Instead of my kids heading to school this week, we headed to the doctor. They are both sick, and it’s thrown the last week of summer into a tailspin. Here’s the thing about when your kids are sick- nobody else wants to be around them. Maybe you can con grandma, if she’s healthy, into coming over, but she’s the only one. So what do you do when you are faced with 24 or 48 hours, or possibly even longer, tending to sick kids? [Note: This is not intended as medical advice, just my observations on what works for my family when our kids are sick. I’m not a doctor, nor have I ever played one on TV~SJF]
1) Once you see an illness approaching, inventory what you might need to make it through.
Stomach virus? You need clear pediatric electrolyte solution or clear sports drinks.
Sore throat? Popsicles.
Runny nose? Soft tissues.
Fever? Fever reducer of choice and lots fluids.
Once you know what you need, send out the bat signal. See if your partner or a friend can make a pity run to the store for you. Also check household essentials like toilet paper, coffee creamer and whatever kind of milk/comfort beverage your child may need. After all, you don’t want to take your kid out and expose others.
2) Decide when to call the doctor.
Now that my kids are not infants, I typically wait 24 hours for most symptons, unless a fever spikes really high, or if there’s vomiting and a fever together (my kids seem to do that when a strep infection is looming). After six years as a mom, I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out what’s a virus and what might be something actually treatable. When in doubt, call. I called our doctor for everything little thing until our daughter, and then our son, was about two years old. What impressed me was that it was often the doctor himself calling me back.
3) Hunker down and lay low.
It stinks to have to cancel plans because of sick kids, but parents have been doing it for generations. The last year I taught full-time, I took a total of 15 sick days, all to care for my sick kids, and Mr. Sally J took almost as many for the same reason. Have a Plan B, and maybe even a Plan C on how to make it through regarding work and life commitments. When there is something non-negotiable at work, alert your partner or back-up so that they know they are on call if that’s the day your little one comes down with something.
4) Make sure everything is washable.
My kids have a habit of getting sick in the middle of the night. It’s sad and pathetic, it’s also a pain to deal with at 2 a.m. This is why they both have plastic mattress covers and waterproof pillow covers (under their pillowcases). Once the sheets are dealt with, the beds and pillows can be disinfected and put back into use immediately. If you must get into the car, stick a waterproof pad where you can on the car seat. On a similar note, line your puke bucket. Just put a plastic bag inside of whatever bucket or trash can your child is using- it makes clean up so much easier.
5) Try to make it fun.
Break the rules and let them have ice cream after lunch, or take a bath in the middle of the day. Indulge in classic television shows from your youth or break out a box of toys that hasn’t seen the light of day in awhile. It’s a forced break from life, and you might as well make the most of it.
What do you do when your kids get sick? What did your parents do with you?