I recently wrote a post about being stuck at home in the winter with children who claim to be sick. Now I’d like to explore being stuck at home with children who actually are sick with the dreaded stomach bug.
My oldest brother, who was the first of my siblings to become a parent, once told me that when you are holding your sick child and you can sense that they’ll be tossing their cookies at any moment, you just have to turn them toward your chest and take the hit. I thought he was so noble until years later when he informed me that the reason he did this was so he only had to clean his shirt instead of everything else around him. I thought it was a smart idea, but I’m not that brave.
I remember the first time my oldest child got a stomach bug. He didn’t know what to do because he had never thrown up like that before, and he didn’t understand what was happening. I didn’t know what to do because I couldn’t understand why he was so opposed to throwing up into a bucket, and, instead, wanted to throw up all over himself. And the bed. And the floor. And me.
From then on, the second one of my kids said their tummy hurt, I pulled out every spare towel we had and spread them out in a 10-foot radius around where ever that kid was sitting. I lined the sofa, the floor, pillows, tables – you name it. Then I would get empty buckets and bowls, placing them strategically throughout the house. I could almost hear the theme from the A-Team playing in the background as I worked. (Okay, maybe I would actually hum it to myself.)
If I had the means, I would have covered every surface of the room with plastic tarps like Christian Bale in American Psycho, only less creepy. That is how much I loathe cleaning up vomit from carpeting and upholstery. I did everything in my power to get that kid’s puke to go in some sort of receptacle or on a towel that I could easily rinse and throw in the wash (or, let’s be honest, the garbage).
It does get better as they get older, though, because they are usually able to make it to the bathroom with minimal collateral damage, and they welcome a bucket at their bedside. But the problem with a stomach bug is that it rarely stops with just one member of the family.
I don’t generally consider myself a germaphobe, but once I even get the feeling that one of my kids might have a stomach bug, I may become a little OCD. I wash my hands after touching anything until my hands are raw. I spray Lysol on anything and everything that may have been touched by anyone who may be infected. Then I clean it with a disinfectant wipe for good measure. Our house smells like a hospital by the time I’m done with it.
Every once in a while, these tactics actually help and the stomach bug is contained to just one member of the family. Every other time, the next kid will get sick one week later and the whole process starts again. To be honest though, all that disinfecting is mostly for me, because if there’s one thing I hate more than cleaning up other people’s vomit, it’s vomiting myself.