Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mom + Kid Activities To Do While on Bed Rest

Josie and Mama
One of Mama's Many Sick Days
I've been forced to spend as many daytime hours in bed this past month as up and around while waiting for my insurance company to approve my final "Hail Mary" treatment, and I got to wondering: is it possible to make bed rest a fun time for our kids without reneging on our doctor's orders to actually rest in bed? Sure! And you might just create some good memories along the way as you calmly and quietly play in that bed instead of the backyard for a while. So, here are some ideas of things to do with your kids when you can't--or aren't supposed to--get out of bed, depending on the age and interests of your own little ones while you're lying down.

Do NOT try to fill your day with activities! You know your physical limitations, no one else. Be honest with yourself and don't be a martyr, because once we've hit the bed-rest level of our illness, the next step is usually the hospital, and no one wants that because in the hospital, playing in bed lasts only a few minutes (but its "up" and "down" buttons really are fantastic fun).

Play Hospital: You get to be the patient! Don't worry too much: some dolls and stuffed animals can take some of the medicine, too, to make for a full ward. If your daughter has as much experience visiting Mom in the hospital and watching doctors and nurses take care of her as mine has, well you are in for a treat. Put together a "Doctor Bag" complete with juice-medicine if you don't have a play one and let their imaginations and natural care-taking abilities loose. Some treatments may be slightly painful, but that's nothing new to us :)

Color & Draw: Clipboards or breakfast trays come in handy when crafting in bed. But if you don't have one, try an old bookshelf that's no longer connected to the other shelves, or an old cardboard box for a table. Crayons and colored pencils are better for your bedspread, but you can always scatter old towels around if markers are a must. Coloring books are optional; you might want to keep a secret stash of them tucked away for days like this or for your own kids' sick days. I prefer freestyle myself. I like to ask my 2 1/2 year old to draw what she'd like to dream about, or what she'd like Mom to dream about, at naptime if naptime is coming up.

Read &Write: Enough said. Cuddle up and read new stories and your old stories and all the favorites. Once you and your kiddos are full of inspiration, encourage them to write and illustrate some stories of their own. This can turn into enormous educational fun as well as great keepsakes and gifts.

Catch Up On "Thank You," "Get Well," & Other Cards or Letters: Ask your kids to help you make your own cards or let them help you write and sign the ready-made kind. Either way, this is sure to be a useful craft that will take up time, help kids with their spelling, grammar, penmanship and alphabet, as well as teach them gratitude, sympathy, and the importance of reaching out to those you love to let them know that when they're hurting or celebrating, you're hurting or celebrating, too.

Watch Cartoons & Movies (with popcorn!): A movie in the middle of the afternoon with popcorn in bed?? What could possibly be better than that?!? Yep, it'll get messy, or salty and crumby in the sheets is more like it, but that's why God invented dustbusters or a change of bedding. Remember those really old greats like Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny? These terrific, albeit violent and gun-heavy, cartoons of old might be too brutal for your little ones, only you can decide that, but for my family, they are awesome sources of good humor and a connection from our parents' era to ours to our kids'. You can find a lot of the old classic Looney Tunes and Disney cartoons on YouTube channels like Bygone Tunes and the Cartoon Channel,

Board Games & Puzzles: They aren't just for rainy days. We like just about any puzzle and as far as board games go, our faves include "Operation," "Curious George Matching Game," "The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game," "Alphabet Go Fish," and "Jenga" that isn't exactly played by the rules. Or any rules at all. Do you have any suggestions for good sick-day family board games? Please leave them in the comments.

Bed-Picnic or Tea Party: Great for lunch and snack times, or just for pretend food if food isn't all that appetizing.

Listen to Music: I mean really listen to it. What better time to discover a new favorite song? Don't limit this time to kid's music only. This is a great time to close our eyes and listen to the greatest of the greats: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Vivaldi... (see "The Best of Classical Music" video on YouTube to start), or try some contemporary greats like Eric WhitacrePentatonix, or Disney's original Fantasia (now on Netflix Insta-watch along with the 2000 version) or other Disney greats like this Love Medley. You might want to team this up with drawing and see what wonderful works of art make their way through.

Make Beaded Necklaces and Other Jewelry: This is pretty self-explanatory. For younger kids, your can use large beads and wide ribbon or even wire (but beware of possible pokes if using wire). 

Cars and/or Trains: Instead of setting up the usual Little People town or train set on the floor, set it up on the bed. See what kind of mountains and valleys you can fashion out of your blankets and pillows.

Old Clothes Showdown: Kids like to see what tiny things they used to fit into. Now might be a good time to go through the too-smalls and pack them away in a box if you've been waiting to do that chore. This might morph into a fashion show for Mom.

Paper or Magnetic Dolls: My daughter adores these new magnetic dolls (well, their new to me), or anything that's easy for her to dress and undress. I don't think there's a boy's version, sorry. Transformers? Those are always fun and can be played in bed, too.

Phone Calls or Video Chat: Find someone who's home during the day to visit with via the webcam or the good old fashioned cell phone and have a short chat, even if you don't look your best. It doesn't hurt to let loved ones see the real you on a bad day now and again.

Stroll Down Memory Lane: Sick days were made for this! Look through photo albums, scrapbooks, and baby books with your kids: they love it no matter how old they are. Tell your kids' stories about birthdays, other special times and good memories, and the people you've loved who've gone on to heaven, and let the kids tell you a few stories, too.

Make a Bird or Mousehouse: With the help of your kiddo(s), wash a milk or juice carton inside and out and glue the top closed. Cut a dowel twice the length of the milk carton, and then cut a hole just large enough for the dowel to fit through on either side of the carton at the same level. Slide the dowel through. You can apply glue where the wood meets the carton, but I've never found this to be a very helpful step myself. Next, cut a door in the carton large enough for the birds or mice to get through. If you're making a birdhouse, poke two holes in the top of the carton; thread a string or piece of yarn through it and tie it (you can skip this step if you're making a mousehouse). Let your kids decorate the house as they see fit and allow it to dry. When the house dries, and when you are feeling better, help the kids fill the feeder with birdseed or fruit and peanut butter and hang it from a tree branch outside for a birdhouse or set it next to a tree or building for a mousehouse.
Josie's Christmas Play Doh Creations
Did I miss a few activities you and your little ones enjoy on bed rest days? What are your favorite bed rest activities to do with your kids? Leave them in the comments or email them to