The definitive guide to surviving the vomiting bug with children
Cases of Norovirus are on the rise in Ireland
Let's face it, it is disgusting, germy, contagious, and involves copious amounts of laundry. Pure hell. Oh, and your poor kids of course.
It is also the staggered nature of the norovirus that makes it even trickier to get a handle on - each child usually starts puking on a different day. Invariably, you get it on the last day that they are sick (which is also the day of peak laundry).
Vomiting while loading the washing machine is not the best poster image for the Glory of Motherhood.
Drawing on my vast resume of puke-related events in my mothering lifetime, here are my hard-earned top tips to get through the vomiting bug:
1. Educate yourself
Know your enemies. And believe me, this is the worse enemy you are going to have at the moment, as long as your child is near other children and touching surfaces or objects that have this virus on them. It is contagious, and symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea. Other symptoms include missing the toilet bowl and puking down your legs, an inability to bend heads over a basin and the need to stick their hands into it, mid-puke.
2. Arm yourself
Some say flat 7-UP, others swear by ginger ale. I say don't leave anything to chance, and go ask the experts. My go-to is an oral rehydration drink like Dioralyte which is a balance of sugar and electrolytes which can help prevent dehydration. It is really important to replace any lost fluid, especially in young children and babies. You can get this at your pharmacist in sachet form, but if you are worried about your child getting too dehydrated you should go to your GP
3. Restrain yourself
I was afraid that my children would end up on a drip in Crumlin hospital so I would lash huge glasses of water into them every time they threw up. Big Mistake. This is irritating their little stomachs and will only result in more throwing-up. Encourage them to take little sips, often. They should avoid eating as much as possible until they start to show an interest in food again, but it is best to stick to crackers or dry toast. Babies should continue their feeds as normal.
4. Calm yourself
Are you a temperature freak like me? I am obsessive about making sure my sick children don't overheat. But guess what? Having a high temperature means their body is fighting off the infection. It is when they go over 38 and a half celsius that you need to watch them carefully. Calpol is handy to bring down their temperature.
5. Mind yourself
Chances are you are in the grips of sickness yourself. Try to get some extra help if you can and rest as much as possible. It is a deeply unpleasant experience. There isn't much you can do about it, so abandon the thoughts of school or work, spread yourself and your kids on the couch and stick on a movie that will keep you all entertained in-between trips to the bathroom. That mess can wait. This too shall pass.
6. Protect yourself
Did you know you can actually reinfect with the stomach virus which could mean a whole second cycle of sickness if you are not careful! Make sure to keep towels separate (chances are you have none clean at this stage anyway) and wash hands A LOT. Immediately remove and wash clothing or bedsheets that may be soiled - wear disposable gloves if you can to avoid spreading the virus. Put a disinfectant in with your detergent at the hottest and longest available wash cycle and then machine dry. If you haven't done laundry and need to run out just stick on old clothes. No one will notice!
7. Delude yourself
Think happy thoughts; Once this wretched sickness is gone you vow to get out more, do more stuff, explore your country, take up a new sport.
There is nothing like feeling rotten for a week to get you revved up and motivated. You will become a gym bunny, your children will get more than the daily recommended running around time, you will join the PTA... Hang on now, let's not get too crazy.
Don't worry, this too shall pass.