*This article may have affiliate links, which means we may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links we provide (at no extra cost to you). For more details, please read our privacy policy/affiliate disclosure. Thank you for supporting the work we put into this blog!

Tis the sea­son for colds and flu, and many fam­i­lies, despite their best efforts at pre­ven­tion, find them­selves tak­ing care of a child with a bad cold or an elder­ly rel­a­tive with pneu­mo­nia. No mat­ter how seri­ous the ail­ment, hav­ing some­one sick under your roof can wreak hav­oc with every­one’s schedules. You have to do every­thing you usu­al­ly do – get the oth­er kids off to school, get ready for work and head out the door on time – along with a mil­lion house­hold chores and ongo­ing responsibilities. In this arti­cle, we offer tips and strate­gies for cop­ing with an unwell fam­i­ly mem­ber and keep­ing the house run­ning smooth­ly. It’s vital that you don’t make your­self sick while car­ing for some­one else who’s sick. So while you may be tempt­ed to devote all your ener­gies to the indi­vid­ual who’s ill and neglect your own well-being, experts say don’t do it! Burn­ing out does­n’t help any­one, and it makes you more vul­ner­a­ble to becom­ing sick your­self. As the say­ing goes, “this, too, shall pass,” so take a deep breath, con­tin­ue read­ing, and learn all the ways in which you can help the sit­u­a­tion improve and take care of your loved one.

- First, Get Medical Advice

If it’s your child home with an ear­ache or the sea­son­al flu, par­ents know how to get through the worst three or four days. But if it’s some­thing more seri­ous (for exam­ple, if your child has picked up covid-19 at school), get­ting input from your physi­cian is cru­cial. Not only do you need coun­sel on car­ing for the per­son, but you may also need input on avoid­ing catch­ing the virus yourself.
  • Are you up to date on the vaccines? 
  • Have you read the most recent guide­lines on isolation? 
  • Has every­one in the fam­i­ly had their flu shots? 
All this infor­ma­tion and more is avail­able through your health­care provider, so be sure to update them on your sit­u­a­tion and make an appoint­ment if necessary.

- Make a List Of Household Tasks & Post It On The Fridge

At a time like this, every­one in the house needs to pitch in. Sit down and draft a list of tasks that need doing each week, and assign some­one to han­dle each one. Then place it in clear view – putting it on the fridge door is ide­al – so no one has an excuse for over­look­ing their responsibilities.

- Do You Need To Rearrange Living Spaces?

How do you take care of a sick family member If the per­son is like­ly to be ill for just a few days, most fam­i­lies can adapt to even dras­tic incon­ve­niences for just a few days, like hav­ing a sick child at home whose sib­ling needs to bring work home from school. How­ev­er, if the ill­ness is more seri­ous and like­ly to last for sev­er­al weeks or months, more per­ma­nent adap­ta­tions need to occur. For exam­ple: are you mov­ing your moth­er in while she copes with chemother­a­py? If so, and she’s going to be there for sev­er­al months, she deserves some space of her own. Per­haps the chil­dren can share a bed­room tem­porar­i­ly so grand­ma can have pri­va­cy. Or per­haps one of them can move down to the fam­i­ly room in the base­ment for a while. Help the fam­i­ly under­stand that the sit­u­a­tion is not per­ma­nent and that help­ing rel­a­tives is an impor­tant and lov­ing part of fam­i­ly life. Empha­siz­ing this will give the chil­dren a chance to get to know their grand­par­ents in a deep and real way that will con­tribute to good mem­o­ries lat­er in life.

- Take a Few Days Off From Work To Stabilize Things At Home

If your child is home from school because of ill­ness, tak­ing a few days away from the office should­n’t be an issue. It will make your child feel bet­ter to have a par­ent at home, so whomev­er has a more flex­i­ble sched­ule should skip going to the office for a few days. The time at home gives you the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take care of things like get­ting med­i­cine at the phar­ma­cy, can­celling or resched­ul­ing play dates, etc.

- Don’t Feel Guilty About a Few Takeout Meals

If you’ve got your hands full mak­ing soup, scram­bled eggs and oth­er “get well” foods for your sick child or rel­a­tive, it’s per­fect­ly okay to skip cook­ing for the fam­i­ly occa­sion­al­ly. We’re not sug­gest­ing that order­ing piz­za every day is a wise choice, but once in a while, let the gang choose their favourite take-out meal. Your pri­or­i­ty has to be who­ev­er is unwell, so let­ting your usu­al kitchen duties slide a bit is under­stand­able and accept­able. The same applies to house­work. Don’t feel you’ve got to vac­u­um three times a week when some­one is down with the flu.

