Practical Tips for (Anxious) Parents During Flu Season

February brings fun holidays. In February, Valentine’s Day may bring the promise of fancy dinners and chocolate, and one can expect to be knee-deep in Mardi Gras eating/celebrating/parading if not Fat Tuesday itself. 

February this year has also meant an onslaught of flu virus and strep. Oh, and the flu virus this year seems to have circumvented any flu immunization shot. So all those props you gave yourself for getting through the annual dread of bringing children to get flu shots fly away, much like the chocolates given on Valentine’s Day. (Sidebar – I and my husband will continue to get and bring my children to get flu shots every year anyway).

It is times like these that as parents of sick kids, we need a strategy, we need support, we need flexibility, we need supplies.

While there is a strong temptation here to go on a rant about how employers seem to offer less and less paid time off (if at all), that kids lack support from school strategizing how to help them catch up on the work they’ve missed, and the bigger lack of support for single parents, I won’t be getting into those topics here. Instead, I offer a review of a few things that are what I like to call, “The Staples of Handling Common Childhood Illness.” Heads up, these are tailored for the anxious parent. Because well, that’s me. 

More Than Just Fitness

Your Fitbit is a great way to help yourself wake up every hour obsessively checking for fevers, making sure the child is breathing, or seeing if they’re throwing up. Yes! Your trusty step tracker can be set for silent alarms that will vibrate on your wrist and not wake a sleeping partner (despite how much they deserve to get a cold bucket of water dumped on their head since they can sleep soundly knowing their child could very well be a. burning alive with a fever or b. throwing up so much they’re in need of Father Damien Karras).

Stock up On Detergent

Laundry detergent is a necessary supply as well. Germs obviously live on everything, and since the sick person has germs emanating from their quarantined auras, washing and changing sheets, blankets, rags, and puked on stuffed animals becomes as regular as giving the kid ibuprofen. May I suggest a detergent with a lovely smell. You need it while surviving this house of horrors. 

Put Your Pets to Work

A nice dog or cat can be a life saver. They can be a good substitute for the sick child’s need to cling or snuggle while you HAVE to take a quick bath or shower because you are also now covered in germs and feel generally yucky.

Netflix and Try to Chill

A subscription to a streaming service that has all episodes of a favorite TV show can be the difference maker then next time some horrible news from the government interrupts the Young and the Restless.

Length Matters

A charger long enough to allow for phone charging while using is also a must. Those infinite lives that you earned from playing a dumb game for an hour straight aren’t going to play themselves, and it’s a necessary distraction while waiting to see if the acetaminophen has kicked in

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

Good friends you can complain to who understand you’d give any body part needed for your child, but who also know you need a box of wine and possibly chocolate cake to recover from your ordeal. 

Things that did not make the list this year but deserve additional consideration are: plastic bags for containing the smell on things/clothes/bedding that are just too gross to deal with, the Waitr app because you can’t leave the house in the midst of the plague, and a gaming console so you can play an uncomplicated game to distract you from your ever-spiraling intrusive thoughts regarding whether or not your life will ever return to normal. It will, I promise, and the relief that comes with routine shall rock you back to sleep again soon.

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