Looking after multiples when sick yourself

Looking after twins when sick

Having multiples means you are already juggling and multi tasking at a pro level.  But looking after multiples when sick yourself adds a whole other level of difficulty.

Read our blog on 5 ways of minimising the spread of germs between multiples HERE.

Please note:  This article is written from a practical parenting point of view of looking after multiples when sick yourself.  Not from a medical point of view. Please contact your local GP or government organisation for medical advice.

Have a conversation and make a plan

Firstly, it is really important you have this conversation with your partner / friends / family BEFORE you get sick. 

You need a back up plan for how you will cope if one of you gets sick, if both of you get sick, if your children get sick, if all of you get sick.  Single parents, it is important you have several plans in place as well, in case your backup caregivers also get sick.

parenting twins when ill

Explain what’s happening to your children

Secondly, depending on the ages of your children, it is important to sit them down and have an honest conversation with them about how things will work for the next while.  

Using age appropriate language explain to them what is going on, and what they can expect.  It is important that they have some understanding, as this will reduce their fear and anxiety about the situation. 

Survival is the key

Thirdly, just do what you need to do to survive. 

If it means you all eat dinner in front of the TV for every meal, then so be it.  I-pad time may go out the window, but that’s OK! Scrambled eggs on toast is 100% fine for breakfast lunch AND dinner if needed.  So are frozen meals or Uber Eats.  While it’s important to be mindful of cleanliness, don’t worry about the rest of the housework.  Unfortunately, it will still be there when you are better!

Keep all (safe) windows and doors open and encourage your children to play outside as much as possible.

Do you have any pets?

Finally, don’t forget the pets!

If you have a dog that needs walking or is still in the puppy stage and thus a lot of work, then I suggest finding someone else to look after the dog for you while people are sick.  The more responsibilities that you can temporarily remove, the easier your recovery will be.   

sick twin mother

Looking after multiples when sick yourself. 

So, what happens if you are sick?  Twinfo has some practical suggestions to help you get through this difficult time.

If it is the breastfeeding mother that is sick, then ensure you speak to a medical professional or the Australian Breastfeeding Association Luckily in most cases it is fine to continue to breastfeed, but that will obviously depend on the type of illness that the mother has.  If the breastfeeding mother is too sick to breastfeed then they could consider expressing regularly and the well parent can bottle feed the babies.  A good quality pump is recommended to reduce the time spent expressing.  Spectra is the favourite pump of Parents of Multiples, and depending on where you live they have overnight delivery.  You can get a 10% discount on Spectra pumps using the affiliate code spectra-friend-10

Order Spectra HERE.

sick mother of triplets

If one adult is sick, and not the other.

As much as it is difficult, the more the sick person can isolate from the rest of the family the better.   This may mean that the sick parent may move into another room, or the well parent may move into another room for a short time.  Consider wearing masks and delivering meals on a tray to outside the door.

Obviously, the well parent will need to take on the full responsibilities and care for the rest of the family.  Hopefully with strict hygiene in place, and as much distancing as possible the well parent can avoid getting sick too. 

Now is the time to outsource what you can to make your life easier.  Get a gardener in for a one off mow and lawn tidy up.  Or invest in a meal delivery service such as Hello Fresh.  Do a click and collect order at your local supermarket and ask someone else to collect it for you. Pay for a dog walking service or someone to come and clean the pool. 

Try to keep the children outside in the garden as much as possible.  The fresh air will help minimise the germ transmission (bear in mind you as the well adult are likely to also get sick) plus it will wear them out so they will hopefully go to sleep easily!  Think of games like obstacle courses or organise a treasure hunt of things in the garden.  “Paint the fence” with water, draw with chalk on the path.  Have a picnic at lunchtime.

If both adults are sick

Looking after multiples when sick yourself is hard.  While being sick is never ideal, hopefully one of you will be a few days ahead of the other in the illness, so the least sick person can hopefully still do the majority of the care.  However, if you are both sick at the same time then you will just need to tag team where possible.

Take it in turns, one can parent from the couch, while the other has a proper sleep in the bedroom.  Then switch over. 

You do need to try to minimise your contact with your children where possible, to try to avoid passing your illness on to them.  Its hard not to hug and kiss them, but you really need to be mindful of transmission.  Wash your hands frequently before you change nappies, wear a mask if needed and while its nigh on impossible, try to avoid having them clamber all over you.  Keep a bottle of hand sanitiser in every room so its easily seen and accessible.

Organise someone to drop groceries and meals to the door so you don’t need to cook.  Or order in from a delivery service.

Put a basket full of snacks on the counter, & fruit in the fridge – then tell the kids they are allowed unlimited fruit & 3 things from the basket all day (or whatever your rule is).

Be kind to yourself, and each other.  Rest as much as you can and don’t worry too much about the house work!   It is important to remember that you are BOTH feeling sick.  Try not to get into arguments or blame each other for not doing their fair share. 

parenting triplets when ill

Single parents who are sick

Raising multiples on your own is a tough gig at the best of times.  But when you, as the sole care giver gets sick, it can be even harder.  Especially if it is a contagious illness, and you can’t just call in Grandma or your brother to help out.

Depending on the severity of your illness, you may need to consider finding alternative arrangements for your children while you are sick.  Adult relatives, such as aunts or uncles or close family friends may be able to step up to help out for a while.   It is really important that you have had this conversation with all potential back up care givers prior to when/if you need to call on their services.

Outsourcing will be your friend during this time.  See above for some tips, but in reality, you may need to outsource as much as you can while you recover.  Don’t waste what little energy you have preparing meals. Order a vegetable laden healthy stir fry from Uber Eats.

If your babies are young, pop a mattress on the floor so you can lay down with them.  Or if they are on the move, then pop them in a playpen in case you fall asleep. 

If they are older pop a mattress outside under a tree so you can supervise as they play in the back garden.  The open air will hopefully minimise their chances of catching whatever it is that you have.  Get family and friends to call them via video call and read books to them.

And don’t feel at all guilty if you “parent from the couch”.  You need to rest as much as you can. Get them to build a pillow fort nearby and then pop on a movie.  Hopefully you can use that time to grab a nap.

If you are at the stage where you need to be hospitalised, and have no one to care for your children, ask to speak to the social worker at the hospital immediately.

looking after multiples when sick

Looking after multiples when sick

Obviously the key is to try not to get sick in the first place!  Did you know that looking after newborn twins takes up to 19 hours a day!

Read the article HERE.

While it seems impossible, it is important that you look after yourself as much as you can.  Eat regularly, try to eat healthy foods rather than grabbing a sugary snack.  Get some exercise and fresh air.  And where possible get a good nights sleep.  I know all of this is hard, especially when you have twins, triplets or more, but you simply can’t pour from an empty cup.


Twinfo is Australia’s largest, most supportive, online community for parents of twins and triplets. Twinfo offers advice, products and services that make raising your babies easier, freeing you up to enjoy all the precious moments.

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