Family Life

5 Lessons Learned From Our First Bout of Stomach Flu

Last week we had one of those character-building experiences.

It started on Tuesday night when Kay got a funny look on her face just after dinner. She sort of looked at me, then “returned” her entire dinner. She told me she’d eaten too much, and since she seemed okay afterward, I assumed that’s all it was.

Until the next evening that is. Hubby and I went out for a date night at the movies, but by the time we pulled into the driveway at home I knew things weren’t right. I was out of that car before it came to a full stop and racing for the bathroom. Hubs was about 15 minutes after me, and thus went the next 24 hours for both of us. We’d shared a big tub of greasy popcorn with butter at the movie theatre, which I initially thought was to blame. Until Tee woke up barfing in the middle of the night.

Photo credit: JD Hancock

Ugh. There was no denying it any longer. We all had the stomach flu. When a stomach bug hits, there’s nothing to do but lock the doors and hunker down clutching your vomit bowl to your pale, sweaty chest. If you’re childless, feel free to curl up in bed until you start to feel more human. But of course that doesn’t fly when you have two little ones depending on you to catch their barf, change their diapers, and, you know, keep them alive. You have to know a mother’s love is the most powerful force in the world when it gets you up and fetching apple juice, fighting through your own nausea to clean up seemingly never ending vomit, and sitting through dozens of episodes of Max and Ruby.

We’re actually pretty lucky that it took us this long to get hit with the vomit stick, but I know this won’t be our last time. So what did I learn from our very unhappy 48 hours?

1. Next time I will cover the couch with layers of towels at the first sign of sickness. Linda Blair had nothing on these kids!

2. When you have four sick people, one garbage can is not enough! Keep multiple vomit bowls on hand. Kids don’t give much notice of an impending ralph so you gotta be fast, and you don’t ever want to be more than 6 feet from some sort of receptacle.

3. Once things got ugly, I realized we had not one of the basic sick kid food groups on hand. Thankfully, my mother-in-law went to the store and picked up apple juice, ginger ale, jello, chicken noodle soup, and crackers for us, but we really should have had these stashed in the back of the pantry ahead of time.

4. Keep the flight path between the couch and the washroom clear. I can’t stress this enough! What seems like just a measly few misplaced toys will quickly become a military obstacle course, and your timelines are very tight here!

5. If you cloth diaper, give yourself permission to switch to disposables. The laundry piled up regardless of my best efforts, and even one less load helped. Also, rinsing off dirty diapers was making me heave. In fact, I think this has to be one of the best arguments for disposable diapers I know.

Excuse me while I sanitize my mixing bowls, and I’ll see you on the other side.

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  • I’ve got everything covered today. Last night, out of the blue (and an hour after she fell asleep) she woke up, and it all came up. Her bed is a disaster.

    She seems ok as of now, but I’m ready for anything!

    May the force be with you (and your mixing bowls).

  • we’ve been lucky, this year…the babies didn’t get the bug, altho Granny (me) and Poppa did!!!

  • Oh man! I feel for you for sure. First bout is no fun but none of the other bouts are any more fun! We’ve had our share of this. UGH. I still recall one time we all got sick after the kids had been to a party event and they’d been given some Blue Koolaid. Lesson learned – blue koolaid stains the life out of everything!

  • Any stomach related illness is no fun. Often stomach flu is our way of reacting to something contaminated that we’ve eaten, so it is often really a mild case of food poisoning — and that can be really difficult to trace.

    • No fun at all! I’m pretty sure this was viral. My sister-in-law and her son were both sick with a similar bug a few days before and came over to our house for my daughter’s birthday. Three days later we were all hit with it.

  • that was really going around this year! thankfully none of us got it but my girls were sicks with colds quite a bit this year!

  • Yeah, been there… done that, repeatedly. Ugh. Good advice though! Definitely give yourself permissions to switch to disposable diapers…

  • I remember when my youngest was small my girlfriend stayed with us for two weeks and he kids and mine both got the flu I still refer to it as PUKEFEST98 it was nasty. Between cloth diapers and puke my washer wanted to so on strike!

  • Me and hubby had stomach flu this year too, it’s not nice at all, but it was worse when my hubby got his, he instantly turned 4 years old and I was busy looking after him and the home!