I’ve had my share of horrifying, exhausting and gross sick kid experiences.
Daddylibrium was out of town the first time Eli, then an infant, got sick. Dehydration and excessive vomiting caused his condition to quickly turn life threatening. Another time, I took my son to the doctor hours before a flight only to find out he had a double ear infection. He was prescribed medicine that listed upset stomach and diarrhea as potential side effects. Said side effects occurred during take off, so I wasn’t allowed to get up while my child screamed in pain and stinky foamy diarrhea leaked out everywhere, covering my hands, arms and outfit.
We are currently in the midst of a seven-day sick streak – one or both of our children have been sick everyday during that span. For some reason it has not been miserable … in fact, parts of it have been profoundly moving. So, here are a few tips that are working for us this time around.
1. As soon as you realize junior is sick, grab a pen and paper and quickly log your child’s symptoms, condition, and any medication you administer throughout the day. When your child wakes with a fever at 2 a.m., you can look at your log and determine if you can administer medicine. A log is also useful if symptoms continue and you need to see a doctor. Medical types ask a lot of questions and can provide better care if they have more accurate information.
2. Organize your log, medicine, thermometer and tools that you use to administer the medicine in one easy to find, but child inaccessible, place. This ensures you have everything you need when it’s time to administer another dose of meds.
3. Know thy tools. One of the most helpful things I learned from our nurse line is that if you are having trouble keeping your child’s fever down, you can alternate acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Frequently we will give our child Tylenol (acetaminophen) and it will bring the fever down, but the fever comes back before the next dose of acetaminophen is due. Instead of making your child wait it out, and suffer, consider giving them a dose of ibuprofen to reduce the fever.
4. Indulge in TV. We usually limit our children’s screen time, but not in times of sickness. TV helps pleasurably pass the time. When your child is sick, anything you can do to make time pass more quickly helps everyone feel better.
5. Think of comforting your child as an opportunity to make memories. I have vivid memories of my mom caring for me when I was sick. She served little cups of 7-up, kept my pillows fluffed, put cold wash cloths on my face and neck, rubbed my back and made me know I was loved. At 35 years old, I still want my mommy when I’m sick. It has been profound to see how much Daddylibrium and I can provide comfort to our kids when they are sick. Ben was whimpering about being in pain recently, but when I picked him up and rocked him, he snuggled into me and fell asleep.
6. Don’t multi-task. Disengage from obligations if possible. If you’re able to call in sick to be with your child, call in sick and don’t work from home. Taking care of a sick child and working are not complementary activities. Doing both invites frustration as most people cannot simultaneously do both well.
7. Sleep when they sleep. Taking care of a sick child is as difficult as tending to a newborn, so be kind to yourself. Let the dishes in the sink stack up and take advantage of your child’s sleepy time to get your own rest.
8. Accept help when offered. If someone offers to pick up a prescription or do something else helpful for you, just say “yes” and “thank you.” You’re giving the other person an opportunity to do something they can feel good about. Don’t fight it.
9. If your insurance company offers a free nurse line, keep the number handy and call if you have questions. You can often get answers quickly and may save time and money by avoiding a trip to the doctor.
10. For the times when it’s hard, you’re exhausted, and it isn’t fun, remember, this too shall pass.