Room on the Edge

At eight years old, Hadley still loves to cuddle at night. Although her bed is piled high with stuffed animals, she has an affection and story for each one of them. She remembers the details of how they were acquired, their special traits, and their place among her stuffed animal kingdom.

“White Fang is my favorite. She’s a husky. Grandma got her for me when we were in Leavenworth. This is Jadoor, an owl from Santa. He gave her to me because I helped him with a very important job. Jadoor is Hedwig’s little sister.”

Even though she loves her stuffed animals dearly, she’ll shove them aside on her bed as a soft barrier between her and the wall to make more room for me during story and cuddle time. Larry the lion, a huge stuffed lion we inherited from grandma, also rules her queen-sized bed in which he regally sprawls out, acting as yet another buffer between the wall and Hadley. She’s got about four regular pillows, a giant Squishy Mellow, and stuffed Pikachu type pillow. She’s got a spot for those too. With all this on her bed, she still manages to make room for me. As I lay next to her on the edge of her bed she starts to share with me details of her day that were earlier forgotten, but now have seemed to crop up just in time for bedtime.

I notice how her two adult front teeth no longer look too big for her mouth as she grins thinking about her day. Her cheeks and nose are spotted with light freckles. As she begins talking I noticed her lips are pink and slightly chapped giving them a nice rosy color. Her green eyes twinkle while she describes a game they played in her classroom at school. As I brush a stray piece of her brown hair back over her head, she quickly moves her hair back where it was with a slight pause in her story that you’d really have to be paying attention to notice, then she continues on with the details of her day and tells me about recess. 

“First recess I played with Jocelyn. Second recess I was with Rose. Then, at the third recess it was Kendall and Verah.”

I can almost see her planning her play schedule at school with her friends each morning, trying to coordinate quality time throughout the day so each of them gets a chance to spend time with her and feel included.  She wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out. An organized Hadley friend rotation if you will, so everyone gets their time with her. She comes home with notes from her friends that spill praises of kindness and “bff” status. I get the feeling that Hadley is well-liked and other kids want to be around her. Not that this surprises me, she’s got a kind heart and a special way to make you feel included. For example, moving aside her prized stuffies on her bed to make room for you. 

This past fall was the first official soccer season for our family. We managed to get Hadley on a team with two of her friends. Once her new jersey arrived and it donned the number ten, we had high hopes for our girl. My husband tells me typically number ten is the best player on a soccer team. We’ve had our share of soccer practice in the yard with Hadley and her younger brother John, including but not limited to, passing, scoring goals and keep away. 

Hadley is sure-footed and coordinated as she kicks the ball precisely toward me. This must be a trait from my husband, who played soccer growing up. As for myself, coming from zero soccer experience and a real fear of the ball hitting my face, I tended to avoid this sport. But I’d pass the ball with Hadley anyday knowing she can keep it away from my face, for the most part. She gives the ball a swift kick with her left foot (one thing I do share with her is my left-footed favoritism) a smile sprouted on her face as soon as her foot made contact with the ball and shot toward me. A small giggle escapes from her mouth as I try my best to stop it. 

Passing the ball as a family of four was one thing, but going out onto the soccer field with a whole team of 2nd and 3rd grade girls was quite another. I don’t think Hadley expected a throng of girls to follow the ball wherever it went during the game. When the ball came to her, so did several people running behind it, she’d give it a quiet, quick tap away when I knew she had much more in her. She’d give a half-hearted run up and down the field after the ball along with the other girls, but she never made much contact with it.

“I just don’t like crowds.” she explained in the car taking a bite of her post-game granola bar. “I want to be a goalie. There are no crowds near the goalie.” 

Next game, Hadley went right up to her coach and asked to be goalie. Suddenly, she was pinny adorned and gloved at the goal. She was alone, nowhere near a crowd. She seemed to love it. She asked to play goalie many games following. 

