummy, it’s the paddling pool’. Then she spent five minutes dipping one foot in and out, followed by the last ten minutes of standing in it and kicking water everywhere. I had thirty minutes of not having to move and it was bliss.

4) Use clever trickery – Willow kept asking me over and over again to fill up her mini watering can, but the going back and forwards to the tap was killing me. Instead, I turned the outside tap on so it dribbled, and this gave her the option to fill it up herself without having to ask me. Usually I would have been plagued with thoughts of ‘but it’s a waste of water’ but today, it was the water or me – I chose me! There was another advantage too – it dribbled so slowly that she had to wait ages even to fill her tiny can, so that ‘wasted’ even more of the day – Bonus!

5) Don’t look at the clock – Being ill means everything feels like a challenge and time moves to the rhythm of a new clock. I got through today by doing whatever I felt I could do at whatever time I could do it. We ate when it seemed right, and she went to bed when everything else came to a natural end. If this means a slight change in your routine, I really wouldn’t worry about it. If you try and keep them up ‘just one more hour’, you’ll only burn yourself out.


So there you have it – 5 tips on how to be ill with a toddler. If this is something you are going through right now, then you truly have my sympathy. I have blisters covering the back of my throat, and I think I will literally cry if anyone mentions anything along the lines of ‘having a bit of a sore throat’. Anything that hurts so bad it makes you want to rub actual salt in the wound just because you know it might help heal it – well that can’t ever be described as ‘a bit of’. Haha. Yes, I’m feeling rather sensitive right now!


Just remember to pace yourself and go to bed as soon as you physically can. Rest is the most important thing! And speaking of bed.. night night! x

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