- Family and Parenting
Back to School Means "Germ City".
Baby's First Cold
Welcome Back... Until You're Sick
I was never a really "healthy" person. A person with a cold or flu only had to look at me, and I'd be dying the next day. In my junior year of high school, I had strep for half the year, until I ended up with an abscess behind my tonsils which then lead to my tonsils being taken out which was the last I've ever had strep. It's a little better now, I'm usually the last to get sick but I get sick worse than everyone else. I suppose you can't win them all.
For a while I did very well, but then my oldest started school. Any parent of a school aged child knows the harsh reality of this: your child is bringing more than homework home, they are bringing home every sickness they come across at school. This means they will get sick which means you will also get sick. You can try to avoid it, but it's inevitable and you really have to just stock up on NyQuil and accept your fate. Vitamin C and Nyquil. And a wholesale club sized package of tissues. Puffs, they're easier on the nose. And cough drops. Hell, just buy out the whole cold section because when you have a husband and children that are sick, you can't afford any downtime.
My oldest son had been fighting a cough for a few days, but last night it was so bad he didn't sleep well and ran a low grade fever. My husband tried to quarantine him from our youngest son, since he didn't want the baby to get sick. I laughed, saying "good luck" because if one of them gets it, the whole house is going down in a flood of tissues and snots. It's not an if, it's a "which one will it pick off first until we all fall down". That's life... that's life as a parent anyways. I bet you didn't read that in that parenting manual you didn't get when your children are born: "Congratulations, you expected no sleep but also expect to live the next 18 years in an endless sea of cold and flu and other undesirable viruses".
They say prevention is key. Hah. Try saying that while you're watching one child eat his own boogers while the other is stealing his drink because he wants to drink like a big boy too while sharing his Gerber Cheetos with the dogs. You can try to wash your hands every time you come into contact with your child sneezing on you or smothering you with germ filled kisses but how realistic is that really. In fact, isn't one of the biggest problems we face as a result of over sanitation? People get sick more if they don't develop the immunities to fight any germs they come across which really just exacerbate the problem in the end.
Try as you might to avoid illness, but you should face the facts of parenting: you won't get a good night's sleep for 18 years and you will spend most of those 18 years sick. I say "screw prevention, focus on comfort after the fact" because you won't be able to prevent everything and you will end up with the plague at least once a year. Make the best of it, because there's no sense in being miserable.
Illnesses and You
Just because you can't prevent it, doesn't mean you have go be miserable. Here's some tips and facts to help you through this time.
- The Quarantine. When my husband wanted to quarantine the oldest boy from the baby, I laughed. By the time a person shows symptoms of having a cold, it's already too late. When a person shows symptoms, they have already been exposing others to the disease for a few days. Not only that, quarantining a baby from an illness might help in the short term but you're depriving that child of necessary immunities to help him fight of disease in the future. I'm not saying if you have something more serious like strep that you should spread the wealth, but a cold is just a cold. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger?
- Cold Medicines. Nyquil won't cure the cold. Tylenol won't cure the cold. Orange Juice and Zinc will not cure the cold. There is no cure for it, so man up. Nyquil makes you feel better, Tylenol gets rid of your fever, but you're not going to take a magic pill and be fine. Just enjoy your tea while chasing your children around the house and accept your fate. It's a cold, not the end of the world. No sense crying over it.
- Sleep? One benefit to sick children is they sleep a lot. My oldest son was home from school today and slept until 10 a.m. after I initially woke him up at 7 a.m. for school. When the baby gets sick, he'll cry a lot but in the past he's also just slept through it. Sick children are sleepy children? You don't want to see your children miserable, but everything has a silver lining?
- Illness is inevitable. I keep saying this, but it's true: your child will get a cold and so will you. Adults can, on average, get 2-3 colds a year while children can get about 6-12. This is obviously an average estimate, but you get the point. Don't stress it, and just let your body work its magic.
- Medicines and Vaccinations. Medicines can help with symptoms like fever and body aches, but don't rely on the dosing instructions on the box. The nurses don't mind getting a call to make sure you're providing your child with the proper dosage of medicines. Also, vaccinations are important but don't fall under the false belief that a flu shot will make it so you don't get the flu. There are probably hundreds of different varieties of the flu and the CDC just guesses which ones they think will be the most severe and common. This doesn't mean you shouldn't vaccinate your child, but don't think you're 100% safe from them getting sick.
I hope all this helps you guys and remember to get rest yourself. Stock up on chicken and broth because good ol' chicken soup is good for the soul... and helps your cold from fluids, hot liquids and vitamins.