If it were me, I’d crack under the sheer pressure of the ball coming my way, but not Hadley. These girls are still learning defense and positions. As mentioned before, they just run back and forth after the ball. It seemed that rarely Hadley would have help as goalie from a defender or other team mate. They almost always weren’t near enough or ready. So Hadley had many times where it was completely up to her to stop the other team from scoring a goal. Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn’t. 

She also enjoyed playing defender, although she didn’t give as much power in her kicks to clear the ball away as one might hope to see. She enjoyed not being in the midst of the chaos or the middle of the pack, she preferred to linger back to help the goalie. 

I wonder if this is why she divides up her time with friends? Maybe all of them at once seem too much like “I don’t like crowds.”  Yet, they all want to be with her. She craves meaningful connection, conversation, laughter and jokes. Sometimes that’s hard to share among a big group, but much easier one-on-one or with a couple of friends. 

She doesn’t mind being on the perimeter or staying back. I don’t mind her being there either, because I know she won’t be alone for long. As far as her soccer skills and confidence,  these are things that will only get better and build with time. She’s up for playing again next year as long as she’s on a team with some friends again. She has settled on defender as her favorite position. 

“I help out the goalie because I know what it feels like to be the goalie and not get help. I’m good at helping.” 


I sneak back into her bedroom to turn off her lamp. Now asleep, she clutches three different kinds of owl stuffies and her blankets. I look closely at her closed eyelids, long lashes hover over the tops of her cheeks. For a second I see a glimpse of her face as a baby before it morphs back into one of a young girl’s. 

“I don’t like crowds.” 

I’m afraid, sweet girl, that you might have a crowd following you wherever you go. It’s a good thing you can schedule, coordinate, and make each person feel included, because as much as you might want to be a goalie alone or watch from the sides, I’m not sure that’s what God has in mind for you. I’m not sure that’s where you’ll shine. It might be. But it just might be that you were meant to be right in the middle of it all, able to make room on the edge for a friend and recall the details about what makes them special.

Blank Black Canvas

I’m staring at my blank TV screen this evening as I write this reflection. The black rectangular wall-hanging sits there increasingly intrusive in my living room with every click of my keys, but I don’t mind. It has been three weeks since no TV and things are going well! I’ve been able to use this time in the evenings in a variety of ways. There have been some observations of my own behavior during these first three weeks of 2022, in which I’ll share now. 

Some nights, I feel super productive. Examples of productive activities have included but aren’t limited to: going through my kids’ art and also re-categorizing our books.

Other nights, I am not so productive in the organizing or decluttering realm, but at least I am being unproductive while not watching TV. 

I downloaded an Audiobook app and have yet to start listening to any books. What do I do while I listen?

My husband and I have had some great discussions in the evenings. We’ve even traded back rubs and listened to a podcast for a couple nights in a row. 

My daughter created a homework packet for me to complete, which I am very much looking forward to. 

News Flash!!!! Avoidance of hard tasks still exists even without TV. Ugh, I was really hoping this wasn’t the case.  I have progress letters for work due in a little over a week that I have yet to start and I’ve only worked on my personal writing a couple nights this month. I’m finding it’s easy to replace one bad habit with another. 

For example, I find myself scrolling my phone and checking Instagram a lot more often. There have been some nights where I have just spent time on my phone instead of doing anything. But, at least I’m not watching TV, right?

Even in spite of avoidance tactics getting the best of me many nights, I have been Inspired by books I’ve been reading and podcasts I’ve listened to. I’ve listened to some writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs on podcasts who all started out in their journey by doing something consistently.  For many, it was writing. 

Ruth Chou Simons shared on her new podcast that before establishing GraceLaced, she had started out writing in her blog every single night. She said she missed shows like, The Office and Parenthood completely because she was writing. This of course reminded me of the TV shows I might be missing, but this also reminded me of what a gift this time in the evening is to write or create content. Being consistent with writing can lead to more opportunities for creative growth and work.  

