Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Rookie Mom's Tips for Surviving the Flu

Disclaimer: The vast majority of these tips were passed on to me from veteran mamas, without whom I may not have survived the last two weeks.

The leaves are not yet off the trees here in our little corner of the planet, and flu season was not at the forefront of my mind. Notice I said was. Now I'm totally preoccupied with it, being that it dealt us a good blow this month. It was absolutely no fun at all, but I learned a lot and it's worth sharing! It all started with a simple text from my mom on a Friday morning: "Jake is sick. Call me when you can." It turned out he had been up half the night at their house (he usually sleeps over on Thursday nights, since my mom watches him on Fridays) with a fever, and did not really get out of bed all morning. He was lethargic, with low appetite and energy, and complaining that things hurt. By the time I picked him up that afternoon, he had that glassy-eyed "I reallyreallyreally don't feel good" look on his face, and when I lifted him up, he puked all over me. Whoa, that was a mommy first. Breathe through your mouth. Stay calm. Staying calm proved easier said than done as the night went on, his fever rose to 104 and he wouldn't drink anything. We suspect it was a nasty flu bug of some sort, and as he recovered from it over the following week, another whammy hit him: the dreaded tummy virus. Add to that the fact that Hubs and my mom were down for the count with that same flu bug and I seriously felt like I was living some kind of zombie outbreak. But, in a blur of rehydration drinks and thermometers, vaporizers and chicken soup, here's what I learned:

DO stock up in advance of cold and flu season on some essentials. Seriously, make your life when your family is sick as easy as possible. No one wants to make a pharmacy run at midnight, so pick up things like saline nasal spray, Tylenol (children and adult versions), rehydration beverages, vapor rub, cough remedies and single-serve portions of applesauce and Jello. A few new things I learned in this department: when your child is running an impressive fever but won't or can't take anything by mouth, Tylenol suppositories are a lifesaver. I won't be without a box for cold and flu season ever again. And also - I understand that children's rehydration beverages are sometimes neccessary, but I hate that Pedialyte is loaded with artificial colors and flavors. A colleague recommended Gerber's natural version, Replenish, which has the added bonus of coming in a convenient two-pack, so if you open one bottle and don't finish it, at least you didn't waste the entire quantity like I always find with the big bottle of Pedialyte.

DON'T bring your sick child into your bed. Seriously, just don't. There are a number of reasons for this, but chief among them, do you really want to add to the crazy amount of vomit laundry you're already amassing? I am not saying don't comfort your sick child - far from it. Sleep on their floor or in their rocker, on the couch with them, whatever, just keep them far from your bed. You and your spouse deserve a puke-free zone, especially if you are tag-teaming the sick kiddo while the other attempts to get some rest. Plus, you do not need the germs any closer to you than they already are, nor do you need to be wakened from your 20 minute power nap by getting barfed on by an incoherent preschooler.

DO look at every item in your home as a potential source of germs, and treat it as such. Doorknobs, counter tops, toilets, linens (especially hand towels), cups, silverware, the refrigerator handle - bleach it all. This is not the time for your favorite natural cleaner, vinegar, or even Lysol. Bleach, people. Will your house smell like a custodial closet for awhile? Yes. It's a small price to pay. 

DON'T use hand towels in the bathroom or kitchen towels in the kitchen. Now is not the time to worry about the planet. Switch to paper towels. Cloth towels are like breeding grounds for germs. Same goes for your child's lovey - hot water and bleach that sucker.

DO wash your hands. Often. So often and with water so hot your skin gets dry. It's one of the best defenses against germs. I got downright obsessive about it. Every time I passed a sink, I washed my hands, even if I had just done so 25 seconds earlier. Then I dried them with my trusty paper towels.

DO repeat to yourself: "this too shall pass, this too shall pass." 

DO get a flu shot, and get one for your kiddo too. I know this can be a controversial topic, but I'm on the side of the fence that believes the benefits outweigh the risks. Particularly when you are pregnant, trying to work full-time and anticipating a winter newborn baby. After these last two weeks I couldn't get that darn (preservative free) shot fast enough.

DON'T forget to stop and appreciate how much little ones need and cherish their mommy's loving touch and comforting presence when they don't feel well. Mommies are the best medicine of all!

How can anyone resist comforting and pampering this sweet, sick little angel?

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