1. Ditch the guilt: Assume your job for that day is to look after and nurse your child - on call for 24 hours. That way you will still get nothing else done, but you won't be quite so frustrated or annoyed by it.
2. Be together: The greatest all-round painkiller and worry remover is a hug, and for my children, stroke their hair. Care, comfort and attention from you may not be magic, and alas can't solve everything, but it'll really help. Choose calm movies and books and sit together. If you have to work from home, do it in the same room, at least until they're asleep.
3. Never show disgust. If your child has a very runny nose, a chest or a throat infection then it's likely their tummy will be full of horrid. They won't feel hungry, and may be snotty, sick or have other tummy upsets. Be low key and try not to worry them. If they see you are calm, it's all less scary - especially if they don't remember being poorly before.
4. Help them breathe. It's exhausting struggling to breathe through phlegm and a runny nose. I've had a bottle of Vicks VapoRub in my drawer for the last 20 years, which parent doesn't? That's why I'm more than happy to write this post. I use it for the grown ups and children alike, and it's true what they say, VapoRub really works on your chest, and also when rubbed onto the soles of your feet.
5. Keep their fluids up. Offer small amounts of water regularly, and if they refuse to drink bring out the yogurt, ice cubes, ice pops, ice cream and fizzy pop. These can have the added bonus of sugar and salts, and line a sore tummy.
6. Don't panic about food. If your previously well child isn't eating normally, especially if they have a tummyache, it's not really surprising. Offer regular and varied snacks, and think about what you like to eat when you feel queasy. If you are worried then write down exactly what they do eat, because it's often more than you realise.
7. Keep it simple: Watching movies and reading books together is great, but your child's concentration is likely to be poor. Choose familiar stories, films and toys, or those suited best to a slightly younger audience. This is not the time to bring out that super hard jigsaw or practise maths, it'll just be frustrating. Choose something simple and fun, amuse them, or let them amuse you.
Vicks have created a series of #VicksTricks how-to videos so that your child can learn to be a magician. They're really simple, but impressive tricks that you can do sitting on the sofa - and they'll cheer up anyone else in the house who is feeling poorly too. Here's our favourite...
8. Measure your child's temperature sensibly. Putting your hand on their forehead often only tells you if they have been sitting in the sun or with a blanket over their head. Putting your hand on the base of their spine instead of their forehead usually gives you a better indicator of their true core temperature. Do it occasionally to get a sense of what feels normal for your child. Of course a thermometer is even more accurate.
9. A temperature isn't always a bad thing. A higher temperature helps kill off infections, our body does it on purpose and it works, but it's important to try to keep it sensible. In children a temperature of over 37.5C (99.5F) is considered a fever, and a high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above can occasionally lead to a Febrile Convulsion in some young children. All numbers are a guide. Don't panic over numbers, know your own child. My 6 and 8 year olds regularly reach temperatures nearing 39 when they are fit and well and simply sleeping.
10. There are plenty of ways to bring down a temperature before giving a recommended dose of children's medicine, but 40% of parents rely on it. Save Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for later.
Change to a cooler environment - open the window or door, move away from the fire, turn down the heating, sit in the kitchen. Go out for some fresh air.
Remove clothing - a child with a temperature doesn't usually care if they're only wearing knickers or a nappy. Dress for ease and to help reduce temperature. If your child isn't so hot that they're undressed, front or rear fastening tops, or those with big holes at the neck, are far easier to remove if your child vomits.
Use water - A soothing, gentle shower or a cold wet cloth on their forehead. Don't put small children into a lukewarm bath unless it is comfortable enough you'd sit in too, and don't leave them in longer than 15 minutes. Take them out immediately if they begin to shiver as this raises the temperature again, and obviously shows you they got too cold.
If all of the above are not possible or not working well enough, then it is probably necessary to use paracetamol or ibuprofen at the recommended doses for your child. Both will help to stabilise and bring down a temperature in a person of any age. Appoint 1 adult to be responsible for medication, and note the times you give doses.
Of course the people who really can't be ill are the grown ups, and Vicks have created First Defence (for age 12+) to help prevent a cold from taking hold. When you get the first signs of a cold, spray it in your nose and the tiny molecules of gel stick to the virus, making it pretty useless. Swallow or blow your nose, and voila. The Science works, and the reviews are good. If I ever DON'T have a runny nose already, I will be able to try it...
As a final note, we know here just how helpful magic tricks can be when you are ill. 3 1/2 years ago my partner had Meningitis, and our son (who was only 5 at the time) made him this video to cheer him up... .it helped a lot... and the comments have been making us laugh ever since...
* VapoRub is for the relief of nasal congestion, catarrh, sore throat and cough due to colds. For children aged 2 years and over. Always read the label. **Vicks First Defence is a Medical Device suitable for age 12 and over. Always read the label.
This post is an entry for the #VicksTricks Campaign with Britmums. I wasn't paid to write it, but we were sent The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep (it's very good. Very boring, but very effective), finger puppets and Vicks First Defence to try.