These first several weeks are all about feeling out this evening time. I have created this space in my life by taking out TV, which is wonderful! However, I need to be careful. I need to be careful to not let new bad habits replace the old. I need to be careful to not let so-called productive tasks, such as organizing my spice cabinet, turn out to be another avoidance “activity,” keeping me from difficult, creative work. 

I am going to continue looking for what inspires, ignites, and fills me with joy in these forgotten evening hours. Some nights probably will be wasted. Some nights that I might think were a waste, could turn out to be a stepping stone for something greater. 

My husband mentioned to me the other night with the sweetest of intentions, “You can watch TV, you know. You don’t have to do this.” This was a night where I didn’t quite know what to do with myself and was in bed scrolling absentmindedly on my phone. I’m pretty sure I kept interrupting his reading with small talk and sighs of bored discontent. 

“I want to.” I replied assuredly. “I really do.”  I know there’s more. More out there waiting to fill this gift of space and time. I’m trying to figure it out. I’m working on it. 

In the meantime, the TV screen stays off. This blank black canvas hanging on my wall craves to be filled or covered with something meaningful. This new, empty space craves to be used with purpose. 

The question is, what?

2022: The Year of No TV?

I settled on the couch with my favorite blanket and fresh cup of tea, exhaling a sigh of relief knowing the kids were in bed (for the moment at least). After searching for a good minute, I found the remote in it’s failed attempt to hide behind the back cushion. I clicked on the TV and stretched my legs, resting my feet up on the ottoman. 

“Where do I start?” I thought to myself. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, regular TV (Ha! Yeah right). There were so many choices, almost too many. I settled upon Netflix. Scroll down, down, down. Scroll across, across, across. Seen it, nope, seen it, nope, kid show, kid show, nope, seen it…and on it went. 

“What if we watch no TV in 2022?”

“Huh?!” I stopped my incessant scrolling, and looked bewildered at my husband who was laying with his back up against the corner of our L-shaped couch. “No TV?” I restated bleakly. “You mean like limit the number of days a week or maybe only watch it when something really good is on?”

“No. No TV, period. For the whole year.”

As my mind processed the meaning of this, I quickly jumped to putting a stop to the madness by any means necessary. “What about movies? Sports? Seahawks? Sounders? You know you love the Sounders!” I took a sip of my tea triumphantly. I knew I had him there.

“I’ll listen to them on the radio.” He continued on, “think about how much time we waste every single night. We hardly ever find anything good. I feel dumber just sitting here.” He gestured his hands out and gave a shrug, his shoulders slouching as a representation of how he felt. 

“I’ll think about it.” I responded casually, lifting my blanket higher to cover my shoulders and reconvened the mindless scrolling for something to watch. 

My husband and I love New Year’s goals. We sit down at the end of each year and write a list of goals and what we want to accomplish for the next. “Read 10 books, run 400 miles, eat leftovers instead of throwing them out…” to name a few. Most of them don’t happen or fully come to fruition. But some do. Sometimes they alter throughout the year as our perspective or situation changes. We have a lot of conversations about these goals and why we want to do them. 

Admittedly at first, I was not fully on board with this no TV in 2022 proposal,  but I was very intrigued by the suggestion. I liked the idea of us having a goal together. 

The more I’ve thought about this, no TV goal, the more exhilarated I’ve become. This is a goal in itself that will lead to more likely success of other goals.

I guess it really just comes down to the fact that at the end of the day, most of the time, both Jordan and I feel we have so much more to give. At thirty-seven years old, we don’t feel like calling it in, sitting like a stump in front of the television every night. Most of the time, we can’t find anything to watch anyway, and we end up watching reruns of our favorite shows. 

It used to be that we were so exhausted by the end of the day, it was all we could do to just sit there. It was a different time, the kids were younger, work was harder. But now, honestly most nights I feel I could do more. My mind is still going and my body still has a little steam, but it sometimes feels wasted on the couch. I try to multitask in front of the TV but then I just suck at both things and am not really present in either one.

