But every year you get one, and every year you get through it relatively unscathed. But what they don't really tell you about parenting a child who is either in daycare or school, is that the months between November and March are basically just one giant germ infestation. Or, rather, parents totally do tell you but you just don't really believe them because when somebody says they've been sick with one thing or another for 4 months straight that seems like total bullshit. Except - IT'S TOTALLY NOT.
So here we are, in March, and we've all been sick for months to varying degrees of horribleness. But the absolute worst of it was a recent stomach flu. I also remember, back in my pre-parent days, a friend who called her mom (who lived in a different city) to come and stay with her while she had a stomach flu. "Well I can't take care of him (her 2 year old) while I'm throwing up," she said. And I remember thinking that was sort of weird. I mean, he's two, how hard could that be? Can't you just put him in front of the TV for the day? Oh silly pre-parent me!
Last week Mac had a stomach flu. And then, just as he recovered, Tracy and I got it at the same time which meant that we had to take turns lying in the living room pretending to take care of Mac while the other person got to sleep in bed. And quite frankly that was pretty horrible and I wished I could call my mom to come over.
But necessity is the mother of invention, so, here are my four ways to entertain a toddler while lying down.
1. Dead Man's Twister
This one requires a sheet of stickers. But if you have a toddler you have a sheet of stickers somewhere. Basically you lie on your stomach or back on the floor or couch and occasionally call out things like "red sticker on mom/dad's knee" and "puppy sticker on mom/dad's back." Then the kid follows the instructions and covers you with stickers.
2. Hungry, Hungry Laundry Basket
You lie on the couch or floor next to a laundry basket and say things like "laundry basket is hungry for something red" and "laundry basket is hungry from something square." Your kid then scours the rooms he can access to collect those things. Make sure you are playing in only childproofed areas.
3. City on my Back
You've probably seen one of those t-shirts on Pinterest with roads and buildings on the back. The person wearing the shirt lies on his/her stomach and kids can use dinky cars to drive along the routes. On Pinterest these shirts and colourful, the roads and buildings are drawn well, and they are very clearly Pinterest-worthy. But toddlers have much lower standards. Just take any old t-shirt and throw some duct tape on the back. Take a marker and draw some centre lines on the "roads" and you are good to go.
4. Stuffy Hide and Seek
Tell your toddler to go down the hall, cover his eyes, and count to ten. From your lying down position take your kid's favourite stuffed animal and throw it across the room somewhere. When your kid is done counting s/he can come back and find the stuffed animal. And repeat.
I hope that helps if you are struck down with a stomach virus while home with a healthy and energetic toddler. And hang in there parent friends - cold and flu season is almost over!
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