A parent’s sickness survival guide

We are not a sick house. Me and my husband are pretty resilient to bugs and rarely get really ill.

The most I had ever suffered before having kids was after eating oysters. After three bouts of serious illness that I had blamed on food poisoning initially, I had to accept I’m allergic. I love them so was a bit gutted but it’s better than being allergic to chocolate, that would be a serious issue for me!

But then we had a child. More specifically a child who went to nursery. A work colleague jokingly said “prepare to have a constant cold” after I told them our child would go to nursery when I went back to work. I laughed and shrugged it off, as our toddler had been pretty bug-free her entire first year.

They say most babies will have eight colds in their first year. Ours had one and it didn’t last long. I took her to the GP once over a rash that wouldn’t shift even though it wasn’t even a bad/angry/sore rash. He looked at me like another paranoid mummy but still prescribed us some cream, probably just to get me out the door pronto!

So it came as a massive shock when after starting nursery our toddler began bringing home a steady stream of ailments. We had constant colds, several vomiting bugs and coughs. Our toddler had hand, foot and mouth which was extremely grim for her. We didn’t pick that one up thank goodness but apparently they can get that repeatedly so it’s only a matter of time!

It’s no wonder really that nursery has caused us so much ill health. It’s just a big den of disease where children swap saliva-covered toys and shove food in each other’s mouths.

Doctors say this is all really good for your kids, that they need exposure to germs. I do agree with this concept. But why do I need to be exposed to these germs? And for that matter, why aren’t I already immune to all these germs? I went to school, uni, have used shared workplace keyboards. Surely I’ve built up a stronger tolerance than this?

It really sucks being ill. But it really, really sucks being ill when you have children. I’m lucky we have family nearby and I have been able to pack my toddler off to my parents’ house when things have got really bad.


I hate seeing my child ill. She’s normally such a happy soul so when she’s suffering it’s really noticeable. However we have had very few issues this year and it looks like we have emerged from the first year of nursery with immune systems of steel now, I hope!

But now we’re planning to send our youngest to nursery in January. Surely we’re immune to all the bugs that emerge from that building now? I’m hoping we’re not signed up to climb back on the carousel of colds.

But just in case we have, I have my tried and tested ‘surviving illness with a child’ plan:

  • Netflix is your friend. Get Paw Patrol, Peppa or whatever annoying kids’ show your little one is obsessed with going on TV and leave it there. It’s like a mute button.
  • Make sure you have child-friendly snacks ready to go. Fruit, raisins, muffins. All these will help keep your child quiet. If none of those are cutting it, resort to ice cream and remember this is about survival not keeping the health visitor happy.
  • Have spare batteries at the ready always. There’s nothing worse than having a child screaming “bring the pups back” as you scramble to find batteries to fit the remote when you have a splitting headache.
  • Get your spot for the day ready. This will likely be the sofa. Remember you need a blanket, tissues, loads of water, a can of something fizzy, something to eat if you can stomach it like crackers and a fully charged iPad.
  • Have easy dinners planned. Ideally have a stash of frozen meals you can turn to so when toddler says it’s tea time you can chuck something in the microwave rather than slave over a hot stove.
  • Forget all cleaning and washing. Seriously, it can wait.
  • Remind yourself of all the fun things you did with your children last week and keep telling yourself it’s only one day. Don’t feel guilty for taking your foot off the accelerator so you can recover.


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