An uninvited house guest; surviving a stomach bug

I doubt there are many parents who have dodged the bullet of a contagious stomach bug at some point. Thanks to playgroups, nurseries and schools, these little pests can turn up when least expected and spread like wildfire through the family. Hurrah.

There isn’t much that can be done in these situations other than to accept the card you have been dealt, ride the storm and wait for calmer seas on the horizon. As a parent, it comes with the territory so put your squeamish ways aside, get those sleeves rolled up and accept what’s coming to you.

Domino effect

Like any contagious illness, you can bet your bottom dollar the whole family will go down one by one. Starting with the source (most likely to be your school aged child), followed by Mum (occupational hazard when rinsing sicky sheets), then siblings, and then Dad (for when you have absolutely no patience left, sorry darl). When kisses and cuddles are the order of the day it’s best to just accept your fate and brace yourself.

I am not even joking about this, but in our current state of vom fest even our cat was sick all over the carpet.

The best laid plans

Our latest bout of lurgy happened to fall on a weekend we had no plans at all, which in itself is a minor miracle. No kids party, no night out and no family get together. It’s unheard of. Nonetheless, there were still plans that were scuppered into the start of the next week; swimming lessons, play dates, school runs. We did have a brief moment when we all seemed clear and as I declared the cabin fever over and mentioned going out. On other occasions we have had to cry off major events which can suck big time, but it is just one of those things – may as well just lock the doors and try to get in the right frame of mind for some fam-time.

Break the rules

If you’re normally a parent who prefers screen free fun, and times the iPad sessions, then it might be worth putting those techniques temporarily on hold. Long days at home laying on the sofa means endless kids TV and Disney movies; ain’t no poorly kiddo gonna be up for a game of twister.

Same goes for the purists of kids nutrition. If all you can get in your child is a beaker of squash and half a rich tea biscuit, this isn’t any time to be worrying about their five a day. You know yourself that when you’re feeling rough (ahem, hungover), sometimes all you need is a bag of hula hoops to graze on all day.

Damage limitation

One of my favourite Mum tips in these situations is major usage of old towels…lay them on pillows, on the sofa, around the kids. They seem to be petrified of a sick bowl but the comfort of a towel means the offensive biohaz can be whisked away quickly without destroying all your soft furnishings in the process. Think hand towels rather than bath sheets; they wash and dry a darn sight quicker than sofa covers and bedsheets, plus if you’re anything like us, you’ll run out of clean bedding far quicker than you will old towels (it’s so much easier to switch clean in the night too).

clean, cleaning, funny

Whilst Daddy meant well snuggling you up in his enormous dressing gown post-vom, all I could think of was the size of my growing laundry mountain. Even in these situations, it pays to be practical.

Prevention is better than cure

I’m not entirely sure prevention is even possible in these scenarios, but there certainly isn’t any cure so it’s worth a try! You can’t have enough disinfectant on the go – sprays, wipes, in laundry, hand washes and gels. Clean the loo and use gloves if needs be. Wipe down every contaminated surface and get all soiled clothes out of the way ASAP.

Encourage everyone in the house to have exceptional hand hygiene – the perfect time to remember exactly why!

Avoid stomach curdling food and drink – save yourself the effort of cooking by just giving plain, bland items like toast, and as they recover, whatever they fancy to build their energy back up. In my book, if a child that hasn’t eaten for days wants ice cream, then that’s fine with me (as long as you’re sure the vomiting has passed).

We’re all different

Everyone’s body copes differently with these bugs – symptoms may vary and severity too. I know I definitely had the latest bug but I was never sick. Tigs was sick just once, on several occasions days apart, and the poor mouse couldn’t keep down anything for 36 hours. The cat? I think she just felt left out…

If symptoms present differently or less severe in siblings, it could well still be the same bug.

Making a call

The general rule for most schools and nurseries is to stay away for 48 hours since the last episode of sickness. I thought my days of dilemma about making the sick call were long gone, but it’s a difficult call to make when the sickness has been mild.

After all, most schools are hot on attendance, and if your child was just sick once, and they seem fine, is it wrong to keep them home? Missing valuable school and driving you up the wall totally healthy and fine at home? For working parents this is an even harder call to make, when work and childcare means it’s a total nightmare to have unplanned sickness.

I messaged all of my Mum friends with my ‘what would you do’ dilemma; most (nearly all) said they’d send her in, but maybe a bit of instinct kicked in and I called the school – to which they advised keeping her off for 2 days. Whilst we felt a little fraudulent playing in the garden 36 hours later, the day she returned to school she did in fact have a second bout of vomiting and diarrhea; so maybe that 48 hour rule wasn’t so daft after all.

48 hours later

The 48 hours rule is in place to stop infectious bugs spreading to other kids, and other families. This applies to clubs, swimming pools, playgroups and nurseries too. Be considerate – you don’t know who has a newborn at home, an immuno-suppressed family member, someone being treated for cancer, or a pregnant woman. See the bigger picture; Spread the love, not the germs.

