School is back in session and you have a good schedule in place. You are handling bedtimes like a pro and there isn’t too much drama. Just when you think things are going great – the inevitable happens. Somebody falls sick.
The first thing to happen when a child falls sick is they become a lot more attached to the parent and seek one on one attention. There is nothing quite like mum and dad to make you feel better when you are feeling stuffed up, feverish and throwing up. This can lead to your child requesting that you sleep in their room “just for one night” or they want to crawl into bed with you. You might be tempted because you want to keep an eye on them and save yourselves some extra trips back and forth in the middle of the night. But children are born boundary pushers and limit testers.
So what are some things that you can do to be attentive, but still ensure that everybody gets a good night’s sleep?
1. Sleep and plenty of rest
It is the best thing you can give your child to recover quickly from their illness. Our body’s immune system goes to work when we are in deep sleep. So giving them the opportunity for a good night’s sleep will ensure that their body goes into repair and recovery mode. Maintaining early bedtimes is always important.
2. Sleep in their room if you want to keep a close eye on them
Put an air mattress or a sleeping bag on the floor of your child’s room for a night or two until they are better again. This is better than bringing them into your own bed as it is less disruptive for your child. Maintaining their sleep environment is key and it is far easier to remove yourself from their room than removing them from your bed.
If your child has dropped all feeds in the middle of the night and now they are sleeping 10-12 hours through the night, you want to be careful about starting these feeds again. If your physician is worried about dehydration, then you need to follow the doctor’s orders to keep your child safe and healthy. Give them sips of water if you can.
4. Don’t panic
If you do fall into some bad habits and you have slipped into some old ways, there is no need to panic. You might need to start from square one, but go back to the methods that you used when you initially taught them to sleep well and speed up the process a little bit. Go back to the nap and bedtime schedule that you have been following. You know that they are perfectly capable of doing it again, since they have already mastered the skill once.
Bending rules every time they fall sick sends confusing signals to children, especially little ones. In fact when you stick to the same rules children feel more secure, are comforted and reassured by the consistency and routine.
Here’s to flu season and tackling it like a pro!