So I’m talking to my mom (who happens to be a nurse of some kind) Tuesday afternoon on the phone. And I’m getting my usual “talk”about the flu vaccine. I personally since becoming an adult have never gotten the flu vaccine, and have never given it to my children.
I am telling her not to worry about it, the kids are fine, they’ve had a few small colds but nothing serious, blah, blah, blah. I hang up the phone and finish making dinner. We have a couple of guests over, and we’re sitting on the couch playing the ukulele like any other Tuesday evening. When all of a sudden my middle child vomits profusely all over me and the couch, to the absolute horror of my friends sitting next to me who are still playing the ukulele, mouth wide-open.
I instantly start to panic, grab her and run through the house to the only bathroom. I yell over my shoulder that our guests should please go home. So by this point, the couch is covered in vomit and the floors leading from the couch to the bathroom are covered in vomit. I get to the bathroom door and it’s locked. I lock it so that the baby doesn’t put things in the toilet, or play in the toilet water, and or drink the toilet water. So now I am unlocking the door from the outside while the middle child is now vomiting into my clothing and it is dripping down my back and pants, in addition to the vomit that I was already covered in. So by the time the doors open and we’ve made it to the toilet obviously she is done throwing up. I put my daughter down and momentarily freeze in a panic as I think about the absolute destruction of my home and my personal hygiene. I look at my daughter covered in filth and tears, clearly scared and I snap into action soothing her and cleaning the mess. I first strip her down and throw her in the tub. Then I strip off my own clothes leave on my underwear, proceed to clean myself with a washcloth while spraying my child down with the detachable shower sprayer. I have never been more happy to have a detachable shower sprayer than I am at this exact moment. Thankfully my husband has started to clean up the rest of the house. Now I sit by my daughters side and pulled her hair up as she again pukes into the toilet. It is at this exact moment but I think perhaps my mother was right about the flu vaccine. I would repeatedly think this over the next 24 hours as my daughter threw up every hour on the hour from 8 PM until 3 AM, and then my son started vomiting on the hour every hour from 2 AM to 10 AM.
However for some reason this is not the only time I have cleaned up vomit this week. The baby in the middle of the night on Saturday threw up three times on me. My husband didn’t even wake up for any of this. I have had the distinct pleasure this week of repeatedly changing bedding, changing peoples pajamas including my own, and cleaning up vomit in the wee hours of the night alone. I would like to go so far as to venture and say that I have cleaned up a metric shit ton of puke this week. After my middle child’s initial barf fest Tuesday night, last night (Friday) she threw up twice. Both times in the living room. I have been trying to teach her to throw up in the toilet. After I went through the whole speech and explanation of why we throw up in the toilet I asked her
”Where do we throw up?”
She replied with ”The living room”
Oh. My. God.
Given the fact that I am a social therapist and do one-on-one aid for adults with special needs that are not able to meet their own hygiene needs, I am very well-versed in the art of bodily fluids. Before having children I was 100% comfortable in dealing with other peoples feces, urine, boogers, and whatever else might be coming out of a person at any given point in time… except for vomit. If prior to this week I had any residual hangups about vomit I have absolutely been cured of that.
This week I have cleaned puke out of/ off of pretty much all the surfaces of my home. My gift in all of this it to pass on to you is my sage wisdom on how to survive the stomach bug season.
Things you should always have on hand:
• a receptacle that can be vomited into
• waterproof mattress covers on beds at all times
• disinfecting wipes and spray
• lots of extra pillows and blankets
• lots of cleaning rags
• so many saltines
• chamomile tea
• an essential oil spray of your choice to help with the smell till things dry out
• a scrub brush
There are so many other things that could go on this list but these in my humble opinion are the essentials.
• First things first. If you find yourself covered in vomit, take your clothes off and tidy yourself a little before attending to the needs of others. It’s like on an airplane when the oxygen masks come down, help yourself before you help your kids.
• If you have hardwood floors as I do, vomit will get in between the boards. Have a designated long-handled scrub brush just for this. The long handle makes it easier to angle and get into the cracks. This tip works for anything with grooves as well.
• If a child gets sick in bed simply pull up the four corners of the fitted sheet, and grab them, pick them up like a little hobo bag and put them into the washer. This way you do not have to touch the individual blankets and make a bigger mess.
• If someone vomits on the couch recommend picking up the whole cushion and bringing it to the tub. Turn on the shower, and spray off excess gross stuff. Then treat with a cleaner. I put my cushions close to the heater to dry them faster.
• When cleaning up copious amounts of puke, I get my mop bucket and a pile of dry rags. I use the rags to clean up the mess. Then I go to the bathtub, turn on the water all the way, and fill the bucket. The pressure cleans most of the gunk off the rags which I can then wring out and put in the washer and then dump the bucket of water down the toilet.
• When stripping children of puke covered clothes I roll their shirts up before pulling them overhead. This limits the amount of gross that grab on to their hair. The same principle with pants, I roll them down. This technique also helps to make sure you don’t get more puke around the house.
Tending to the emotional needs:
• I make my children like warm chamomile tea as it with helps calm an upset stomach but more importantly help calm an upset child. Don’t nobody like to puke. I should say I do this for adults also.
• I will use lavender essential oil to help calm nerves. This could be done in a diffuser, on a pillow or dabbed on the wrists.
• I always offer to rub shoulders or feet. There is no better salve than human touch.