Call in the favours

This is the perfect time to reach out to that network you’ve been busy building at the playgroup or playground. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – that Mum that lives around the corner really won’t mind taking your kid to school whilst you mind the poorly tot. Call and ask relative to pop over with supplies. Don’t struggle alone – people want to help and it will build a sense of togetherness you can share into the future; help each other out.

Best friends

The thing with vomiting, is that it goes hand in hand with fever, and diarrhea. Such a happy little trio. Whether it’s the fever causing the sickness, or the sickness causing the fever is irrelevant…keep an eye on your little one’s temperature with a digital ear thermometer (best Mum kit you’ll ever own) and administer paracetamol or ibuprofen (or both) to manage their temperature. We’ve had a couple and I can highly recommend this one by Braun which is the same one I spotted in my GP surgery:

Sickness and diarrhea can lead to dehydration so keep offering water, and if needed, dioralyte; even if it comes back up. Seek medical advice by calling your GP or NHS 111 if ever concerned that things have taken a step too far; trust your instincts and never worry that you’re wasting anyone’s time.

Every cloud

By the end of your ten days or so of sickness working it’s way through everybody, you will

a) Feel like Super Mum (or Dad)

b) Realise the love for your kids knows no limits

c) Be desperate to all get back to school / work / nursery /anywhere

d) Want to hug the first other person you see

Be strong my friend, nothing lasts forever…

x MMT

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. If you purchase the items I reccommend I will receive a teeny piece of commission. All opinions are my own.

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26 thoughts on “An uninvited house guest; surviving a stomach bug

  1. a positive parent Reply

    #DreamTeam agreed all rules, limits and boundaries just need to be let go when you or the kids have a tummy bug or it makes it harder!

  2. RawMum Reply

    Eww. This is going to be an uphill struggle. If the cat throws up, I throw up much learning to be done! #dreamteam

  3. ljdove23 Reply

    Oh no!! There is nothing worse than a sickness bug! Great advice though, touch wood we haven’t had one for a while because when we do, all six of us usually end up with it and there really is nothing worse!!! #triumphanttales

  4. dairyfreebabyandme Reply

    A few things I’d add:

    1. Bugs cannot all be killed by alcohol wipes. The only way to be sure is to use bleach and wash everything at a really high temp (60 kills the bugs) and to wash hands thoroughly.

    2. Equip yourself with disposable gloves – not green but an extremely effective barrier method (take them off by turning inside out), when handling sick bucket/bedding etc. I have a friend who even covers the carpet with plastic sheeting!!

    3. Try to keep the sick individual to one room/bed/bathroom, if you can, to prevent the spread of infection – norovirus bacteria can remain active on hard surfaces for up to three weeks.

    4. The 48hr rule is meant to prevent infection spreading – it can remain on the skin for up to 48 hours, some even say longer. Your kid might be over it, but still capable of spreading infection to others. That said, last sick bug my kid had she was sick again after three days clear, but that is unusual.

    5. Always line the bed mattress before you stick sheets on top – last thing you want to be doing is cleaning the mattress too – it don’t fit in the washing machine!

  5. stressymama Reply

    Great advice. My daughter has just had a sickness bug. She suffered really bad with it the poor little thing. All better now though. Shes had chicken pox and a stomach bug so far this year… I guess thats nurseries for you.. #TriumphantTales

  6. Something About Baby Reply

    We have also just gone through this and it was awful – baby went down first, then mum, then dad, then just as mum thought she was better, it struck again!! As much as I hated it, I had to take a week off work in the end. It’s so hard trying to stop it spreading when you’re all ill and the last thing you want to do it clean your house but needs must! Hope you are all over it now and the bug stays away for a very long time #DreamTeam

  7. Nicole Reply

    Some great tips here Sarah. It is inevitable, and not much can be done, except ride out the storm as best you can. And rejoice in feeling like supermum once its passed…
    #coolmumclub

  8. Life Love and Dirty Dishes Reply

    It’s bad enough being sick yourself, but when you have to deal with others throwing up too. Blerugh. What really winds me up at school is when parents bring the kids back after 24 hours. I saw my sons year R teacher the other day and she only had 8 kids in her class that day because of a bug doing the rounds. #CoolMumsClub

  9. beautybabyandme Reply

    I really felt for you last week seeing what you dealing with! Josh had a sick bug a few weeks back and it’s hideous!!! I hope everyone is on the mend. God Bless anti bacterial wipes!!!!!!!!! xx #coolmumclub

  10. Pass the wine please Reply

    It’s the worst – we all went away for Christmas last year and every single child in the family caught a vomitting bug – such fun on Xmas day! #Coolmumclub

  11. motherhoodtherealdeal Reply

    Sickness bugs are totes the worse but you are clearly a pro at dealing with them after the last week as some fab advice here. Sending lots of #coolmumclub wellness vibes xoxo

  12. tinmccarthy Reply

    so this is the worst when you have a big family- weeks and weeks of domino effect sickness!

