How to survive family outbreaks of cold and flu

Being ill when you have children to parent is tough

What’s worse than feeling poorly? Feeling poorly when you have kids who are also ill.

It’s nothing too serious but when a cold or flu bug takes hold of your home you wish everyone could just look after themselves.

Unfortunately small kids need you even more when they’re poorly. And chances are, if your child was sleeping through the night, being ill will disrupt that lovely pattern. It’s typical that this happens when you’re feeling more tired than ever.

We were all struck down with a nasty cold last week. It lasted for days, included a cough and sore throat, as well as a streaming nose, headache and a feeling of total hopelessness.

I was totally drained of energy and just wanted to hide under my duvet.

But we’ve all survived the experience and this week everyone is back to their usual cheeky selves.

Here are some tips that helped us through it:

Get the right drugs in

My kids love Calpol, their little faces light up when the pink box comes out.

I need to emphasise that they do not have it often at all, it’s just they clearly love the taste. I remember liking it too when I was little.

Try to always have some in just in case and double check the dosage when you have children of different ages. When you’re ill too it can be easy to get mixed up.

Time the doses so that you give Calpol right before bedtime and maximise the chances of a good night’s sleep.

Runny noses are awful for small children because they cannot clear it for themselves.

Try running a very hot shower and standing next to it with your child to take advantage of the steam to clear their sinuses.

Calpol vapour plug in releases lovely decongestant to help ease your child’s bunged up sinuses. It really helped my baby get a good night’s sleep. We tried the saline nose spray but this didn’t seem to help her very much. It didn’t do any harm either though, so I would recommend giving it a try if you’re desperate.

Karvol decongestant capsules are nice and easy to use and cheaper than the plugins. You pop out a capsule, snip it open with scissors and put the contents on a handkerchief, or muslin square. You then place this near where your baby sleeps but not so near their skin comes into contact with the liquid. I tuck mine under a corner of the mattress.

Children’s noses can get very sore from all of the tissues and wiping. Putting a little Vaseline on can help to ease this.

I recommend Day Nurse and Lemsip sachets to help you power through. If you’re still breastfeeding then seek advice on which products are safe as drugs do pass into your milk.

Netflix is your friend

Don’t stress out about too much TV when illness strikes. Camp out on the sofa with blankets and close your eyes for as much time as you can manage.

This may be tough with a clingy baby, so consider setting up a comfy spot on the floor so you can lie close to your baby without having to lift them up.

Fluids for all

Offer babies extra bottles and breastfeeds as well as water at every meal.

Dont worry if your kids aren’t eating much while ill, they will make up for it when they are feeling better again. Do tell your doctor if they aren’t keep fluids down.

Always have a bottle of water on the go for your toddler. And don’t forget yourself!

When you go to bed have water for your children ready by their bedroom doors or on the side so that you don’t have to stumble down to the kitchen in the middle of the night.

Encourage sleep

Consider giving your baby an extra nap as sleep will help them recover. If your baby usually has two hours of awake time, reduce it to 90 minutes.

Try to have power naps yourself wherever you can to aid your own recovery.

Keep an eye on the temperature

Monitor your children’s temperatures. There’s loads of handy thermometers on the market that make this easier.

A child has a fever when their temperature goes over 38C. Call your doctor if your child is under three months.

You should also seek medical advice if a child aged three months to six months has a fever of 39C or more.

A bit of fresh air won’t hurt

You may not feel like it, but a very short walk can be a big help.

Don’t attempt it if you’re feeling really light headed. Remember to wrap you and your kids up warm.

Get a vitamin boost

Eating lots of fruit and vegetables is great for your immune system at any time, but when you’re poorly make sure you’re still eating as well as you can manage.

Your pharmacist can recommend multi-vitamin products that can give you a boost when you’re ill or feeling rundown.

Forget the housework

Rest on the sofa or on the floor on the play mat whenever you can

This can wait a few days, your recovery is more important.

Ready meals only

Don’t start cooking anything complicated. Go for ready meals and soup.

Go to bed early

It can be hard to lose your evenings when you’re a parent. All you want is a bit of grown-up time at the end of a hard day.

However your chances of a speedy recovery are greatly improved if you get more shuteye. So turn off the telly and get some rest.

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How to cope with family outbreaks of cold and flu


How to cope with family outbreaks of cold and flu