Now Is The Perfect Time To Create A 'Sick Day Box'

by Rachel Garlinghouse
Originally Published: 
Yuri_Arcurs/Getty and Suzy Hazelwood/Pexels

As my kids got closer and closer to heading back to school, I felt some serious coronavirus panic kick in. Was I making the right decision for each of them? With four children, we didn’t want to take an all or nothing approach. Instead, we decided what was best for each child’s academic, social, physical, mental, and emotional needs. Currently, we have two kids at school in-person (with many precautions), one homeschooling, and one remote learning.

I can’t control what other people do, but I certainly can take a proactive approach to the virus. Besides being responsible and following guidelines, including wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing, I’ve decided to create a sick day box. This idea came to me after brainstorming with a mom friend, who is also a registered nurse, about our back-to-school anxiety. If and when someone in my house gets ill, even if it’s a minor cold, we will be prepared. I’d rather not reactively rush to the store trying to find essentials.

If you’re like me, you like to be ready-to-roll. Of course, this whole pandemic isn’t exactly what we had in mind when we were thinking about back-to-school and sick season. If we’ve learned anything since March, it’s that this virus is real, it’s serious, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Rather than taking a wait and see approach, we’re going to get our sick day box together. Here’s some of the things we’re purchasing now.

Buy a no-touch thermometer.

If you’re kids are headed back into the classroom, you may need a quality thermometer anyway. Lots of schools are requiring that kids come to school already having their temperature checked, and this is then verified at school as well. A no-touch thermometer is also a way to avoid having to thoroughly wipe it down after each check. I have noticed a lot of the no-touch thermometers are back-ordered right now, so I recommend choosing and ordering as soon as possible.

Research pulse-ox meters.

One of the main concerns with COVID-19 is that a person’s oxygen levels get too low. My friend suggested that we have a pulse-ox meter at home. A pulse-ox meter is a small device that clips on to the top half of a person’s finger. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A pulse oximeter help assess your breathing by measuring the oxygen saturation of arterial blood. It also measures your heart rate.” According to Yale Medicine, “The logic is that shortness of breath, a symptom of the disease, may not be easy—or even possible—for a person to reasonably self-assess. What’s more, doctors report that some COVID-19 patients suddenly develop a condition called ‘silent hypoxia,’ where people look and feel comfortable—and don’t notice any shortness of breath—but their oxygen levels are dangerously low.” A normal oxygen saturation should be above 95%.

Stock up on comfort foods.

What foods bring someone comfort when they are ill? There are many tried-and-true options. Ginger and mint can help with an upset stomach, so grocery items like peppermint tea and ginger ale are helpful. Chicken noddle soup, bone broth, BRAT foods (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast), and electrolyte-replacing drinks are often favorites. Staying hydrated while ill and recovering is critically important.

Research vitamins.


This one is controversial. Supplements such as vitamin C, elderberry, zinc, and vitamin D3 have been touted as positive preventative care and virus treatment. The supplement industry is highly unregulated, and of course, product quality varies. Do your research, and talk to your family’s trusted medical professional before purchasing and taking any supplements.

Purchase pain relievers and fever reducers.

When the pandemic began, store shelves quickly became bare of these medications. It’s smart to stock up now, before sick season, on the medications that best help your family. Make sure to check with your medical professional to see which medicines and doses are appropriate for the illness your family member has.

Buy sick day supplies as you find them.

Purchase sanitizing supplies, gloves, facial tissues, and disposable plates, cups, and utensils when you can find them. These have continued to be in high demand and can be challenging to find. If a loved one is ill, you will be thankful you have them on-hand, especially if someone has to quarantine at home for the recommended fourteen day period.

Take healthy actions now.

All illness isn’t preventable, but Harvard Medicine suggests ways we can keep our bodies healthy and strong. They suggest not smoking, exercising, eating lots of fruits and veggies, drinking alcohol in moderation, getting adequate sleep, and trying our best to minimize stress. Families should practice proper hand-washing practices, incorporate a variety of produce into their daily diets, and prioritize exercise and sleep together. Of course, follow COVID-19 precautions. The Mayo Clinic reminds us to stay away from crowds, wear a mask, keep our hands off our faces, and of course, stay home when ill.

Please don’t try to self-diagnose and self-treat. Your medical professional is the best go-to person to help your family navigate sick season. However, being prepared with a sick day box can certainly minimize running errands when someone in your family is ill. Likewise, taking a proactive approach can reduce stress. Instead, you can focus on hydration, rest, and restoration.

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