  13. Laura Beresford Reply

    We are so lucky that my 3 have NEVER had a tummy bug! Fingers crossed, touch wood… I’m absolutely dreading it: I had repeated tummy bugs in the 9 months after having my daughter, not pleasant trying to breastfeed when you want to run the bathroom! #coolmumclub

  14. mums army Reply

    Ah yes the dreaded sickness bug! With 2 young ones in nursery we had this pretty much non-stop towards the end of last year. I ended up taking so much time off work through being sick I ended up in the top 10 worst staff sickness records which i was a bit upset about as it was something totally out of my control. I have a stash of old towels and bowls ready to grab when needed. Like you say prevention is better than cure so I try to be as pro-active as possible. xx #coolmumclub

  15. Rhyming with Wine Reply

    Oh hon I feel your pain. There is nothing worse! Having to clean up after sickly offspring is hideous at the bet of times, but when you’re ill too! Gah! My eldest is such a sicky tot and barely goes more than a month without some sort of digestive pyrotechnics. We keep old towels and a washing up bowl under her bed at all times that can be pulled out in an instant, thus transforming her room into a sick proof zone. So pleased you’re all on the mend now. Lots of cake to catch up. x #coolmumclub

  16. Susie / S.H.I.T. Reply

    Ah yes the domino effect – it’s the waiting game to see who will be next. I find as long as it’s not Mr S.H.I.T. then we can all cope, but when he gets struck down, omg, it’s casualty. Nobody has ever had it as bad as him! #coolmumclub

  17. For the love of jars Reply

    I feel a bit queezy now after reading that! We have managed to avoid this bug (touch wood!) and although my daughter had a few days off school with a nasty cough we have so far escaped the bug season (touching wood and holding on for dear life!!). Reading this did remind me of an exorcist moment we had a few years back when my 14 year old step son came home after being out with friends. I had just served up a roast chicken dinner and we were all sitting down to eat when I noticed he looked a bit peaky. I asked if he was ok and he said ‘yes fine!’. So we carried on eating. About 10 seconds later he stood up and projectile vomited over the entire kitchen table full of food!!! He was 14 – there was a lot of vomit! Arggh! #coolmumclub

  18. justsayingmum Reply

    Oh you poor loves! But that 48 hr rule has to stay in place – hospitals during major outbreaks take it up to 72 hours. Baton down the hatches and enjoy not having to go anywhere for a few days once the sickness passes!! Hopefully you won’t have to endure it again but if you do you’ll be a pro! #CoolMumClub

  19. mommyandrory Reply

    If only I’d read this post a week ago!! We had our very first sickness bug 2 months after starting nursery. Trying to get your toddler to vomit in a bucket is pretty much impossible! Laying old towels on the sofa would have been a better alternative that catching it in my hands!! #coolmumclub

  20. Helena Reply

    Oh no not you as well. We had a bug around Christmas that saw us topple like dominoes too! #coolmumclub

  21. Jakijellz Reply

    Great tips! There really is nothing worse and on top of dealing with the sickness it’s so hard looking after little ones when you’re not well yourself – it’s bad enough with a cold virus, which I’ve had over the last week! Thanks for sharing this with #TriumphantTales 🙂

  22. Mum in Brum Reply

    urgh it sounds like you had it so bad! Cannot believe even the cat got sick…great tips though – you really do just need to bed in for a few days/ however long you need to and succumb to your fate. I know 26 episodes of Peppa Pig off by heart after Taylor had the pox last week…She brought home a sickness bug a few weeks ago and I actually had a few days on the sofa by myself when it was my turn – I secretly enjoyed it despite the puking!! 😉 Hope you’re all feeling better now xx #coolmumclub

  23. Mrs Mummy Harris Reply

    I think I may jinx this, but touch wood we’ve passed the bug for now! Now its wondering if Ben suffers from hayfever like Hubby and if so its gonna be a nightmare!
    I do agree with the whole let them get away with things they normally couldnt and to ensure there are enough resources to hand to aid the patient and/or parents struggling to keep their patience!
    Thank you for linking up to #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you again tomorrow!

  24. Annette, 3 Little Buttons Reply

    Oh gawd, the awful stomach bug! We are so lucky we hardly ever get this. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time. But colds… bleurgh… there’s one hiding round every corner. Thank goodness for towels. They are my lifesavers too. Thank you for sharing with the #DreamTeam x

  25. Autumn's Mummy Reply

    I am not looking forward to our first sickness bug at all! I had no idea they could come in bouts like that. Nasty things! #CoolMumClub

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