There gets to be a certain time each winter when a disturbing image creeps into my mind: a karaoke bar, with a personification of the stomach flu singing Blondie’s “One Way or Another.” I know, it’s a really strange image, but sometimes when various colds, viruses, and other ailments start making the rounds, it only seems like a matter of time before it’s going to “getcha, getcha, getcha, getcha!”
Certainly when it comes to handling these things, a strong defense is great, but despite disinfecting everything, upping your vitamin C intake, and hitting whatever home remedy you favor, your kid is going to get sick.
And nothing tests your parenting moxie like a kid with the flu.
When one of those days rolls around, here are some practical ideas to help make your sick day go just a little bit smoother. In many cases, an ounce of prevention is certainly worth the pound of cure.
There are as many old wives’ tales about how to cure what ails you, but here are a few that are worth trying out. Just a reminder, we are not medical professionals, and nothing here trumps what your medical professionals have advised you.
01: Towels are your BFF
I used to think I owned too many towels, and then I had kids. Towels are amazing. If there is a surface that can’t be put into the washer, such as a couch or carpeting, put a towel over it. In the event of a mess, the towel can be shaken out and then put into the laundry. You can also use towels to act as a splash zone as well.
02: Feed Them the BRAT Diet
Not to make any assumptions about how your little behaves when ill, but this acronym is remind you what are some easy, gentle foods for when it’s time to nosh again. The BRAT diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (unbuttered).
03: Make the Bed – Twice
If you have an extra sheet, save yourself some time in case a middle of the night emergency hits. By putting on a fitted sheet, a mattress pad, and then another fitted sheet, you just have to strip away the soiled top layers and voila – the bed is already made. No rummaging around the linen closet in the middle of the night.
04: Numb Their Taste Buds Before Administering Meds
If your patient can tolerate a popsicle, let them eat about half of it before giving them the medicine. Since their tongue will be so cold, the taste won’t hit them as hard, and then they can wash it all down with the rest of popsicle.
If you have an older child or teen, you can also numb taste buds with hot foods, in temperature or spiciness, so you can also try with a piping hot cup of tea or a spicy snack.
05: Give Them Meds via Fun Dip
Remember that childhood favorite Fun Dip? Where you would suck on a stick made of sugar and then dip it into flavored sugar and then suck that off? (I suddenly understand now why my mom wasn’t a fan of these when I was a kid.)
Take a page out of their play book and let your little dip a sucker into the medicine. Sure it may take longer, but it’s better than skipping a dose.
06: Use a Bottle Nipple to Easily Give Meds to a Baby
A small syringe will fit nicely into a bottle nipple and offer a more familiar texture to baby. If you don’t have any bottle nipples you can also slit a pacifier to use in a similar fashion.
07: Order Dinner and Groceries With Ease
One of the casualties of sick children is housework and daily activities. Save yourself some time (and towing a sick kid around the store) by placing your grocery order online with Family Fare’s Fast Lane. You can also order prepared foods from the deli so you don’t have to worry about cooking dinner, giving you more time to tend to that kiddo who needs you.
08: Create a Dosage Chart to Help you Remember
If a child is taking a prescribed medication, especially something like an antibiotic, it’s vital that all doses are administered. If giving a child an over the counter medicine, it’s also just as important to make sure they aren’t getting too many doses, which can get tricky if multiple caregivers are involved.
Create a simple chart to keep everyone on the same page. If there is space, you can draw a chart directly on the medication bottle, or affix a small Post-it note to it. If you need more space, keep the chart with the medication (plus a pen or marker nearby) so you don’t forgot to mark it.
09: Beat Boredom with Library Resources
If you can’t go your local library, bring the library to your home. Both GRPL and KDL offer tons of great audio books, music, magazines, and even games that you can access with the internet.
10: Use Gelatin to Soothe Sore Throats
If you have a box of Jell-O in the pantry, prepare as normal, but instead of putting in the fridge to set up, drink about ½ cup of it while it’s still in liquid form (but has a cooled enough so as not to scald).
You can divide out other servings, and if the Jell-O starts to set up, you can liquify it by putting it in the microwave for a few seconds.
11: Marshmallows Also Soothe Sore Throats
Very thoroughly chewing and swallowing a couple marshmallows will coat your throat with gelatin.
12: Line Buckets With Multiple Layers of Plastic Bags
We all know that you don’t always get a ton of warning when a wave of nausea hits, so a nearby container like a bucket or small wastebasket is a must. To save you clean-up time, line the container with multiple layers of small plastic bags.
You can also place a paper towel in the bottom of each bag to help absorb and cut down on splash-back. Just tie it up, place in trash, and the bucket is ready for its next job.
13: Honey is a Homerun
Honey is not also great for soothing sore throats and colds, but can also help ease seasonal allergies (if you use a raw, locally produced variety). You can also use it topically to treat dry patches of skin or even sunburn. Please note though that honey should not be given to children under 12 months of age.
14: Make Fresh Ginger Root Tea for Upset Stomachs
If you had a similar childhood to mine, tummy troubles usually meant getting to sip on ginger ale, and while mom meant well, she would have been better off using actual ginger root.
Seep about ½ teaspoon of grated ginger in hot water for about 5 minutes, then drain out ginger to make a tea that will help ease digestive issues. (Feel free to add sugar to make it appealing to your kids!)
Steph is an explorer of local adventures having honed her skills moving all across the country (thanks to her husband's military service) before settling down in the Grand Rapids area with her ragamuffin boy and giggly girl. When not checking out the latest going-on, she can be found gobbling up books and coffee, planning overly ambitious parties, or napping.