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.
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.