When I was a child, sick days were days spent tucked in bed at my grandmother’s house. She would feed me soup and Jell-O and let me watch TV in bed. Most of us remember exactly how we spent our sick days as children. It creates a pattern in our minds of what we do when we are sick. Some people remember a trip to the doctor for every illness. Some remember being pushed to go to school no matter what (these people often don’t know how to take a day off as adults).
Teaching Self-Care and Self-Awareness
I’m trying to practice conscious parenting, so I’ve thought about how my children will remember sick days when they are adults. The way I teach them to think about their bodies now, and how I show them they are cared for, is by establishing patterns they will have as adults.
I am trying to teach a balanced approach to illness and feeling bad. A child who complains of “not feeling well” might be allowed to push off a difficult lesson until the next day, in hopes that it will go better then. I am teaching them that it is okay to have days when you need to do easier work and push off until tomorrow something that you can’t focus on. When you feel good, you can do harder work. That’s just a fact. Respecting that you are not always going to be at 100%, and you can plan to work on something that doesn’t take 100% of yourself, is an important life skill.
Our Sick Day Ritual
If my child is actually sick, I give them the day off and make soup. My garlic soup is probably what they will most remember from sick days. At least I hope it is. Making them soup to nourish their bodies through an illness is how I set an example of caring for others. I want them to know that I took the time to nurture them and to know that when they are sick, they need to do things that help them heal.
Sick days often involve some read-aloud time, of either school books or something totally different, and having me close by. I sit and crochet or write on my laptop while my sick child rests near me if that’s what they need. Sometimes this means that my other kids get a sick day too, even if they aren’t sick. Sometimes my other children get to do quiet work, like assigned reading on their own, on those days. I’m teaching my children that life has an ebb and flow and that we don’t have to spend every day at top speed.
It’s OK to Need a Sick Day
We all get sick. That’s part of life. I hope my kids grow up knowing that it is okay to take a sick day to heal. I want them to know that they don’t have to push themselves to the brink of collapse like so many adults I know have done. How I show them to take sick days is just as important as how I teach them to treat others. Because it is all about how they treat themselves and practice self-care.