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Surviving Stomach Flu Season

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'Tis the season for tummy bugs.

Last week I had five pukers within a 48-hour period, accounting for a total of 19 pukes. Yes, I counted because I was proud. Proud, you say? Some people beam when their kids get a gold medal in a sport or win a spelling bee. My pride comes from knowing that I had 19 rounds of vomit in our house and every single kid hit a toilet or bucket every single time. No need to hold your applause.

I have a few little tricks for when the plague hits:

Be prepared: treat the healthy kids like they're sick.

  • Go on a light diet: as soon as the first kid pukes, anticipate that it is just the beginning. I immediately put the kiddos on a light diet. Dinner becomes soup and toast for everyone -- regardless of how healthy they look or feel. We all know what can start up just a few hours later in the wee hours of the morning. Personally, I'd rather clean bland food and fluids off the floor than have to face regurgitated spaghetti and meatballs.
  • Buckets for everyone: send kids off to bed, each with their very own bucket. Remind them that if they wake up feeling sick, they should look for the bucket BEFORE wandering around looking for mama.
  • Better still, if you have older kids who can make it to the bathroom, set them up for success. Make sure all bathroom lights are on, toilet seats are up and there is a clear path from beds to bathrooms. You don't want a running puker to miss the target because they trip on a fire truck or can't find the light switch.
  • Word up the school: tell them if one of your kids wanders into the office complaining of a sore gut, they shouldn't take the "wait and see" approach. Our school secretary was put on alert -- if one of my kids turns up looking green in the gills, hand over a bucket and call me immediately.

Have the right equipment.

  • Use buckets that have a pouring spout for easy vomit disposal into the toilet. Avoiding those kinds of spills is a top priority.
  • Load up on your puker/puker-recovery supplies -- Gravol, ginger ale, Gatorade, or whatever your little dehydrated people like to consume.

Go into quarantine mode.

  • Cancel activities and playdates. Even the most relaxed mamas don't want to take part in this kind of gastrointestinal fun. Pukefest reminds me that I am too slack about my kids sharing water bottles, towels and the occasional toothbrush. Will I ever learn?
  • Keep that washing machine going. I'm certainly not the "disinfect toys" kind of gal, but PJs, pillowcases and the "sick bed" laundry need some serious love.

Don't get it yourself.

  • Easier said than done, but if you go down, it's all over, Red Rover. The good news is, at a certain point in your mama career the immune system kicks in and you stop catching it. But plan for some backup support, because there's nothing more humbling than wrestling a kid for the puke bucket.

How is your family surviving the latest round of Pukefest? Have you managed to dodge the germy bullet?