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Encouragement Article

Love to Parents with Sick Kids

In my short experience in parenthood, I have been challenged with many situations dealing with my three wonderful, wild, crazy, goofy, awesome, stressing, challenging, and perfect children.

I wanted to reach out to all fathers and parents today on the difficult situation of dealing with sick kids.

I hope you have extra sheets, probiotics, Gatorade-Pedialyte, carpet cleaner, new underwear, multiple boxes of children’s Tylenol, heat blankets for tummies, and vomit buckets handy.

*Disclaimer: Multiple stories of poop and vomit shall be discussed in this article...

There we were, it was July 4th of 2021. My dear brother, his wife and two boys had just gone under a hellish bout of the stomach bug that ravaged their family. Despite ours and their caution, waiting for symptoms to subside prior to my children and her making a visit, the bug was contracted and we brought this fun little pathogen back to our residence.

We spent the entirety of the 4th and then 5th of July with each kid having explosive bouts of diarrhea and intermittent puking. The family camped out in the living room with a marathon of Disney movies. We had a bucket by each kid (for emergency emesis-throwing up-calling dinosaurs-praying to the porcelain goddess), stacks of toilet paper and wipes in the bathroom for excessive rear end management.

Pale little tots sipping chicken noodle soup and Pedialyte popsicles-or fluid mixed in water only to have our hallway, living room floor and beds painted with vomit at random times of the day/night. Mom and dad were not spared by this little bug either. Needless to say our fireworks show was short that year.

This year we were beset with the following; my middle son getting his tonsils out, sinus infections, influenza B, viral colds, COVID, and as my father calls it the “bubbling episodics” (GI problems). We spent a better part of the end of 2022 wrangling a child with a sickness in various forms.

As you all know parenting is a tough job. The stress, the lack of sleep, and the management of our children's minds and bodies doesn’t stop. I feel it is all exacerbated when they are sick. The school schedule is altered. Work, errands, plans all halt or must be shifted. Remember that sleep deprivation you were in? Just add to that with various combinations of your children’s bodily fluids. More laundry, 2 am wake ups with gloves on picking up your child's vomit off the floor. I laugh when my Doctor asks me if I am getting enough sleep, or when someone says “Jerod, you look tired”.

God bless them children but they are living-breathing petri dishes just percolating all sorts of pathogens at all times. Then you come home and they sneeze directly into your eye socket! My wife and I signal the doomsday clock, the betting pool, when a child comes down with a sickness (Disturbed anyone? aka Early 2000’s not good rock band) As we know at some point we will be afflicted by this disorder. Their ability to practice good body hygiene in a sustained manner doesn’t mature until maybe 21 years of age?

How many times have you said as a parent:

“Please don't put that in your mouth.”

“Why did you just wipe your hand (full of snot) on your sibling?”

“Did you wash your hands after you pooped?”

“You put your hand where??!”

Any parent has been there. I salute you all for waging war on our microbial friends while holding your little or big sad child to you. It stinks to be sick. We have had to encourage our kids that it happens to us all, it is a part of life. It is a time when a family bands together to still accomplish the mission of helping each other, and getting through the day.

I give support to any parent that stands against the tide of sick kids. Pulling the hard hours of regular work, home care, kid transportation only to come home and become a medieval serf to a tiny being on the coach that needs more things in an hour's time than a kindergarten classroom.

I struggle with my children at times with the levels of sickness, it is hard to give them sympathy when I just saw them wrestle each other for 20 mins, then only to report their sore tummies at dinner time when it is a vegetable medley. The amount of whining that occurs with sickly children is that of tortuous proportions. I gain excellent counsel from my wife to be more understanding even if their sad little sounds are out of attention seeking, and just feeling crummy.

At times it has been a mind numbing stressor to my wife and I. Many times it stripped all control from us, plans made for months were altered. I was angered at the lack of my ability to really affect the situation. I learned very quickly that me getting angry, losing focus on what my task was, was a detriment to the situation. The situation required me to increase my toughness, improve my attitude, and encourage my family to come together, not pull apart. A positive attitude goes a long way in many tough situations. Our children look to us in these times, give them something morally right to emulate. It will apply to more than just being sick.

To assist my sickness attention allocation. There is a graduated scale of illness response that we use in our house. We will apply the remedies and increasing attention dependent on the kid’s personality change, level of activity participation, fever presence, and amount of bodily fluids exiting their bodies. If all marks are present you will be sure to receive a rapid mom and dad response team with raised sympathy vs drainy nose and not wanting to go to school. Which gains a Kleenex allotment, a hug, and increased hydration recommendation.

As a parent you can tell when your child is truly being affected. Stay attentive, know your parameters of fever severity and time of its presence. If they are not responding to medicine and or are not able to take in nutrients. That's when the rubber usually meets the road and the cavalry may need to be called in( take your child to a medical professional).

It is an unfortunate part of life. It is something to give stress to a family and to the little individuals that share their corn dogs with friends at lunch. I hope and pray your family battle through all following days with minimal hospital trips and overall a batch of kids that build their immunity and come up with a few fun stories that are only fun when you gain twelve months separation from the event.

Wipe the surfaces with Lysol wipes, teach good hand hygiene as repetitive as possible. Semi regular baths are a positive additive. Good sleep and diverse nutrition are helpers to kids' immune systems. Having a trusted pediatrician is a wonderful resource to gauge levels of care when your little one is having a rough go and the home remedies are not cutting it.

Being a parent can be a rough row to hoe, being a parent of a sick child, or children can push your limits even further. Stay that course gents and ladies. It is truly a time that your little ones and big ones need you. Have the Tylenol, crackers, chicken noodle soup, 7up, and a warm couch ready. You can make a hard time better with that positive attitude, love, and a sustained presence. Even if you are asleep on the floor next to your sick sleeping child covered in a spider man blanket.

To all gents (and moms) that have caught vomit in your hands, I salute you!!

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