Saturday, November 13, 2010

Five Tips for Surviving the Season of Sniffles

With a first-grader, a preschooler and three toddlers, our house is rampant with runny noses, shared stomach bugs and whatever the illness du jour may be… Coxsackie virus? Strep throat? Fifth’s disease? We’ve had them all and, survived them all thanks to our following five must-haves:

1. Paper products and lots of ‘em. In our house, noses run like faucets and there’s a box of tissues in every room. Even so, we sometimes run out and then there’s a roll of toilet paper or paper towels in every room. Classy, right? What can I say? Desperate times call for desperate measures. Especially when a virus suddenly spreads from noses to bellies and we find ourselves short on T.P. just when we need it. The morale of this story? Don’t wait ‘til the kids get sick – stock up now and when you think you have enough tissues, toilet paper and paper towels to survive the season, buy a few more. Then you should be all set.

2. Surprizzles. What is a surprizzle, you say? A surprizzle is a small, unexpected little treat. A modestly-sized surprise. Something that evokes a room-brightening smile on even the darkest of days. I’ve learned to make our dark days brighter by keeping a few surprizzles on hand at all times. Kid has a fever and you want them to chill out in the tub? Give them some cool tub crayons to keep ‘em busy… and, as an added perk, teach them to clean the tub afterwards! Can’t stand to hear “I’m bored” one more time? Whip out that new video that you nabbed for $4.99 the last time you were at Costco. Got a little fella who needs a pick me up? A matchbox car almost always does the trick. And, for a little lady who’s feeling sick and blue, a nice new coloring book will give her something to do. Keep a few surprizzles on hand and I guarantee that your sick days will be a bit less dreary.

3. Caffeine. No joke. A sick day is almost always preceded by a sick night. The kind of night when you just might have run out of tissues, toilet paper and paper towels. The kind of night when you may have done three loads of laundry after midnight. The kind of night where your tiny tot slept in fitful feverish bouts while you watched over them wrenching your worried hands. When the sun finally rises, your sweet little sickie will likely snooze ‘til ten but you still have to get someone else to school, empty the dishwasher, walk the dog and have your best Florence Nightingale act perfected for when your Sleeping Sickie rises. So, do yourself a favor and the next time you’re at Costco or wherever you go, in addition to that cheap DVD for the surprizzle stock, buy the super-sized bag of coffee or another case of Diet Coke or whatever it is you are into. You’ll be glad that you did.

4. The basics. I make an annual trek to CVS and stock up on Tylenol, Motrin, and pretty much anything else that catches my eye in the jam-packed kids medicine aisle… Benadryl, bacetracin, calamine lotion, hydrogen peroxide, band-aids of all shapes, sizes and Disney characters, you get the picture. And, cleaning out is as important as stocking up… I recently had to clear out the tiny tots cold/cough medicine (looks like the FDA or the AAP changed their mind on that one!), all the stuff that Johnson & Johnson recalled this summer and a slew of old expired bottles. Believe me, you don’t want to be looking for this stuff in the middle of the night. You’ll sleep soundly knowing that you’ve got the goods in place for the times you really need it.

5. A back up plan. Someone to take your big kid to soccer if the little ones are sick. Someone who will cover for you at work when you have to run to the pediatrician. A friend you can call who’s seen it all before. Someone who might come over just long enough for you to take a shower… and, possibly make you that cup of coffee you will surely need.

With these things in place I know I can handle the cold and flu season that looms ahead of us… now, if someone would just bring us some nice home-made chicken soup, we’d be all set!

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