15 things to do with a child in a cast
Last year, my incredibly active 6-year-old daughter managed to fall off the monkey bars and break her wrist in 3 places the Monday after school let out for summer break. The break was so severe that they had to put her under anesthesia and manually push one of the bones back in place (this is called “reduction” in medical terms.) When they were finished, they basically said she couldn’t move for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Even the slightest jarring of the bone would send it back out of place and she’d need surgery and pins.
So what do you do in the summer with a kindergartner with ADHD in a cast? Despite her physical condition, she wasn’t having any part of living in a bubble. And since I worked from home, her cast wasn’t really conducive to my work schedule either. Daycare was out of the question for two reasons:
1 – Daycare is where she broke her wrist in the first place. They weren’t really dying to have her back.
2 – She’d have to sit around and watch other kids play for most of the day, and that would just be torture.
There was nothing else to do but really embrace what will forever be known as “Bummer Summer”. We found low cost and free things to do for the rest of summer vacation. I’m not going to say it was easy – 4 weeks of finding things to do with a child in a cast turned to 6, then 8, then 10. She had X-rays done every two weeks to check the healing process. The doctor was very hesitant to remove the cast because the bones were still quite soft. After 10 weeks, we graduated to a wrist brace for the next 4, and by then she was already back in school.
Here are some low cost (and mostly free) things to do with a child in a cast.
- Watch every single movie on Netflix. Okay, not every single movie – but all the Disney ones, including the oldies like Cadet Kelly, High School Musical, and Cheetah Girls.
- Spend lots of time in the library. There’s air conditioning, and they have story time and craft time.
- Write letters. We wrote to everyone we had an address for. It kept her skills sharp – even though the cast made the handwriting pretty rough.
- Paint rocks. We found some smooth creek rocks and painted them. Some are still paperweights in our house and some we left all over town.
- Take long walks. How else are you going to drop off all of those rocks?
- Play board games. I’ve played more board games than anyone on Earth at this point.
- Have a yard sale. Well…my mom had a yard sale. I didn’t. But the kiddo was able to help quite a bit.
- Visit friends and family from far away. We spent lots of nights at my mom’s house – at that time, she had a big house and welcomed the company. She played with the kiddo, I got a little bit of work done – it served dual purposes.
- Vacation Bible School. This is something we do every year either way, and the VBS she went to just happens to also be where she went to preschool for 2 years. So they knew her well and I trusted them to keep her from getting too crazy. They had no problem telling her no.
- Go to the movies. We saw a few movies, though that could have gotten expensive if we didn’t limit it.
- Color and paint pictures. We colored and painted every piece of paper in this house I think!
- Baseball games. Hometown baseball games were a fun way to pass the time a few nights over the summer. They also had fireworks some nights.
- Cook together. We stuck a bag on that arm and did lots of cooking together. And lots of eating. She gained 5 lbs. that summer and I gained 10. In hindsight, we probably shouldn’t have done so much eating.
- Read books. We read a lot and were able to finish a few chapter books over the summer.
- Sit in the sun on nice days and drink slushies to keep cool. Mine may or not have contained vodka. It was that kind of summer! (Also, this probably didn’t help the weight gain.)
As we approach the one-year anniversary of this lovely time in our lives, I look back and think about how lucky we are that she is now completely healed. She’s in gymnastics and swimming lessons, and last summer barely crosses her mind. I’m also very lucky that I have the job I do, because I was able to get a lot of work done at midnight, on my phone, in my car, and anywhere else I could find wi-fi.
While finding things to do with a child in a cast certainly was a challenge, Bummer Summer also brought us closer together. The original summer plans had her at daycare 3 days a week and me working. If things had gone as planned we wouldn’t have had as much time together. I really enjoyed the bonding time we had, and for that, I will always be grateful for a broken wrist. I’m slightly sad that she won’t be home 7 days a week this summer, but this year I plan to make the most of the time she’s home.
Have you ever had to find things to do with a child in a cast? I’d love to hear your best ideas!