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When Life Gives You Stomach Bugs…

…pack a bucket.

2021 has started off explosively…. and not in a good way. As if 2020 hadn’t been enough to knock all of us senseless, here comes the New Year on a bender. COVID, quarantines, masks, virtual schooling, job loss — we’ve experienced constant historical events and, I think I speak for all of us when I say, it’s gotten old FAST.

Parenting in all of the nonsense has certainly been a stay-at-home adventure that I’m sure most of you can relate to. Our lives stopped (basically) on a dime back in March and humanity as we knew it was shuttled in to virtual learning, virtual working (or, like in mine and my husband’s case, lack of working altogether), virtual everything. This world-wide-web, instant-gratification generation still proved that we as a people still crave outside human interaction. In short: it’s been nothing less than a dumpster fire.

Some things that have not changed on the parenting front are tummy aches, booboos, and other such childhood ailments. That, my friends, is where this story and the things I’ve picked up on over the years begins.

My boys are attending school on campus because my husband and I work. Virtual is just not an option for us. Besides the work factor, my kids learn better in a traditional school setting. Our school is amazing and has done a stellar job at keeping things as “normal” as possible as well as keeping our kiddos safe. So far, so good (praise!). That said, kids are gross in general. Colds, flus, and stomach viruses are basically unavoidable. My kids pick up everything like a bad habit, so I knew they’d be sick soon when I heard a stomach flu was making the rounds. Man, when they get sick they go big. Both my middle and youngest woke up sick last Saturday morning with no end in sight. I registered almost 2,000 steps on my FitBit between 1AM & 8AM just cleaning rugs, couches, blankets and children. By the time I got them both settled in and I tried to do likewise (about 4AM), I was exhausted. Unfortunately, and I’m sure you mommas can understand, I startled awake in mild panic with every cough, sniffle, and sudden movement from the boys. Both boys woke up around 830, which meant I only got a solid 30 minutes of sleep. Thankfully, they bounced back relatively quickly. This momma sure could’ve used a solid eight hours — although I’d have settled for at least a few hours uninterrupted.

That said, here are a few things that I wish I’d have known going into this parenting gig:

  1. Invest in buckets. Y’all, I cannot stress this enough. If you can buy buckets by the dozen, do it. I keep one in my car and we have several in the house for times such as these. Believe me when I say you’ll much rather clean a bucket than have to scrub a carpet at 2AM. However, when accidents happen (and they will) make sure you have…
  2. Kitty litter & baking soda. Do yourself a favor and don’t skimp on the kitty litter. I mean, it doesn’t need to have gold flakes in it or anything, but you’ll want something that won’t morph into a gelatinous mess when all you’re trying to do is restore some semblance of order in the house at the buttcrack of dawn.
  3. Any beverages need to be sugar free. I almost didn’t add this one, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t consider the effect sugar can have on a sick stomach. Basically, it’s not great. Stock up on sugar free ginger ale, Gatorade, and Pedialyte. This will help hydrate the body without stimulating another bout of tummy upset. Plus, at least for my kids, it helps control the urge to take long gulps. The taste isn’t bad, but my kids sip these beverages slowly rather than sucking them down in .02 seconds.
  4. Mattress protectors. It never hurts to have a few cheap mattress covers on hand. My boys like to sleep on the couch when they’re sick (I did when I was a kid, too), and a twin size mattress cover will cover the most couch cushion sets without issue. Obviously, these are great for actual beds, as well. So… not a bad investment in general. I don’t leave them on mattresses all the time because the noise drives me nuts, but I learn to deal with it during stomach flu attacks.
  5. Emetrol & kids’ Pepto tablets will be your besties. I just found Emetrol this past go ’round so maybe I’m late to the game, but Y’ALL. I love that it didn’t make my kids sleepy but that it helped soothe their tummies enough to help make them comfortable for sleep. I don’t like giving my kids anything that might make them drowsy, but know that they’re like me enough to not handle nausea well. This is something that will be a permanent medicine cabinet fixture in the Paul home. BONUS POINTS: it’s safe for kids 2 and up.
  6. And last but not least, find Febreze Pet Odor Eliminator. “But Sarah, that’s dumb.” Nah, girl. Hear me out. This stuff doesn’t mask rough odors — it totally annihilates them. Plus, it leaves a clean scent that isn’t overwhelming, flowery, or super sweet. When I say it smells clean, I mean it. smells. CLEAN. And it completely covers that puke smell that even the most iron-gutted individual struggles with tolerating.

I’m sure there are other things I could point out that I’m just not thinking about, but I think you get the idea. If you take nothing away from this except, please do yourself a favor and remember to “Invest in buckets”.

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