 If there are nights when we are super exhausted and I know there is and will be, then it’s probably a good night to just go to bed instead of checking out in front of the TV anyway.  

Something you might be wondering, will our kids also have no TV in 2022? The answer is, no. We will not make them participate in this goal with us. We try to limit their TV anyway and we don’t feel it’s right to make them do a goal with us when it’s us who really want to change. This seems like one of those times where leading by example might be more effective than making them give up something because we said so. We will still enjoy our family movie night on Fridays together too! 

Every night though, our kids see us watching TV and I think they’ve grown up thinking that this is what adults do. I really want them to see that this doesn’t have to be the case. There are better ways to spend time in the evenings. If they see us reading, writing, working in the yard (as the summer months lend us more evening light) taking a walk, doing a puzzle, etc., they will realize there is more to life than watching TV each night. I hope they see as human beings, we were created for more. We are meant for more. 

It’s not about what we need to add to our plates this year. It’s about cutting out what is not important. Cutting out what is holding us back from becoming the best version of ourselves. One of my favorite quotes from this past year has been by James Clear, “In many cases, improvement is not about doing more things right, but about doing less things wrong. Don’t look for things to add. Look for things to eliminate.”

I’m so proud of my husband. He has gone a full year without a single drink of alcohol. He did not slip once in 2021.  He did not do it because he had a problem with alcohol, but he did it for many reasons. He wanted to be healthier, more present, more aware, and more engaged. He eliminated something that was a hindrance in his ability to improve and be the best version of himself. 

We are eliminating TV in 2022. We are taking advantage of the time we’ve been given and using it to create something beautiful and find better versions of ourselves. 

I’ll still have my softest blanket and cup of tea with me at the end of the night, but instead of searching for that remote, I’ll have spent my time reading something or learning something. I’ll have moved or done something, I’ll have created something. I’ll have discovered something else that was hiding behind the cushion begging to be found. 

Happy New Year!!!~May you find what lights you up and eliminate what tries to snuff you out.~ 

When Pinecones are Life

Dear John,

You turned five this past week. You are super pumped to be able to hold up one hand when asked how old you are. We measured your height today and you’ve had a little growth spurt the past six months. Your body is starting to catch up with your head… a little. 

A couple of weeks ago we went hiking in the Shelton View Forest with your buddy Luke and his mom Nicole. Nicole is my longest known and dearest friend. I’ve told you and Hadley the story of how Nicole and I met in kindergarten at Shelton View Elementary. 

After our exploration around the woods, and everyone’s imminent tumble or slip as we made our way down the ravine trail, we decided to check out the playground at Shelton View Elementary right next to the forest. 

You played a little at one of the play areas on the school’s campus and then we decided to walk around and find another one. Along the way, you slipped me a pinecone you had found. In a secret whisper you said to me, “this one is special because it’s green.” I wrapped my fingers around it and held it in my hand as we made our way to the other play area. 

As you, Luke, and Hadley played on the second playground, Nicole and I sat on the bench talking about what we remember from kindergarten. Was this the same playground? Did we run around in the wooded area over there? Was that our classroom just situated in the front corner with the view of the playground?

Coincidentally, I was your age when I started kindergarten at this very school where you were now playing. Also an August baby, I had just turned five. Thirty-ish years ago, I ran around that same playground and I was the same age you were now.  Your dad and I have decided to wait another year for you to start kindergarten for a myriad of reasons, which I can explain another time. 

As I flipped the pinecone round and round in my hand, I thought about how I am watching you play at an age that I once was. An age that I can actually remember some things from. I turned the green pinecone over and over in my palm more quickly as if replicating the rapid succession in which the years seem to have flown by since that time. Then I placed it on the bench in an attempt to make time stand still as I watched you play, even if for just a minute

On our trek back toward our car I realized that I had forgotten the green pinecone back on the bench.  

“Shoot, I forgot his pinecone on the bench,” I whispered to Nicole. “Hopefully, he won’t remember.”

Seconds later you pipe up, “Mom, where’s the green pinecone I gave you?” 

