Well, it’s getting to be that time of year. The holidays are right around the corner, there’s so much to do! But it’s also cold and flu season. In our house, when someone gets sick, everything shuts down. Once the first kid goes down, there are 4 more waiting in line to get it. Even with the best prevention measures in place, chances are, that bug is going to make the rounds. We just live too close to each other to prevent it in most cases.
We have quite a nasty bug going around our house at the moment. Severe headaches, sore throats, high fevers…the works. It seems congestion and cough follow the sore throat after a couple days. Just to make things interesting, it seems to disappear entirely from about 2-5 pm every day. But, boy, does it come back with a vengeance at 5:30!!! Bear came down with it Saturday evening/Sunday morning (sometime overnight…I didn’t look at the clock), and we’ve been playing this game ever since. Now, everyone else under the age of 35 has it, with the possible exception of Baby. She had a fever Sunday evening, but as of yet, no other symptoms. I’m unclear as to whether that was from teething or (crossing my fingers) she’s getting some passive immunity from nursing and has come through relatively unscathed.
Anyway, all this sickness started me thinking, “What are some of my best tips for surviving the inevitable viruses that pop up so often in childhood?”
Mommy Survival Mode
Right from the first alarming “beep” of the thermometer, my mindset has to change. All of my current plans and items on my to-do list have to go on the back burner. I have entered “Mommy Survival Mode”. It’s a defensive place in my mind, I think, fueled mostly by adrenaline and Dr. Pepper. I will lose my mind if I start thinking about all the things that aren’t getting done or the sleep I’m not allowed to have. At the end of the week, the house will be a bigger wreck than it already was, I’ll be 2 weeks behind on laundry, and my face will not have felt the outside air in seven whole days. I don’t sleep more than 2 hours at a time for the entirety of the ordeal. But, it’s all worth it to make sure my fever-ridden children are as comfortable and safe as possible.
Fever is actually a good thing. It’s one of the ways our bodies fight off infections. But, we all know that too much of a good thing can be dangerous! And so it is with fevers. It’s good to let our bodies turn up the heat just a little to make us inhospitable for those germs…but, as a mother, I have to make sure my kids’ immune systems don’t get carried away when they turn up the sauna.
One of our little ones is rather infamous for her ability to spike a 104 degree fever within a period of about 5 minutes. It’s an impressive, terrifying thing to witness…especially when she’s already had as much acetaminophen and ibuprofen as she’s allowed for the next 2 hours. We have had to resort to cold baths upon more than one occasion to cool her off. She is the reason I cannot sleep when the children are sick. It’s my job to check on them every couple hours to make sure no one’s immune system is cooking them.
So, what are the tools I can’t live without during my stay in Mommy Survival Mode?
Find something your kids will drink. This is so important. When you’re running a fever, your body loses a lot of water and electrolytes…even more if there’s also a stomach bug in the mix. Little bodies need to stay hydrated. Plus, good hydration helps to keep a fever under control. Buying enough Gatorade or Powerade, or especially Pedialyte to keep 5 kids hydrated while ill is rather cost prohibitive for our family. So, we make up a little electrolyte drink ourselves with Kool-aid (made with only 3/4 the recommended sugar), water, and 1 teaspoon of salt per quart. Now, if you want to avoid all the artificial dyes, there are a plethora of homemade sports drinks options you can find on a simple search. Find one your kids like. They’re all pretty easy to make, and so much cheaper than the commercially available alternatives!
Different colored string
All of our cups look the same. Most of the time, that’s no big deal. But, when something starts going around, cups start leaving the kitchen and going on to various end tables in the living room. Pretty soon, I have no idea which cup belongs to which kid. Since we have a bug going around, you can see why I might be rather concerned with making sure the right cup stays with the right person! I could put a piece of tape and a name on each cup, but then there’s condensation, and the tape falls off. I have several different colors of string that I use to make products available in my Etsy shop. I assign a color to each child, then cut a section of string and tie it to the handle of each child’s cup. Now, I know which cup goes with which kid. It saves me from having to add extra dishes to my list of Mommy-I-needs.
Books and Movies
I spend a lot of time sitting on the couch reading stories when the kids are sick. It’s always nice to have a few new ones available from the library. But, of course, I’m bound to read the family favorites several times a day, too. This can also be a great time to introduce your children to some truly great classics, like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, or Treasure Island. Of course, eventually, my voice is going to give out. That’s a great time to have some favorite movies on hand.
When your kids have fevers, sometimes they just don’t want to eat very badly…even if you’re not dealing with a stomach bug. Find some special things that are easy on the stomach to offer your kids. Applesauce and bananas are great options. Bananas are high in potassium, which can be lost due to dehydration during a fever. Also, pancakes and biscuits are usually big hits in our house. Last night, it was popcorn and spaghetti (with no sauce). It was quite a bland dinner for my husband and I, but the kids ate something…and that was a win. Nutritionally speaking, keep in mind that bending the usual rules when the kids are sick is ok. A few days of carb loading isn’t going to do any lasting damage. They need a few extra carbs to give them energy to fight the illness, anyway!
An Extra Dose of Cuddles
This morning, I just sat on the couch and hugged my little Rhino for nearly an hour. He was burning up, and I was sweating under all that extra heat, but it didn’t matter. He needed me. Most of the time, he’s a little bundle of energy, and has a hard time sitting still for longer than 30 seconds at a time. But, when he’s sick, he still wants to just sit in my lap and cuddle with me. For a little while at least, Mommy can still make everything better.
Where would a list of Mom’s sick day arsenal be without a mention of fever reducers? Good ole acetaminophen and ibuprofen can still work wonders for a sick child. Sometimes, I have a little giggle at the transformation that occurs in a sick child half an hour after a dose of medicine. This morning, Rhino got up, ready for his next dose of medicine. I took his temperature, and it was an alarming 103.3, and he still had to wait another 30 minutes until he could have his next dose (remember, I had been up throughout the night, giving medicine or cool compresses as needed). We made it through that half hour (and a little more), cuddling on the couch, with a wet washcloth on his head from time to time. I gave him the next dose of medicine. I settled him as comfortably as I could, and went to take a shower. My husband hadn’t yet left for work…it was my last chance! I finished, and said goodbye to my husband for the day. Pretty soon, Baby woke up and needed to eat. By the time I got done feeding her, and came out of my room, Rhino had on a backpack and was playing some sort of game. When I came out, he proudly announced, “Mommy, I not sick anymore!” and gave me a huge grin. I knew it was only temporary, and before lunch, sure enough, he was once again languishing on the couch. But, these few moments give me hope. Hope that this won’t last forever.
By next week, my kids will back to their usual antics, and this will all be merely an unpleasant memory. We’ll be trying to get back to normal, and playing catch-up on all the things we didn’t get done this week. We will have survived another ordeal.
Mommy Survival Mode, deactivated.