{Parental Self-Care} AH-CHOO! Prepare a Little TLC for When You're Too Sick to Homeschool

Yes, sooner or later the parent responsible for homeschooling is going to fall ill, at least for a day or two.

Most likely this will happen during the winter months, on a particularly dreary, wet day, when it is impractical to send the kids outside all afternoon while you try to recover and sneak in some work on your computer.

Blame it on Murphy’s Law, but it’s going to happen.

To be prudent and proactive, consider creating a lidded box—we’ll call it a Tender Love and Care (TLC) Box—filled with care items to help you (and your family) get through the worst of whatever bacterium or dreaded virus has brought you down.

Below are some household, healthcare, and craft items that you might want to stash inside your personal TLC container and put in a shelf in your closet. Naturally, for the perishable goods and medicines, you’ll want to check their expiration dates regularly.

• Eco-friendly paper plates, napkins and utensils to cut down on dishwashing, housekeeping, and the spread of germs
• Two rolls each of toilet paper and paper towel in case you run out of them and can’t make it to the store
• A box of paper hand towels to cut down on bathroom towel use and minimize the contamination
• A new bottle of your favorite countertop cleaner
• Hand sanitizer wipes and gels (all-natural or anti-bacterial)
• Enough cans of soup/ravioli, pre-packaged fruit cups, dried fruit, and crackers or some other easy-to-prepare foods to feed your family for at least two days
• Assorted adult and kid-friendly cold and stomach virus remedies
• Batteries and small candles (with matches) in assorted sizes

One parent that I know gift wrapped several small toys for a long-distance car trip and distributed them every few hours if the children were behaving well. If you think that technique would be effective with your own children when you’re feeling under the weather, then consider adapting it for your household’s TLC Box.

To that end, include several new small, inexpensive toys, age-appropriate books and/or comic books, games, novelty items and craft supplies (coloring books, Silly Putty, PlayDoh) that can distract children (giftwrap optional). Crayola makes an excellent line of washable markers and crayons—worth the investment if you can’t closely supervise creative kids. Older children and teens might be more appreciative of an iTunes card for music or a new app. Plus, if the eldest kids go the extra mile to keep the household running while you’re down for the count, then spending a bit more money on them might be in order.

Are these “gifts” bribery? You could call them that. Or you can consider them part of a temporary, limited-time offer to incentivize good behavior while you’re battling a cough or resting your woozy head on the cool tile in the bathroom. The choice is yours.

For your own mental well-being and extreme self-care, don’t forget to tuck into the TLC Box your favorite novel, movie, or packets of tea to make the best of an uncomfortable situation. After all, if you’re working and homeschooling, being laid low by a contagious illness is as good as an excuse as any to just relax for awhile.

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