- Use Online Ordering For Groceries & Other Supplies

If the pan­dem­ic taught us any­thing, it’s that order­ing gro­ceries and phar­ma­cy sup­plies online is a viable alter­na­tive to shop­ping in per­son. It might cost a lit­tle on top of your usu­al food bill, but the speed and con­ve­nience of gro­ceries show­ing up on your doorstep huge­ly off­set the expense.

- Plan The Next Steps

How do you take care of a sick family member If you’re deal­ing with a sick child who’s home with the flu for a week or so, orga­niz­ing mea­sures to get through the short term isn’t too hard. But what if some­one seri­ous­ly ill is going to be under your roof for sev­er­al months or even a year? What do you do in those cir­cum­stances? Most impor­tant­ly, it would be best if you made con­crete plans. First, talk to their doc­tor (with your rel­a­tive’s per­mis­sion, of course, if they’re an adult) and get a defin­i­tive diag­no­sis and prog­no­sis. The physi­cian will sug­gest strate­gies for med­ical care – get­ting a nurse in part-time, per­haps, to help when things wors­en. The doc­tor can also advise how to admin­is­ter med­ica­tions and how to use an oxy­gen mask if it comes to that. At this point, you should be in touch with hos­pice care to learn the guide­lines for admit­tance if that time comes. The point is you need to ready your­self for seri­ous out­comes and pre­pare the rest of the fam­i­ly, too. If every­one knows what to do if a med­ical emer­gency presents itself, no one will feel caught off guard in even the most seri­ous circumstances.

- Don’t Ignore The Rest Of Your Family

When some­one is sick, it’s easy to put all your focus on them and over­look the needs and wants of the rest of your fam­i­ly mem­bers. Although this ten­an­cy is easy to fall prey to, it’s impor­tant that you guard against it. Your spouse and healthy chil­dren need your atten­tion, and while some excep­tions are under­stand­able, leav­ing them to their own devices all the time has neg­a­tive con­se­quences. For exam­ple: if your 10-year-old is sick with bron­chi­tis, should you skip the school play your teenage daugh­ter is per­form­ing in? No! One par­ent can stay home, per­haps, but ide­al­ly, bring­ing in a care­giv­er for the evening is the best move. Ill­ness does­n’t mean you should abdi­cate the parental duties of oth­er chil­dren. They still need your love, sup­port and atten­tion the way they always have. Bal­ance is the key here, so take each day as it comes and find a way to demon­strate your love and con­cern for every­one in the fam­i­ly, not only the per­son who’s sick.

- Don’t Ignore Yourself, Either

Avoid­ing burnout is only pos­si­ble if you take care of your­self and get lots of rest. Get as much fresh air and exer­cise as you can – brisk walks in the morn­ing or at lunchtime go a long way toward restor­ing your ener­gy and sense of calm. If you don’t have the time, tem­porar­i­ly, to head to the gym for a work­out at the end of your day, do an online work­out at home. That way, you can unwind and do some deep breath­ing and stretch­ing but still be with­in range if your sick fam­i­ly mem­ber calls out for you.

Wrapping Up

No mat­ter how seri­ous a fam­i­ly mem­ber’s ill­ness is, it’s cru­cial that you don’t let the respon­si­bil­i­ties you have at work, to oth­er peo­ple and your­self slide. Try not to wor­ry about the future too much – not only is it unpro­duc­tive, but it’s also bad for your men­tal and phys­i­cal health. Stay­ing pos­i­tive, stay­ing in touch with the sick per­son­’s doc­tor and stay­ing on top of chores and duties around the house is the best path for­ward until the per­son recov­ers, and your sched­ule gets back to normal. Chil­dren get­ting sick in the fall and win­ter months is a nat­ur­al part of grow­ing up. And car­ing for our elders is a real­i­ty in a world in which long-term care solu­tions out­side the home are some­times less than ide­al. If you plan it prop­er­ly, and if you take care of your­self while tak­ing care of oth­ers, you can get through this chal­leng­ing peri­od in a healthy and bal­anced way.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join Our Mailing List To Receive The Latest News and Updates From Our Team. Don't Miss a Post! Get the Weekly Newsletter Sent Right to Your Inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!