“I’m so sorry buddy. I left it on the bench. Let’s find you another one here.” Dozens of pinecones lay at our feet as we passed under a huge pine tree. 

“No!!!!! That one was special for you. It was green!!” you protested.  There were plenty of pinecones to go around under the tree where we stood. Lots of different shapes and sizes. But all brown. None of them are green like the one you had found before. 

Hadley, being the best big sister there is, immediately starts searching for the best pinecone. She found a huge one for you! You smiled and laughed at the size. All is forgiven regarding the green pinecone once the big one was in your hands. One problem though, Luke liked the giant pinecone too. Unfortunately, that is the only big one we see. 

Suddenly, tears ensue as he wants the big pinecone. Hadley fiercely reiterates the fact that she found it for you. You end up getting to keep your huge pinecone, but Luke is crushed. Meanwhile, the green pinecone sits lonely on the bench and I feel terrible for the pinecone grief I’ve created. 

I put the huge pinecone in the back of the car, since it likely has bugs hidden inside. Our goodbye is short and quick as we were never able to find a huge pinecone for Luke. He is still crying and pining away for a huge pinecone as Nicole tries to convince him that the pinecones belong in the forest. Later, we found out it took Luke quite a while to forget about the pinecone. 

Hours later, back at home I realize that the huge pinecone is still in the back of the car far from it’s forest home, forgotten by all except me (and maybe still Luke). I go out to retrieve it with visions of bugs escaping and lodging between the seats of our car or throwing themselves a beach party in the bits of sand left behind from our previous beach adventures. I get it and leave it on our porch. 

Weeks later and brittled by the sun, it is still there, untouched. Yet somehow, in that moment at the school playground, that pinecone was absolutely everything. I wonder if the green pinecone is still on the bench?

We’ve enjoyed our family bike rides this summer. You zip around pedaling on your two-wheeled bike like it’s not a big deal. You’ve acquired killer scrapes and scabs to prove you can handle anything the bike path throws your way. You are so tough and fast. You are amazing on your bike and you love it. We are getting you a new bike for your birthday as you already seem to be outgrowing this one. 

One night, only a few days after our Shelton View Forest pinecone ordeal, we were speeding along the sidewalk, our family of four with eight wheels, when suddenly you spot a pinecone on the sidewalk. Instantly, your love of pinecones was revived. Almost just as quickly as it was spotted, I heard and felt the crushing wood scales of the pinecone under my front tire. “Oh no!” I realized before it was too late. Just like that, your pinecone dreams were crushed and left there on the sidewalk. 

“Noooooo!” you screamed to a halt on your bike. “That was my pinecone! You ran over it!” as you flung your head and upper body over the front of your bike in complete despair like a sack of flour. 

Unlike the playground, there weren’t tons of pine cones around. We were on a sidewalk near a busy road.  Suddenly, one is spotted across the street. Your dad, makes note that the street is currently clear of cars and quickly pedals over to retrieve the loner pinecone. “Oh great,”  I think. “Getting hit by a car is totally worth this and again… it’s all my fault.” Instead of leaving behind the precious pinecone, this time like all your hopes and dreams, I had crushed it.

The new pinecone was retrieved and brought over to you. Immediately you are relieved and composed enough to be able to ride again. Of course, you don’t have a free hand, pocket or bike basket to put the precious pinecone in so your dad hands it to me. Again, I am left with a pinecone. In my pocket it goes. 

I can’t even tell you what happened to that pinecone. I think it made it home but it was totally forgotten about the minute your helmet was off your still-larger-than-average head. But it doesn’t matter. In those moments, as an almost five-year-old, those pinecones are life. 

John, you are a like a green pinecone. Special and uniquely made beyond comparison. There may be others that come along: big ones, cute little ones, ones filled with bugs, but none quite like you. I left the green pinecone there on the bench on the playground where my world as a five-year-old expanded and bloomed as I know yours will too. I pray you realize your importance and place in this world. I know things will get tougher than a lost or crushed pinecone. I will be here for you.

