How to Care for Very Active Toddler When Ill?

Updated on February 17, 2008
T.S. asks from Chaska, MN
21 answers

Due to a severe chronic illness, I struggle taking care of all my 3 year old daughter's daily needs. My husband works 12-14 hour days so during this time, it all falls on me. Many days I'm too weak to barely make it out of bed. We have child-proofed our house to the max so she stays safe throughout the day, but she has to watch channel 2 all day since I'm in bed most of the time. We can't afford day-care since I am unable to work and all grandparents are elderly and unable to help out. We already have to rely on others for housekeeping and meals. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks :)

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K.W.

answers from Sioux City on

Wow. It does sound very difficult for you. I had a little taste of that when I was on bedrest during a couple of pregnancies, at one point for 6 weeks with a 20 month old. I had to rely on the help of friends a lot. Sometimes they would come in for the morning, until my daughter napped. One day a week I would go over to our pastor's home, my neighbor would drop me off on her way to work, along w/ my daughter, and I would rest on her couch and she would care for my daughter and I.

One thought. Even though you are in bed most of the day, it would still be important for your daughter to have a consistent schedule, with a variety of activities. Can you vary the TV watching w/ some other activities? We always do a room time w/ our kids somewhere after breakfast, for about an hour. You could do something similar, but in your room. You could tell her where she should be, on a certain area of the floor, or in a comfy chair, or even in bed w/ you, and it would be time for her to play quietly w/ a few toys or a few books. If you're just starting out, you would have to keep the expectations low, like 5 or 10 minutes. This would be a time where she can't visit w/ you, just play on her own. Maybe at the end of that you could do something interactive w/ her, briefly. Then you could direct her to the next activity, coloring, or something that is manipulative. It is very important that she be using her hands a lot at this age, things as simple as playing w/ blocks, Lego, or passing a ball from hand to hand. Then you could allow her to watch 1/2 to 1 hour of TV while you rest. And then direct her some other activity, even if it is just to get out some blocks and build, or to play in a slightly different area of the room or house.

I have a friend who is a kindergarten aid, and they are finding out that children who have watched too much TV or too many video games, where they don't use both hands, have trouble learning to read. Using both hands helps w/ the crossover in the brain, which is necessary for learning to read. There are exercises you can do to train the brain, and they can learn to read, but it makes it tougher.

I think having you direct her day, which maybe you are already doing, will give her more security and boundaries, than as you said, watching TV all day. Even if she is watching more than you would like (if you weren't sick), I think if you break it up, maybe plan around her favorite shows, and let her know that you are still caring for her, and giving her direction, she will thrive. Keep pouring on the love in whatever way you are able, and maintain consistent boundaries for her. These are her biggest needs right now.

If you are struggling w/ discipline issues, perhaps your husband can partner w/ you in the evenings to do discipline and training, and communicating that you are parenting in his absence during the day, so that you know you can count on her obedience even if you can't get up, or if he is not there. She just needs to know that you are in charge, even if you can't get up. This will give her tons of reassurance in this difficult situation, and it's what kids need in any situation. Otherwise she will feel a bit lost and as though it is up to her to care for herself. There is nothing wrong w/ her being a bit more independent than other kids her age, and helping to care for herself, as long as she knows this is your instruction to her, and not just a survival skill she has had to figure out on her own.

Is there a church or pastor w/ whom you can share your needs? You really need some increased support. Can your doctor give you any suggestions for some community resources? I know you probably hate to get anything state involved, but is there a Head Start program that she could get involved with? Or would you rather keep her home w/ you?

Blessings, and grace to you.

2 moms found this helpful
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M.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

Sorry that you are ill! I think that your daughter needs to be around children her age so I would look into something part-time for care or even a neighbor to have a play date once or twice a week. YOu also could try and call Crisis Nursery in your area and sometimes they have people that can help you out. I would even check with a High school kid for a babysitter and have them come over and take her outside and play with her for a couple hours for you in the evening or when ever.

Hope that you can figure something out for her and so you can get your rest.

Missy

1 mom found this helpful
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R.N.

answers from St. Cloud on

Have things you can do in your bed together. Reading books, coloring, playing "this little piggy".

I was sick in bed for 3 months with this pregnancy and my toddler spent alot of time cuddled with me. His favorite thing was to cuddle with Mama and bringing toys to play with and ask the names of all the body parts. There is still a lot of interaction that can happen while you are lying in bed, and then when she is old enough to follow directions you can have her play games like "bring me something blue. Wonderful, now bring me something purple....ect"

1 mom found this helpful
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A.M.

answers from La Crosse on

What about Head Start or a program like that? It's Head Start in Wisconsin, I'm not sure about in Minnesota. It's early pre-school for kids. It would give you a break and get your daughter out with other kids. I would also call whatever the family resources is in your area. If you talk to your daughter's pediatrician they might be able to refer you to someone. There's a LOT of help out there, you just have to know where to find it.
Good luck!

