I would say that, in general, our family is very healthy. And thank the good Lord for it! But, sure enough, every year when March rolls around, one of the kids will inevitably get sick. And in a family of six people, that could very easily spell disaster if we didn’t work really hard to contain the contamination.
Honestly, it’s one of the things I am most proud of in my job as Dr. Mom — the fact that I can take care of one sick kid and keep the rest from falling victim. (Of course, having said that, the next time somebody in my house coughs, I’m pretty sure they’re all going to get pneumonia.)
I have a pretty good track record, all things considered. And while I know that I have to give a lot of credit to my kids overall health and well-being and their excellent immune systems, I can’t completely disregard the hard work that goes into keeping the rest of us healthy when we do have a man down.
So, how do we do it?
Here are the things we don’t do sickness without:
1 – Quarantine, Quarantine, Quarantine
I will 100% admit that this is way easier as the kids get older than it was when they were little. However, it isn’t impossible!!
I’m not saying that you should leave Sicky Sally locked in her room all day. That would just be cruel, no matter how tempting it sounds. No, when I say “quarantine” I really mean to approach it like playing a massive game of “keep-away.”
If you have more than one bathroom in your house, the sick person gets one and everyone else uses the other. If your kids share a room like our girls do, then the healthy one gets to stay sleeping in their own bed. Then the sick kid gets their choice of sleeping in the guest room or having her mattress moved into our room where it’s placed at the foot of our bed. And by all means, no sick child is allowed in our kitchen. Any and all food items and utensils are strictly off-limits unless brought to the sick person by a healthy person (i.e., Mom or Dad).
But the absolute best way we’ve found to implement quarantine over the years is to have…
2 – The Island of Wellness
It makes total sense that when a little person is sick, they don’t want to be left by themselves. They need constant supervision, fever checks, puke bucket tending. The whole kit and kaboodle, as they say.
But how do you keep them quarantined and accessible? Why, you build an Island of Wellness!
Here’s what that looks like at our house. I take a flat or fitted twin-sized sheet and wrap up part of our couch in the family room. (There’s a chaise that sticks off one end of our sectional which makes this very convenient!) Then, I get the sicko’s pillow and a tray that holds tissues and a water bottle. The little patient then gets tucked in right there for the duration of the day! Easily within reach of me, should they need anything, but also with clearly delineated borders that healthy kids know not to cross.
The sick kid knows to stay on the sheets and blankets, while the healthy kids know to stay off of them.
3 – Keep Yo’ Hands to Yo’self
This may seem like the ultimate no-brainer. That doesn’t bother me. Sometimes, it’s good to be reminded of the basics, ya know?
I keep a general no-touch policy for our sick kids. Like I mentioned above, they have to stay out of the kitchen so they don’t handle food-related stuff. But other things to consider in your no-touch rule are
- the TV remotes. If they want the channel changed or a DVD started, or the volume adjusted all they have to do is ask.
- their toys. Yep. I’m that mean mom. They don’t get to play with most of their toys because, frankly, I don’t want to have to clean them all. If there’s something special they want, that’s fine. But they certainly don’t get free rein and it has to be something that’s easy to wash.
Now, something we have that helps in this possibly boring situation is a lap desk. I load it up with crayons or markers or pens, some fun stickers and paper and let them go to town. It works great when you’re trying to make them feel special and help them forget about the things they can’t play with! And it’s a nice spot for them to work on some makeup work the teacher might send home, as well.
4 – Fresh Air
I am a huge proponent of the benefits of fresh air! If you can open the windows, even for a little while, in the room where the sick person is festering…er…healing, that’s fantastic. Open the blinds, throw up the window, and let Mother Nature help however she can.
Then, once the patient is feeling well enough to be up and about a little more, let them go outside!
We’ve done everything from set up an Island of Wellness on the back porch to take our little ones for a short walk up and down the street. Sometimes, a little vitamin D, fresh air, and exercise gets the blood pumping and puts a little pep back in their step.
This is also a good way to let siblings who miss each other hang out together. The wide open spaces of the outside let the kids be together without sharing their germs.
5 – The Products I Can’t Do Without
Lastly, we all know that cleanup is a major part of keeping the germs at bay. Here are my personal favorite products to get the job done.
On Guard essential oil — When we have a sick kid, you can be sure I’m diffusing this all throughout our main living area. I have no idea how or why it works. It very well could be all in my head, but I don’t even care. (If you use a different oil brand, I think it’s called Thieves.)
Antibacterial wipes — Lysol, Clorox, the Costco or Sam’s Club version, whatever. These are absolute essentials for wiping down the bathroom, the TV remotes, my cell phone…basically anything that the sick person OR I have touched. Remember, if you take a temperature or dispense medicine, you’ve contacted the germs, too! Which leads me to…
Hand Sanitizer — Of course, nothing can really beat scalding hot water and soap. Sometimes, though, you just need something quick. That’s why I keep a pump bottle of this stuff on the kitchen counter whenever someone is under the weather. It serves as a reminder for everyone else that they need to wash up more frequently, too!
Spray Disinfectant — At the end of every day, when the sick kid has gone to bed for the night, I remove the sheet that covers their Island of Wellness. Then I give a really thorough spray down to the whole area. The one we’ve used for years has been discontinued. I can tell you, though, that when it comes time to restock, I’ll be looking for something that says “hospital grade” on the label!
Sambucus Gummies — These are the best tasting elderberry gummies I have found. Elderberry is a natural immune booster and it has worked wonders for us! Whether you take the syrup or pop some gummies, I highly encourage caretakers and well-kids alike to dose themselves with these whenever a family member is down for the count.
So that’s it! That’s the protocol we follow around here.
Well, that and a whole lot of prayer.
What are your best tips for keeping kids healthy in times of sickness? Leave them in the comments here or on the post over on Facebook!
And here’s hoping that you and your family stay happy and healthy this spring.