Sick day boredom busters

The dreaded Hand-Foot-and-Mouth has ripped through your house like the plague, and you’re home with a child who’s too contagious to go to school but too well to sleep all day. Sound familiar? Here’s an idea: keep everyone from going stir crazy by turning your home into an activity station command center, setting up a variety of themed areas and a rotation schedule that’ll keep monotony at bay and make the day go by faster.

Set a 15- or 30-minute timer for each of the below low-energy activities, and move on to the next. Before you know it, the clock will strike 5 p.m. and Dad will be on call.

Arts & crafts

The best art projects always come from materials found around your home. Gather paper plates, cardboard boxes, toilet paper rolls and more, and let your child’s imagination run wild making everything from musical instruments to bird feeders. Be creative in finding supplies!

Bath time

You may as well sneak something from your to-do list into the rotation. Make it extra fun by adding bubbles, or by pulling out toys not normally used in the bath (beach toys and kitchen utensils work well).

Board games

Round up the whole gang–Candyland, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Hi Ho Cherry-O–and host a gaming tournament. No board games? A deck of cards will work–kids of all ages love Go Fish.


Whether it’s with Legos, Magna-Tiles or Mega Bloks, give your child a timed building challenge (build something that’ll help you stay warm in Chicago, a transportation vehicle of the future) and put their creativity to the test. Judge them on the basic design principles: functionality, aesthetics and innovation.


A catch all for dramatic play and make believe, housekeeping can include everything from cooking in a pretend kitchen to playing doctor, giving you a check up to make sure you didn’t catch any germs.


Find a corner of your home and turn it into a cozy reading nook with pillows and a blanket. Pull out a mixture of your child’s favorite books and ones they haven’t read in awhile. If your child is old enough to read, let them flip through the books at their own pace. For the younger set, you can play librarian.


Strategically dig up puzzles that require a lot of concentration and will take a long time to complete.

Science experiments

Make your child say “wow” with simple DIY science experiments. Check out an array of simple activities (tie dye milk, fizzy balloons, soda explosion) from Scholastic Kids that mostly require materials found at home.

Sous chef

Look for an easy recipe using what you’ve got in the fridge, and let your child help get dinner ready. Give them simple tasks that make them feel important, like cracking eggs and mixing batter. Caution–just because they are on the mend doesn’t mean they are sick-free. Make sure to do extra hand washing.

Video chat

After a long day at home, you will definitely need a break from your little one. Dial up grandma, grandpa or another out-of-town relative and let them catch up with your child while you catch a much needed mommy break.

What activities do you do with your child when they are home sick? Let us know in the comments below!

Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.
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