It’s that cold, dreary time of year when stomach viruses are looking for a warm new home—and inevitably find that inside my children’s digestive systems. Oh, is that a gross visual? I’m sorry. I have no standard for what’s disgusting anymore since I’ve been COVERED IN VOMIT FOR 48 HOURS. Nor do I have any idea how normal human interactions work anymore because I’ve been quarantined with two spewing children for a week—just working at surviving a stomach bug. Do you hear the desperation coming through in my typing?! DO YOU?!
To help your family in the inevitable attempt at surviving a stomach bug, I have several VERY useful tips to share with you, mama. These are not based on science or medicine—nor do they have anything whatsoever to do with actual medicine. Nope. These are based on nothing but my personal experience—so you can TOTALLY trust them.
- Did you go to bed on time? Because if you stayed up late binge watching Jessica Jones, you’re already screwed. Sorry to break it to you, but you’re already behind in making it through this next week (or more) without losing your mind. See, stomach bugs strike EXCLUSIVELY at 3:00 in the morning—just so you will be sleep deprived. Yes. You are being punished for something in a past life, mama. The sooner you accept this fact, the easier it will be for you.
- Always keep a spray bottle of disinfectant and some paper towels close at hand. When your child says “my tummy hurts,” it’s probably already too late to grab a bucket or rush him to the bathroom—so you’ll need that bottle to clean up the trail on the floor that leads from his pillow to the bathroom. Keep the disinfectant spray close for the rest of the night. Trust me. By the seventh or eighth time he’s puked on you, you’ll be tired of bathing, and you’ll need it to spray your own arms and legs.
- Put on some warm socks. You’ll be spending the rest of the night curled up awkwardly at the foot of your kid’s bed, and there are no blankets that will keep your feet covered up because they will absolutely be hanging off the bed. To prevent toe frostbite during the cold winter months, I recommend a nice, thick pair of wool ones.
- Netflix. Look, we’re a mostly tv-free home too, so I know what you’re thinking. But your kid WILL wake up at 7am—after having puked for four solid hours—and you WILL be a zombie with a crick in your neck. However, your child WILL be instantly and totally cured and ready to run in circles and bounce on the bed. Feel free to use my justification: your kid needs to rest but will not stay in bed like a normal person who has spent the night barfing. We all know the real reason is that you will be too exhausted to do anything else for the rest of the day, but we won’t tell—or judge. In fact, I recommend teaching your kid how to work Netflix at your house so he can just keep watching shows without your having to lift your arms to aim the remote. You won’t have the energy. There’s just not enough coffee in the world.
- Re-hydrate. Arm yourself with your electrolyte-laden beverage of choice, some chicken broth, and some all-natural ginger ale (the kind with actual ginger in it) for replenishing your kid’s fluids. (And for the exhausted caretaker? Well, I like copious amounts of coffee with splashes of bourbon in it, but maybe that’s just me.)
- Wash your hands like you’re getting ready for surgery. Okay. I know I’m sounding a bit like a germaphobe right now—WHICH I AM—(did I mention that you should disinfect EVERYTHING?), but stomach bugs are contagious for up to 72 hours after the vomiting has stopped! Obviously, you’re going to catch whatever your kid has if he’s ralphed in your face (extremely likely), so brace yourself if that’s the case. If you somehow avoided that (and I realize that’s a big if), you might be able to scrape by without getting the bug—IF you wash your hands and make your kids wash their hands every 25 seconds or so. They will enjoy this and will absolutely not whine and scream in protest. Kids LOVE good hygiene!
- If you do catch the bug, don’t panic. If you have a partner or parent who has a flexible schedule, maybe you can pass your kids off for the day. Otherwise, Netflix is still there for you (bonus points to you if you taught your kids how to navigate the menu by themselves!), and one more day of movie watching won’t kill them. Throw some Pirate’s Booty at them when they’re hungry, and remind them about the grapes in the fridge before hauling your sick self back to bed.
When all else fails, remember it’s only temporary. Soon the hell on earth will stop. (At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.) Take some zinc, stay healthy, and let’s all pray that this passes soon.
Any tips of your own to share on surviving a stomach bug, mamas?