A few days ago, we came across some mini pinecones on our vacation. You picked up four and gifted one to each of us. It is then that I realized, I don’t need to keep the pinecones. There are endless amounts of them. They are like moments with you, sweet and gifted to me from the Father above. They pass quickly by and yet, there are so many more to come. So many more to find and treasure. Happy Birthday, John!

I Am There

I was surprised at how well my husband and I handled our daughter’s first couple vomiting experiences. It was as if we each assumed our roles without needing to talk it through or practice the scenario. As if there is ever time in that type of situation, because you are almost never ready.

It is an unmistakable sound, the retching cough and gag, the acidic liquid chunks hitting the bottom of the bowl. The smell is unmistakable too. A rancid, partially broken down blended mix of the past day’s food and stomach acids. The putrid smelling liquid warms your hands though the bowl as you clutch it shakily. 

Vomit. An expected human bodily function to eliminate contaminated particles from our body. 

Expected, yet never ready, especially with young kids. Vomit isn’t the only thing that has come up without warning as my husband and I raise our kids. With the vomit at least we assumed our roles and we knew it would pass. After that first spew, we had somewhat of an idea of what would follow. But as we are neck deep in the throes of parenting young kids, sometimes we don’t have an idea of what is coming and we don’t really know what to expect next. 

It is an unmistakable feeling, wondering if you’ve handled a situation with your child correctly. Did I discipline correctly? Am I teaching them the way that’s best for them? The guilt is unmistakable too. I got too angry and yelled. My mouth spewed out commands and my face reddened. I didn’t follow through with what I said I would. My shoulders sink. Unsteadily, I sit down and ponder the best way to raise my children. 

>>>

There are some great stories about my father-in-law that my husband has shared with me on multiple occasions. One story that my husband recalls is when he threw up over the side of his bunk bed when he was around eight (he was on the top bunk of course) and my father-in-law caught the vomit in his hands. That was just one of many vomit-catching moments of my father-in-law’s parenting life. Whenever one of his kids would vomit unexpectedly, he’d make a little cup with his hands together catching it all in one seemingly swift motion

I’ve always thought, “That’s it.” When I am a parent and I catch my kid’s vomit in my hands, I’ve arrived. I’ve become wise. I’ve reached the peak of all-knowing parental wisdom. 

>>>

“Say bye to Grandma and Grandpa! Say goodbye to Nana and Papa!” I told Hadley as we quickly made our way off the ferry deck and down the stairs to our car.

 “Noooo!!” Hadley yelled, red-faced and cheeks wet with tears. The ferry ride back to Edmonds was short and as soon as the announcement was made, people quickly made their way back to the car deck below. Hadley had just spent the entire weekend with our extended family on Whidbey Island and she did not know the goodbye would be so quick. 

I buckled her in the car seat and decided to sit in the back with her to calm her down. She continued to scream and cry, just not quite ready for goodbye. Then suddenly, it came. I held out my hands cupping them together for the regurgitated Chex mix vomit. 

Catch. Shake. Wipe. 

Well, it’s safe to say, I’ve caught vomit in my hands at least a few times now and I’m here to tell you, I have not arrived. I am not the wise sagely mother I thought I would be. Instinctual perhaps, yes. One of my kids retches and I shoot out my hands and form a cup in front of their face and I remember my father-in-law with the story of his magical vomit-catching father hands. I instinctively hold out my hands. But this is not because I am wise, it’s because this is an impulse. Parenting seems to be more acting on impulse than wisdom lately. 

I came out of my daughter’s room after saying goodnight to find my husband sitting in the dark at the kitchen counter. 

“What are you doing?” I asked scrunching my brow. 

“Just thinking.” He paused and then continued, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know if I’m doing any of this right. I think I came down too hard on her tonight.”

“I don’t know either.” I shrugged. I sat there next to him while my tea water boiled. We have caught the vomit with our hands and we still don’t know. 