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C.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

Wow, mama, you are in a very tough situation. Looking into any kind of assistance you can get would be a great idea. Also, I know you said you already rely on others for housekeeping and meals, but it seems to me that your situation warrants requesting some help with your daughter too. Could you send a note out to your family/friends in the area explaining your predicament and asking if anyone had any "ideas" that could help you? Maybe some would step up to help out or maybe they'd have some connections for you. I wouldn't feel bad, like you're asking too much. Your family needs help right now, that's what friends and family are for!

If you do have your daughter with you during the day, try to get her some activities to do either with you or in the same room as you. Hullabaloo is a fun, active game, that my 4.5 and almost 3 yr olds both like, even if the younger one doesn't exactly follow the directions just yet. Or you could have "dance time" -- put on some music and have your daughter show you her best dance moves. Art is always fun and engaging. Could you keep a bucket of crayons and markers and a notebook full of paper beside your bed? Your daughter could sit with you and color. Also, when you first try to limit tv time, it could be difficult so maybe try your new schedule on a day when you have some help? I really do feel for you, I can't imagine trying to care for my little ones while coping with a chronic illness.

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L.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

I can empathise (also chronically ill). Do you have insurance? If not, file with MinnesotaCare. It sounds like you could use a Companion Homemaker that would allow you to spend what little energy you have on your daughter.

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S.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I'm so sorry...this must be really hard. I know how tough it is when I'm sick, and that's temporary! Is there someone in your neighborhood with a similar-aged child that would take your daughter over for playdates? I know you said you can't afford day care, but is there a teen sitter in the neighborhood that you can pay a few dollars an hour to come over and give your daughter some more active playtime? Best of luck to you...

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L.S.

answers from Appleton on

Hi,
I'm sorry to hear your story..I too have a 3yr old girl and know how much energy they have.I've found some fun computer games that can keep them busy...some hooked on phonics, one called pajama sam (versions 1,2 AND 3) Of course you may need to help but maybe you can put it near you. Art projects are always fun without a lot of work (sometimes)
I also am curious to know if you have looked into alternative care....holistic meds for help. I am a veterinarian, but also run a business geared toward natural health. I've heard some amazing stories from people and about their pets. Email me if you want to talk. [email protected]____.com

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S.W.

answers from Minneapolis on

Is it possible for you to get child care assistance from the county? A neighbor that could watch you child and in exchange your husband could do some handy work around her house on the weekend?

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M.F.

answers from Minneapolis on

Is there a teenager that could come over and help out? You could pay her just a couple dollars an hour (since your home). It would me for the company for her and gives you a little help. I would think $2-3 would be plenty if she's a young teen. Look for another mom in the neighborhood that could take for 2-3 hours/day to give you a break and gets her around other kids. If you call the state or social services there must be some sort of assistance for you that can provide help to you. Both financially and maybe something for your daughter.
I am sorry to hear about your illness and I hope thins get better.

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D.N.

answers from Wausau on

Are there any preschools your daughter could attend? Many of these are available for situations like yours. In this way, she would be getting activities which would help her development as well as giving you time to get the rest you need.

Another idea would be to get her activities--even simple ones like blocks etc and you could teach her to count to sort them in different ways. She would be learning good skills and it would be a way for you both to work together without wearing you out.

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R.H.

answers from Grand Forks on

My only idea is to check into if there is a head start program in your town that takes that age. Your daughter may quilify because of your situation. and that would give her interaction with other kids and you some time durning the day to rest with out have her needs on your mind. If not head start check around for other programs that my be out there.

Good Luck
Becky

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J.B.

answers from Des Moines on

If you are homebound due to health conditions, you should qualify for SSI. By qualifying for SSI I believe (in some states at least) you automatically qualify for some other forms of assistance, like child care assistance. You should at least check that out, your daughter needs to be in an environment where she can interact with other children/adults more. If you let her watch TV all day at this age, she could have attention problems later in school.

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A.M.

answers from Des Moines on

If it's rest you need, can you make a palet on the floor and lay there? That way, you'd be down on her level and could better "play" with her. You could encourage her to do puzzles, color, read, build with blocks, watch her play dress up, etc. Could you sit in a chair instead of lay in bed? I don't know what the health condition is but if it's rest and no lifting that you need, a chair or palet on the floor would seem like a good idea. Also, does your husband take her to church or preschool? Maybe arrange a playdate or two with neighbors or friends during the week. If these parents know you need the help, I'm sure they would be happy to give you that time for resting. As for cheap childcare, you could look into church's confirmation classes. That are required to do community service projects and you could possibly get a few hours of help for them to come play with your child to count as a community service project. Maybe they could take her to the park or sitting and do crafts with her. Girl scouts might also be possible for this.

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S.K.

answers from Minneapolis on

T.,

I feel for you. I went through this when pregnant with #2, 3 and 4. There is no perfect solution to this, but there are things you can do to make it more livable.

