So, despite my children’s questionable sanitary practices, the Lord has blessed them with amazing health. Between five children, over the course of eight years, we have only had two ear infections and three rounds of antibiotics. One illness we do tend to get however, is an annual case of the stomach bug. Given my extensive experience with gastroenteritis, otherwise knows as 24 to 48 hours of horror, I thought I would share my secret weapon – the stomach bug survival kit.
When a kiddo comes in at night and even mentions the word “stomach,” I send them to the bathroom to see if maybe that will do the trick. If they come back after that and still have complaints, I pull out “the kit” and get to work.
Item #1 – A Hair Rubber Band
This one is pretty self-explanatory. The rubber band is for the child’s hair if it is long enough to fall in her face. It is essentially to limit mess and contamination. No one wants souvenirs hanging around for the next day.
Item #2 – Paper Towels
The paper towels are for hand and mouth wiping and really anything else that needs to be wiped. I follow up the paper towels with hand sanitizer or bleach wipes, whichever is most appropriate for the surface in question.
Item #3 – A Grocery Bag
This is where you put the used paper towels and wipes. The goal here is to contain the germs. You don’t want to just toss them into a trash can. That would spread the contamination, and plus, who can handle that smell in a contained area? I usually layer several bags together, just in case. Can you tell that this whole process totally grosses me out?
Item #4 – Hand Sanitizer
This is known as “hanitizer” in our house. Yes, even Jeff and I say it. Another evidence that our children are slowly leaching away our brain cells. Anyway, I slather hand sanitizer on the hands and arms of both myself and the sick child after each “session.”
Item #5 – Bleach Wipes
I LOVE CLOROX WIPES! I’m sure they provide a false sense of security, but I don’t care – I’ll take it. I move on to the Clorox wipes right after I have used the hand sanitizer. I wipe down every surface that the sick child has touched or even looked at. Now, this is still in stage one (in the bathroom), so that basically just means the toilet, floor and maybe a wall. I will admit that I have used Clorox wipes on myself, but I never use them on my kids. Aren’t I a good mom?
There comes a point at which everything has slowed down, and there’s no longer a need to camp out at the toilet. This is usually made obvious by your child when she either announces she’s done, or she straight up passes out on the tile floor. Once you’ve hit this point, it’s time to proceed to stage two. Stage two occurs in your bedroom, rather than the bathroom. This is when you set up shop on the floor next to your bed. The goal in stage two is to get both of you as much rest as possible, while still avoiding the need to re-carpet the room.
Item #6 – A Large Trash Bag or Plastic Shower Curtain Liner
The trash bag is your safety net, per se. It serves as the bottom layer of the floor pallet your kiddo will sleep on for the remainder of the night. It’s most important that this be positioned under the child’s head to save your carpet, should she get sick again in the night. I use contractor size trash bags because they cover a large area and are super sturdy, just in case I need to roll up and dispose of one.
The trash bag also serves as an alarm of sorts. If your child starts moving around, the plastic will rustle together, alerting you that trouble’s a comin’.
Item #7 – A BIG Bowl
The purpose of this one is pretty obvious. If your child is old enough, she can grab the bowel if she wakes up and needs to get sick. If your child isn’t capable of that yet, it’s there for you to grab and hold for her. Since you’re a mother, it’s a given that you now possess super sonic hearing and will hear if your child moves around or gets restless in the night.
Something to consider is what bowl you choose for your kit because it will forever remain the throw up bowl in your children’s eyes. Simply seeing the bowl in this post prompted my oldest, and most dramatic, daughter to suddenly get nauseous and run to the bathroom. Yes. That is the level of hypochondria I deal with around here. It’s okay. It’s just payback for my childhood.
So, once you have all of your supplies in place and your child situated, it’s safe to crawl in bed yourself. After being a mom for a few years, you realize that staying awake all night to stare at your sick, but sleeping child only leaves you exhausted and grumpy. If you’re a martyr, purposely pulling an all-nighter is probably your thing, but after a few kids, you’ll get over that too.
So, build your kit, stash it somewhere convenient and sleep well. Now there’s no need to fear the inevitable – you’re prepared. And when that sad little one comes wandering into your room, announcing her ailment, you can turn to your hubby and confidently tell him, “Don’t worry. I got this!” Who are we kidding? Husbands never wake up in the first place.