The first few months after Hadley started kindergarten was admittedly a little rough at home. She’s been amazing at school and has no behavioral issues. She’s learning, forming friendships, and loves school. For that, we are grateful. She seems to be leveling out a little now that we are halfway through the year, but we’ve had our share of evening tantrums, which have included but are not limited to yelling, hitting, throwing, stomping, slamming, screaming and 6-year-old emotional logic. My husband calls it, “The Upside Down.” (Thank you, Stranger Things). 

We tell ourselves, “We’ve reached the point of no return, she’s in The Upside Down now and we can’t get her back.” 

We blame exhaustion, we blame her mind and body being on overload. I am glad she can let it out at home and she knows she’s safe and loved no matter what, but dealing with this behavior all too often has its wear. We aren’t ever really sure if we’ve handled the situation correctly, we try to use what we have in the moment, catching it with our hands if we have to. 

>>>

Mom sat with me on the edge of my bed. Her hand rubbed my back and swept back strands of hair as I clutched the tin bowl in my hands. Hot dogs. We had eaten hot dogs for dinner that night. I hadn’t imagined I would see the same hot dog I ate for a second time. 

After throwing up hot dogs, it took me a while to ever eat them again. The smell was terrible. Mom didn’t let on and never even flinched, but I knew it was horrid. 

Sometimes you are ready. You know the vomit is coming and you are prepared for the purging of your child’s stomach. My mom was prepared for what came that night. She had the tin bowl ready to catch my mighty spew.

My father-in-law had no clue what was coming and he caught the vomit with his bare hands. 

Sometimes, we are prepared for what’s coming as parents and sometimes we aren’t. 

I’ve come to the realization that parenting is one part tin bowl- prepared, calm, ready, and one part cupping your hands together- instinctive, resourceful, and brave. We use one or the other sometimes alternating between both.  But whatever we use, we catch that damn vomit. 

However, what about the vomit that comes at night and ends up all over the bedding and rug? What then? No hands, no bowl, no preparedness or resourcefulness, just a disgusting mess to clean up without trying to vomit yourself as you gag from the stench. 

Well, I don’t know. I don’t have my tin bowl. I don’t have my hands ready. I don’t have anything. Except, I am there. I am there to clean up the mess, to draw the bath, change their clothes, stroke their hair, and say “It’s alright.” 

I am there. 

 

How to Stay Sane During Cold and Flu Season

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love how the landscape changes its palette of colors, the crispness that settles in the air, the new routines, and excitement of the unknown as school and other activities begin. There is one thing about fall however, that I one hundred percent despise, and that is the start of the cold and flu season

I hate during fall and winter when my kids are sick. When they have constant runny noses or a cough that lasts for what seems like weeks, I loathe that whatever they end up catching, I will likely end up catching. The sickness season always seems to hit my family pretty hard initially. Last year, we all caught a cold that came with a side of viral eye infections. My son and husband couldn’t even make Thanksgiving dinner at my parents house. 

This year, it was a stomach bug. Within a span of about two weeks, this nasty stomach virus circulated through everyone in our family mid-October. This was shortly followed by a cold virus. A shot of stomach virus quickly followed by a chaser of cold virus was not an easy combination to take. 

My husband and I joke that my daughter is always patient zero. She comes home from school with all sorts of germs and invisible nastiness. No matter how hard I try, I can never keep all the sickness away. 

Over the past couple years as we have survived cold and flu season, I have learned some useful tips that have helped keep me sane. 

Don’t Blame Yourself 

This is a big one. Every year when our first round of sickness hits, I ask myself, “Is it me? Am I doing something wrong?  Why my kids always get sick? Other friends’ kids seem healthy and mine are already battling the invisible germs and viruses.

My mind is a continual feed of questions and self-doubt. “My kids probably don’t eat enough spinach or kale. That has to be it. Maybe we were overly aware of germs and hand washing/sanitizing when they were babies and now we are paying the price? Maybe I didn’t teach my daughter how to wash her hands well enough? Maybe our house is too clean? Maybe it isn’t clean enough-we must have too much dust or maybe…we have mold!?!”