There are some things you can do together while in bed. Simple board games like Candyland, Shutes and Ladders, Go Fish and Memory are good for this age. Stories, songs, and not-to-messy arts and crafts are good. Tea parties with stuffed animals are fun. She does set up and clean up and all you have to do is lie in bed with a plastic tea cup on your chest.

Do you have a digital camera or video camera? There are even digital cameras for kids. Take silly pictures or have her make a movie and watch it. (If you don't want her touching the camera, set it up so she can pose in front of it. Even better, have your husband hook it up to the TV before he leaves for work so she can watch herself on the TV set.) Get her a cheap CD player with stories on CDs and lots of dancing music. Your husband can find tons of them at the local library.

www.sesameworkshop.org has free educational computer games for kids this age. Make some sock or paper bag puppets together and have your daughter put on a puppet show for you or she can dress up and do a fashion show. Have her get things for you so that she is the one doing all the running and you do all the resting.

When she gets restless, you can give her an obstacle course, so to speak, and time her with your watch. Ex. - Run to the kitchen, spin around 3 times, tap every chair in the dining room and count them, run to the bedroom, bring back your favorite teddy to me as fast as you can. Keep a log and see if she can improve her time.

Does she still take an afternoon nap? If not, she at least needs an hour of quiet time by herself in her room every day - and so do you.

Of course, this won't solve all your problems. Are there some friends of yours or neighbors or church members in your congregation who could take her at least one morning a week? I hope you are able to overcome your illness. My prayers will be with you.

Take care,
S.

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J.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

We do respite care for folks in similar situations, and my best advice is to call on friends. (To other moms out there, you must develop a base of friends, early on, that you can call in a pinch.) A good church family is a must, in my opinion. They'll be there for you when times are hard. If you don't have one, find a local fellowship and plug in. Oftentimes they will have a ministry to help people with chronic physical/other issues that put a strain on marriage and family. In these cases it really does take a village!

Homeschool SAHM of seven

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A.T.

answers from Eau Claire on

God bless you, T.. I will pray for your health. Maybe there's a mom's group out there. Anything available through your church? Any local church? I am willing to bet that there are a few mothers in your area that you could invite to come over and see what you're going through. I'm sure it seems like a horrible thing to have to put them and yourself through, but it sounds like good old fashioned networking a few days of the week or most afternoons may be the best remedy. Maybe there's a stay at home mom that would enjoy the company for their own toddler. Are there any "adopted" family members that could help out? If your mornings are your best time of the day maybe you could keep that time with your precious little one and sacrifice the afternoon for your rest and your babe's one on one with another trusted adult.

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S.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi T.,
My name is S. and I also have a very active 3 year old. Were do you live? Sounds like its time for some social time for you both. If you feel up to it, maybe your daughter and mine could meet some time for some play time.... My daughter needs some friends she can play with. They have so much energy at that age.... I read to her, paint, do crafts, take her out for social time, Park time. ect... She is learning to write her name we have some school time too. My husband also works many hours so I completely understand how every thing falls on you and if your ill this is such a heavy wait for you to carry when your so ill. I like to help if I can. Here is a little bit of info on me.

I run my own business The Errand Queen www.theerrandqueen.com I advertise on Momma Source. I also sell childrens books. So feel free to check that out www.ubah.com/l2690 if you like. I could also offer my services to you as well as I see you need them. I like to help you out with maybe setting a play date up for you both only if your feeling up to it. Are you in the metro area?
I stay home and take care of my daughter who will be 4 in May and I am expecting in March. I am currently working part time out of my home. But also would love to meet with you if you like that. I have referances. And I belong to a moms group. If you feeling un sure to meet. I been married to my wonderful husband for 23 yrs. And soon will have my second child. And I also have a wounderful step son who is married.

Please let me know if I can help in any way. I completely understand! But if it's possible maybe I can help you out with your active daugher. I like that for my daughter as well.

Thank you!
Hope to hear from you!
S.

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S.H.

answers from Omaha on

T., I;m sorry to ear about you having an illness that prevents you from doing all the things you would like to do with your daughter,well she is three and it sounds like you have made it safe around the house for her,now how to keep her busy, have you thought about a pre-school a couple days a week?that way she will learn to be around children her own age, and get a start for kindergarten,if you arent able to drive her to one maybe there is a parent who could come by and drive her for you maybe a parent from the pre-school who is going that way anyway.

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D.G.

answers from Fargo on

sounds like you're in a really difficult situation...and you're a trooper to have managed as well as you have....but you should contact various community organizations to get some outside help...i know easter seals has various programs available for families of people with disabilities....also check with united way for recommendations....and perhaps churches in your area....there are lots of community services out there....she's old enough to go into a day care or preschool and i know that there are organizations who provide care for no fee....would be good for her and good for you....

i just got a brochure from the easter seals society in the mail...it says they offer information and referral services ....their local phone numbers are ###-###-#### and ###-###-####

meanwhile, hang in there....write and let all of us know how you work things out....

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D.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

do you qualify for any social security (SSI)? If you are disabled due to your illness, i would think you could qualify for some help. I would call social services or ask your doctor for a referral.

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