How to Fight Wintertime Illnesses
Our household has been sick this past week. Thankfully, so far, the adults have been spared, as well as the teens; but the four younger children have all had some sort of stomach bug. Judging from the smells I have smelled, I suspect that the kids have had rotavirus. I have taken some precautions around the house, and through experience I’ve found that we can reduce a lot of rebound illnesses when I do so. A downside of larger families is that we can pass around many viruses for so long that it can seem we are sick for months on end. Here is my game plan for what I do when the kids begin to get sick:
- Stock Up. At the first sign of household illness I make a trip to the store to make sure I have enough paper products (toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels for cleaning), bleach, Pedialyte, Gatorade, ginger ale, canned chicken noodle soup in case I’m too sick to make soup, diapers, tylenol, dish soap, and easy foods. Our local grocery stores will also deliver groceries for a small fee, which is totally worth it if you have sick people in the house.
- Start the Laundry. Sick kids create a lot of laundry. It helps if you start out the illness with laundry caught up so that you can place soiled linens right into the washing machine. Also, when we are sick, I use bleach. Liberally. Years ago I bought white bathroom towels after we spent several months passing the same virus around. Now, when we are sick, we use the white towels and bleach them in a hot wash.
- Wash your hands. Yes, you always should, but be very conscious of it when illness is in the house. As much as I hate using paper towels, they have their place when people are sick. One time use for drying hands helps stop cross contamination.
- Grab a Wipe. I’m not a big everyday Clorox wipe user, but I sure am when we are sick. I wipe down all faucet handles, doorknobs and light switch covers several times a day when we are a sick house.
- Sanitize your toothbrushes. I don’t know about your house, but in ours we have eight toothbrushes sharing a very small space. So, when we are sick, I soak them every night in hydrogen peroxide and I rinse them in very hot water. When we are ALL better, I replace the toothbrushes.
- Quarantine the sick kid. I try to put a positive spin on this by creating a “nest” on one of the couches with blankets and a pillow, books, snacks, drinks and the television remote. The kid stays put and then I just have to work on keeping the other kids away (the germophobe teens stay away on their own!).
- Write it down. While you may be able to keep track of temperatures and medications and fluids consumed for one kid, add another sick kid into the mix and you are going to get all mixed up. I keep a small spiral notebook and I note when I take temperatures, or give tylenol, or pour more ginger ale. This way if I need to call our family doctor I know things like when the last wet diaper was, or whether fever has gone up or down, or how long the kid has even had a fever. Plus, if I end up getting sick and the Rev. needs to take over, he knows where everyone stands.
- Change all of the bedding. Once we are feeling better I wash all of the bedding. It is a big job. However, it is much better than running through the same illness again. Plus, nothing feels better than a set of clean sheets when you are recovering from an illness!
- Keep your sense of humor. You just have to. . .trust me on this.