Each year, I go through this cycle of guilt, that it is somehow my fault and I always come to the realization that it is not. Sickness just happens. It always will happen. Are there certain things we can do to help with the amount of sickness? Sure. But do I need to bang my head against the wall, wondering if it was because we didn’t wash our hands well enough after coming home from the park? No. All we can do as parents is try our best to teach good cleanliness habits to our kids and even with all that in place, sickness can still happen. 

So to sum up: don’t blame yourself, sickness just happens. 

Do Have a Basket of Remedies 

This leads me to my next tip. When sickness happens in your household and despite your best efforts, it will, I find it is best to be prepared with the necessary medicines and comforts. 

I have a hard time with daily living when I have a cluttered kitchen counter but when someone or multiple people are sick in the household, it seems not only necessary but convenient to have medicines, teas, rubs, and oils out where we can access them easily. 

Two years ago, I just grabbed an extra basket and started sticking in the essentials as I used them. I ended up with this collection of remedies in a basket on my kitchen counter. Our basket includes items such as Tylenol, chest rub, eucalyptus essential oil, honey lollipops and so on.  I also have some things stocked in there for my husband and I as well such as Nuun tablets and Emergen-C packets. 

Jordan and I tend to feel bad and buy kids gifts each time they are sick (especially if they are really sick). This can add up though, so I’d like to try creating a basket or container tucked away with small toys or activities for when they are sick.  This is something I am still working on. 

I am not a big fan of slime, but it provided some good hours of entertainment for the kids while we were all under the weather in October. Since, they don’t usually play with it, this was something special that kept them occupied for a long time. Then I tossed it, never to be seen again. Nonetheless, I was glad I had something new to bring out that kept them occupied. 

Don’t Go Overkill With Cleaning and Sanitizing

Guilty. With the stomach virus earlier this season, I bleached, wiped, washed my hands until they were cracked and bleeding, washed bedding with hot water, and we all still got sick, save for Grandma and Grandpa who just stayed away (Thank God)!

This circulates back to my first idea that sickness just happens and despite your best efforts, there is sometimes nothing you can do to prevent it from happening. 

I guess what I really want to say is you can clean and try your best to sanitize but don’t be a crazy maniac about it. It might be better to just take the restful moments you have (if any) and sit. Cuddle up with the kids and watch the movie. Make that cup of tea. Take the nap. I am the worst at this, but I am trying. 

Take Advantage of When Your Family is Healthy

I’m a pretty hardcore introvert. I have to be cooped up in my house a long time before it really starts to wear on me. Even as a homebody at heart, dealing with sickness, yours or your spouse or kids, day in and day out for a while, can be hard. I am one of those people where I am fine, until I am totally not fine and I burst. 

So I have to say to myself and now I am saying to you, introvert or not, take advantage of when you are healthy. Say yes to those playdates, those get togethers, or when your husband suggests the whole family go out and do something. Take your daughter to her friend’s pool party and go down the waterslide with her as many times as she wants. Say yes to getting together with other couples, even though you might have the strong urge to take a raincheck and stay in. Say yes because there might be a day in about three weeks when you are neck deep in vomit and you just want the hell out. 

Stay healthy friends. It is likely though that you won’t, so I hope these little tips are encouraging. 

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Here are a few of my favorite countertop basket items:

Zarbees baby soothing chest rub: made with eucalyptus, lavender and beeswax

Nuun hydration tablets: these were a lifesaver for me after the stomach virus. Very little sugar unlike other electrolyte drinks. 

Oilogic Stuffy Nose and Cough Vapor Bath: bubbles that help kids breath (yes, please). If you can’t find the bath bubbles, I like the epsom salt too. 

-PRI Manuka Honey Lemon Honey Lollipops: I don’t know if these really help a sore throat, but my kids love them and they are special treat when they are sick.