Three and a half weeks into January and someone in our house has been sick every day of it. Currently, all six of us coughing due to a particularly tenacious cold virus… Where’s my substitute teacher when I need her?

Since substitute teachers don’t come standard in our “New Homeschooler” orientation kit, we need a few coping strategies to pull out when winter germs invade!

  • Back to Basics

Scale it back to the three R’s for a few days. There’s something about getting through math and language arts that gives you a sense of accomplishment, even if it’s the only thing you did that day. If you regular curriculum is too intensive for a sick day, then pull out some math review worksheets and do some copywork. Grab a picture book and find all of the nouns, verbs, etc. for some easy grammar practice. Review is an important part of the learning process, and it’s easier on a child who’s not feeling great to review what they have learned, rather than trying to pick up something new.

  • Take Advantage of Technology

Netflix is full of some great documentaries. Find one that goes along with whatever history or science you’ve been studying and let the kids curl up with some tea to “watch TV”. Listening to audiobooks lets you fit in literature when everyone loses their voice. (Check out LibriVox for a ton of free classic audiobooks.) Don’t forget those educational apps you have downloaded on your mobile device. Practicing geography or math facts is fun and easy when you get to use Mom’s iPod! Technology can be your friend when everyone has the sniffles.

  • Shortcut Meals

Juggling everything is challenging enough on a normal day. When you throw sick kids (or moms) into the mix it’s that much crazier. Frozen pizzas, toaster waffles, and canned soup are pantry must-haves for those days! Don’t worry if it’s not made from scratch. Don’t worry if it’s not the healthiest option. You’re in survival mode. Trust me, just getting everyone fed is good enough at this point!

  • Nap Breaks

If someone is clearly tired out, then tuck them in with a warm blanket and let them nap. Sleep is sometimes the best medicine. If you’re the one needing the nap, don’t feel guilty if you curl up on the couch and turn on a movie for the kids to watch while you snooze!

  • Everyone Needs a Sick Day Now and Then

When the kids have been up all night throwing up, just take a sick day! If they were going to “regular school”, then they’d be staying home anyway. You can always catch up later.

Colds and stomach bugs are an unavoidable part of raising kids, whether or not you homeschool. Having a game plan for dealing with those days won’t make a substitute teacher magically appear, but it will help you get through the day!

What are your best tips for dealing with homeschool “sick days”?