Fighting Back Against Family Sick Days

Quiet rasping snores from my five year old at the table caught my attention. His yogurt sat untouched beside him, blonde tousled head resting on a green-striped right arm, while his feet curled into chair rungs below him. A moment later, his body startled awake and I carried him, protesting, to bed.

For two days, our family has slouched glassy-eyed on the couch, watching reruns of The Cosby Show and Phineas and Ferb. Fevers and hacking coughs have united us. We fill each others’ water bottles, sanitize and hand off the thermometer, and apportion the couch syrup between us. Taking turns, we make quick easy food or see to other needs, before returning weakly to the couch. My five year old has become a junkie, asking me for the “blue stuff” every few hours, his chewable grape-flavored fever-buster. A flushed camaraderie grows between the four of us as we layer legs across blankets on the couch, and click from one episode to the next.

John calls us from college, his voice a matching gravel to ours, and we compare symptoms, calculating potential end dates for him. “I’m drinking lots of water, Mom, and trying to sleep a lot,” he says raspy over the phone.

I woke up this morning feeling better than the past few days, and kicked into gear. After two days of paltry buttered bread slices, raisins, and yogurt, we were ready for something else. Topping off Morgan’s water bottle, giving Mark a chance to nap, and snuggling with Daniel, I swigged from my own green water bottle, and scoured the fridge and cupboards for meal ideas for the day.

What helps on family sick days? Wanting an assortment of easy, healthy food in reach is always our biggest lament when everyone is weak on the couch. Knowing my energy supply might be fleeting, I quickly sliced an array of carrots, purple cabbage, celery, green pepper, and mushrooms, and set the platter on the couch next to my two kids. (I know. Those aren’t necessarily our first choices either, but it was all that was left in the fridge. The apples, bananas, and oranges had been eaten earlier in the week.) Selecting the rapid button on our white box, I whirred the bread machine to a start. Fresh bread would make lunch easier, I reasoned.

As cartoons streamed from the living room tv nearby, I watched my kids nibble vegetables, and peeled and diced gnarled-limb garden parsnips, a wrinkled but still sweet rutabaga, and added them to minced garlic and onion for a slow cooked meat stew for supper. Sprinkling in oregano, rosemary, and two bay leaves, I cinched on the lid, wiped off counters, and added to my compost bucket, excited about next year’s dirt I was making.

I’m thankful to be feeling much better and see the end in sight for us all. There are fewer of us on the couch now, and more times when we head off on temporary tasks or adventures around the house. Blue pill junkie? He’s cracking jokes, beating me in Uno, and downstairs playing video games now. Daughter has picked up her art sketch pad again, and Mark is relaxing with a game now too. The fragrance of hot fresh bread wafts through the house as I type to you. Have a great week!

Has illness hit your home this month? What helps your family through it?

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  1. Unknown on January 17, 2014 at 12:18 am

    My six year old has strep and I really related to this post, which you managed to make cozy despite the subject matter. I am making vegetable beef stew right now! food is such a comfort (even though the sick 6 year old HATES veggie soup, he needs it)

  2. Southern Gal on January 17, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I'm glad you're all feeling better now!

  3. Floyd on January 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    It's amazing that even bad things have value when we look through our Father's eyes and wisdom. You do it quite well, sister. Glad you're feeling better.

  4. Jennifer Dougan on January 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm


    Hello ostrich girl! How are you? 🙂

    Oh, I'm sorry about your six year old's strep. Hoping he feels better soon. It's so sad to see our little ones ill, huh? Your stew sounds good.

    Praying for a healthier week for your gang,

  5. Jennifer Dougan on January 18, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks, Southern Gal 🙂

    Have a great week,

  6. Jennifer Dougan on January 18, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Thanks, Floyd.


  7. Dolly@Soulstops on January 20, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Oh, Jennifer,
    I am feeling for you…it is not fun when all are sick…so glad to read you are all on the mend…I can smell the bread over here 🙂

  8. cabinart on January 20, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Jennifer, the thing that helps when we are sick is finding soup in the freezer. I try to freeze extra from time to time just in case. Glad the winter's sickness is behind you now!

  9. Dontmissyoursunsetlady on January 25, 2014 at 12:28 am

    So sorry. You and your family have been sick. Glad you are on the mend. I thought I had commented, but I guess I dreamed it lol. Yes I love to laugh. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Jennifer Dougan on January 30, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks, Dolly. 🙂 Isn't fresh bread such a comforting smell?

    Thanks for stopping in.

    Jennifer Dougan

  11. Jennifer Dougan on January 30, 2014 at 9:23 pm


    Extra soup in the freezer is a great idea. I need to stock up on that too.

    Thanks for stopping in,

  12. Jennifer Dougan on January 30, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Tj,

    I'm so glad that someone else does that too. I forget things or think I have done it all the time.

    Thanks for stopping in,
    Jennifer Dougan

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