Inside: The stomach bug with kids can be a nightmare! Follow these 7 tips to make surviving the stomach bug a little less painful.
The Stomach Bug. I’m pretty sure there are few things parents dread more than dealing with the stomach bug. It’s right up there with potty training!
We just survived another round of the stomach flu with kids last week. It made its way through all four kids, age 8 down to age 2.
Thankfully, having been through it before, I’ve learned a few tips that made this time a hundred times easier than before. The stomach bug with kids is messy and unpleasant, but you can get through it with these tips from a mom who survived the stomach flu just last week!
7 Tips to Survive the Stomach Bug with Kids
1) Pay close attention when your kids say, “Mommy, my stomach hurts.”
Maybe it just takes time, but I’m hoping you can master this one a little sooner than I did! The first few times your child says, “My stomach hurts,” all you think is, “Maybe she needs a drink or ate too much sugar.”
The stomach bug happens so rarely, it’s often not even on your parental radar. And oh, how it should be!
There’s a special tone and facial expression that comes with the stomach bug. When you hear them complain of a sore stomach more than once, listen up, and pay attention!
Check their temperature, and make sure you have a bucket handy because you’re probably going to need it! This last round, I’ve gotten so good at recognizing the stomach bug body language that I grabbed the bucket and thrust it under said child’s mouth with perfect timing. I’m pretty sure James Bond couldn’t have done it better.
2) Make sure you have the supplies you need BEFORE the stomach bug actually hits.
There’s nothing worse than having the stomach bug hit and needing to run to the store (which you obviously can’t, unless you have another adult home with you). I try to keep the following supplies on hand:
We have one large bucket for washing the car, mopping (well, I don’t actually mop anymore, but you know), etc. IKEA trash cans we have around the house are also a good size for throwing up into. Gross, I know.
I keep a few Yankee Candles in the house year-round. Burning them in the bathrooms really helped with the smells, especially after stuff started coming out the other end. <Yuck>
By the way, I didn’t know that to make your candles last longer, you should trim before every burn. Also, the first time you burn it, let it burn for four hours to ensure even melting. Who knew?
I really wish I would have had a pair of cleaning gloves this past go around with the stomach flu! Time to invest in some ASAP.
I personally love having Gatorade around during the stomach bug. Pedialyte seems disgusting to me for whatever reason, but it would work, too.
I mention this later on, but I don’t trust my normal cleaning wipes to effectively fight the stomach flu. I don’t care what research throws at me, I want nasty chemicals to fight the stomach bug. While regular lysol wipes do not kill the norovirus that causes the stomach flu, Lysol has recently developed a hydrogen peroxide wipe has been proven to kill it.
A diluted solution of bleach and water also effectively kills the norovirus.
We switched over to a paperless kitchen for the most part last summer. But paper towels are a MUST for all the nasty stomach bug fluids. I’ve tried several types of paper towels, and Bounty always wins in quality by a landslide.
If there is one thing I recommend for families NOT to declutter, it’s old towels and blankets and sheets. Obviously, there is a reasonable limit, but one year we faced the stomach bug without those things (thank you, Marie Kondo), and I was very, very sad.
We always seem to be without carpet cleaner, right when we need it most. All parents should have one on hand! This one was the number one best seller on Amazon, but we have yet to try it.
3) Be gracious to the parent who just can’t handle stomach bug clean-up duty (it might be you!).
Everyone has different reactions to the stomach bug: handling bodily fluids, the smell, everything about it. The second the puking started, my husband slowly backed away and offered to go to the store before my son had even stopped throwing up.
I just found out that of my parents, it was actually my mom who couldn’t handle the smell! Turns out my dad did all the up close and personal clean-up.
If one parent just can’t handle it without throwing up, too, make that parent in charge of running to the store for supplies, taking care of all the other kids, and getting the other parent food and drinks.
Tempting though it is, don’t blame them! They really can’t help it.
4) Make sure kids sip fluids, not guzzle them, while they have the stomach bug.
My daughter was once so ill with the stomach bug that she threw up every 15 minutes for four hours straight. It was so bad that I ended up taking her to the hospital in the middle of a blizzard.
When we arrived, they automatically withheld fluids: the opposite of what I would have done!
You want to rehydrate your child, and since they are thirsty (and often begging for a drink), you let them drink as much as they want. But the stomach bug seems to be so violent lately that huge gulps have the opposite effect you hope for.
Drinking as much as they want to can send them into an unbreakable cycle of throwing up, which can actually put them at increased risk for dehydration.
Note: If your child is unable to keep anything down for longer than a couple of hours, be sure to contact your doctor to decide whether or not they do need to visit to the hospital or not. Dehydration is no joke.
5) If both parents get the stomach bug with the kids, ask for help!
Thankfully, my husband and I took turns getting the stomach bug after the kids finished. I don’t know what we would have done if both of us had been sick at the same time. I literally felt so sick I wanted to go to the hospital – that’s how bad I felt!
I’m pretty sure if we had all been sick at the same time, we would have used Amazon Prime Now (one of the many perks of Amazon Prime).
Normally, we’re too frugal to pay the ridiculous prices, but when you’re sick as a dog, you don’t care how much you have to pay for Gatorade, Saltines, and Lysol Wipes. You just want it to show up when you need it.
At the very least, make sure you have a few people you can rely on to bring you groceries when you need it.
I hesitate to ask anyone else to come anywhere near the stomach flu, but they can leave the groceries on the doorstep and not even touch the handle.
6) Once you’ve made it through the first one or two kids being sick with the stomach flu, disinfect EVERYTHING.
I’m not going to be overly optimistic here. The unfortunate thing about life with small children is that they share everything (and you usually share it with them, too). If any of you escape unscathed, it will be nothing short of miraculous.t
At the same time, I probably don’t need to tell you twice to do everything you can to avoid it.
Normally, I avoid cleaners with strong chemicals. We have swapped most of our household cleaners for natural ones. However, when you’re dealing with the stomach bug with kids, I just don’t trust the natural stuff.
You need to bring out the big guns.
Lysol door handles, surfaces, sink faucets, trash cans, throw-up buckets. Wash any dishes used during the stomach flu with an anti-bacterial dish soap. Launder soiled towels and blankets with this sanitizing laundry additive.
Do whatever you can to kill that nasty stuff (even though it often seems to be unkillable).
And don’t forget to throw away your toothbrushes! Having back-up toothbrushes on hand is a good idea, too.
7) Air out your house and spend time outdoors.
Even if it’s the dead of winter, I recommend opening the windows and letting air circulate. There is something about closed, toasty warm spaces that seems to be a breeding ground for illness.
Spend time outside as a family as well, kids and adults. The fresh air might not actually do anything physically (though I’m sure there are studies to prove that it does), but it does wonders for your soul.
The One Upside to the Stomach Flu with Kids
The one upside to the stomach bug is that it lasts less than 48 hours per person. Depending on how big your family is and how many people get sick, it could all be over in four or five days, which is much better than other illnesses. The cold and the actual flu can last weeks and take forever to cycle through your whole family.
The stomach bug with kids is tough, but temporary, and it usually only comes around every couple of years.
You can conquer it! Here’s to you becoming an expert bucket-puke-catcher (#momgoals) and staying healthy yourself!