You expect to hear this from your kids in the summer, during the tail end of winter vacation, or when visiting friends or relatives who don't have children their age. But you'll also hear it in these coming weeks, as the cold and flu season continues. If you've got kids, especially ones that go to school, you're probably going to be housebound for at least some of this time.
While your sick child may spend some of his or her days throwing up, feverish, in pain, and uncomfortable during the worst part of the sickness, once recovery kicks in, things will Insha Allah (God willing) improve. That means you'll have a kid who's still too ill to be up and about, but feeling well enough to be bored. Here are some ways to help pass the time and preserve your sanity.
1. Read or tell Islamic stories
This is a great time to cuddle up and tell stories. If you're usually too busy before the children's bedtime to tell stories, use this opportunity while your child is spending more time in bed to share gems of Islamic history, or even your own family's history.
If you doubt your abilities as a storyteller, you can always share stories on a CD.
2. Watch Islamic DVDs
If your daughter's shied away from watching Islamic DVDs in the past, she's probably going to be more enthusiastic at a time when any type of entertainment or distraction will be welcome to relieve her boredom.
Introduce her to classics like the Adam's World videos.
If she's a teenager, you can encourage her to watch thought-provoking documentaries like Being Young and Muslim in America, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, and Peer Pressure and Peer Power.
If you've got time, watch the videos or DVDs with her. Even if you don't, encourage her to discuss the material with you if she's feeling up to it.
3. Write a letter to Allah
Encourage your child to write a letter to Allah. It could be about being sick, or it could be about any other issue of concern. This will not only help his or her writing skills, but more importantly, it will encourage your child to communicate with Allah on a personal level. The letter could be in the form of Duas (supplications) your child can read out loud to Allah after Salat (the five daily prayers).
4. Encourage him or her to make Dua
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: When you visit a person who is sick, tell him to make supplication (Dua) for you, for his supplication is like that of the angels' (Ibn Majah).
Encourage your son or daughter to make lots of Dua (supplication) while he or she is sick. Encourage them to pray not only for their own health, but also for family and friends, whether it's for a sibling to do well on an exam or for a friend to recover from the flu. This will teach your child to rely on Allah and to ask Him for all things, big and small.
5. Do some Islamic arts and crafts
You can encourage your artistic son to paint a picture of some of the major mosques around the world and make a family calendar out of it; your daughter can make a clay model of the Kaba; your son could draw and color Arabic alphabets to be pasted on your fridge; your daughter could make her own postcards to send to friends while she's sick.
Brainstorm with your kids to get their great ideas for arts and crafts and keep them in a notebook so they can be used and reused.
6. Start preparing Eid cards
Eid-ul-Adha almost here, so your son or daughter can make his or her own Eid cards to give to relatives and friends. Encourage them to not only come up with creative designs, but also, original Eid greetings to put in the card.
7. Write up thank you cards for Eid gifts
If your son received gifts from family and friends during Eid, spend an afternoon writing up thank you cards to those who gave him the gifts. Emphasize the need to add a personal touch to each card by thanking the person for the specific gift they gave him and why he appreciated it.
8. Count blessings
When we're sick, we tend to look at the world through dim glasses, forgetting the good things in our lives. Help your daughter get out of this mode by reminding her to count her blessings. To add some fun to this, help her make a paper chain of blessings. On each loop of the chain, write down the blessing, like 'eyes', 'nose', 'minivan', the name of each friend, etc. Hang up the chain over her bed once its done.
9. Do puzzles
This can be of the crossword variety http://www.soundvision.com/Shop/pview.asp?Item=420-068 ?or jigsaw puzzles. This activity is good if your child likes to play on his or her own.
10. Visit a virtual exhibit
You don't have to go in person to a museum to enjoy a great exhibit. There are some wonderful online ones you can find by doing a quick search. For instance, the Spirit of Islam exhibit shares the beauty of Islam through calligraphy; the Franklin Institute's features various exhibits on science; the Smithsonian's National Museum of America History has a number of online exhibits to choose from http://americanhistory.si.edu/ve/index.htm
11. Play board games
If your son is in a more interactive mood, a board game is just the thing to relieve boredom and spend some time with you. You can dig out Monopoly, Clue, or Candyland, but you can also expand his Islamic repertoire by playing games like Race to the Kaba (LINK), which teaches children the 99 Names of Allah.
12. When your child gets better, remind him or her to thank Allah
Remind your son or daughter that Allah is the One who cured them and to thank Allah with Dua and doing more good deeds.