I am writing today from a place of experience! We have been trudging through these steps of surviving being sick in a large family for three weeks now (and we still have
four children make that two children who haven’t caught the bug yet!!!)
You know the drill. When one person catches a virus, usually at least half of the family ends up affected. Unless it’s the dreaded stomach bug. In our house, if one gets a stomach bug, we all eventually get it!
As with just about anything large family-related, early preparation and a good mindset are the two things that matter most. Let’s go more in depth into exactly what I keep on hand, a few new tips I’ve picked up during our current epidemic, and what to do when it feels like everything is just falling apart (if you stay in a sickness cycle long enough, this will happen!)
Being Sick In A Large Family Tip #1-Stock Up on Supplies
One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that you are prepared for whatever disaster may hit your household.
And let’s get real here…the whole house getting sick has disaster written all over it! 🤣
I keep a stockpile of these sick items in stock at all times. Some of these are 100% necessary, others are comfort measures that can make a big difference in morale. Here’s a running list of supplies that I keep on hand:
- Tylenol and Advil (both liquid and pill form)
- Several bottles of cough medicine (this goes so quickly if you have multiple people sick!)
- My favorite Cough Drops
- Puffs Plus with Lotion
- Saline Nasal Spray
- Sudafed (for daytime)
- Benedryl (for night time)
- Vapo Rub (The Vapo Rub I linked to is amazing! It comes in a roll-on container so you don’t get a goopy mess all over your fingers! 😍)
- Saltines (several boxes)
- Gingerale (several 2 liters)
- Gatorade (2 gallon size!)
- Jell-o (several boxes, plus a few ready-made packs)
- Flat of Canned Chicken Noodle Soup (Thanks for the tip, Large Family Table!)
- 1/2 gallon sized Hand Sanitizer
- Bleach Wipes
- Lysol Room Spray
- At least 4 medium sized stainless steel bowls
I do my best to keep these items in stock at all times. We large families never really know when sickness is going to strike, and the worst case scenario is when it hits Mom and Dad first (meaning, no one can get to the store! eek!).
I really don’t have spare room in my pantry for emergency supplies, so I keep the extra gingerale, gatorade, crackers, jello, etc. in a large rubbermaid tote. We only dip into it when we need it, not when someone gets a case of the munchies.
Being Sick In A Large Family Tip #2- Take It Easy And Slow Down
You know how as a large family mom, your first instinct is to just keep running around, full speed ahead, but if you have a bunch of sick children, you must slow down.
One of the worst things that can happen during a large family outbreak is for mom to catch the virus too. You know, that as the mom, you are the one person who can keep everything running. You are the person your children want comfort from, and you are the person who will be able to tell if a child needs medical attention.
You know your children better than any other person, so for the sake of the whole family, it’s essential that Mom stay well if possible.
If you are running around trying to accomplish all of your normal daily goals, plus take care of sick children, chances are…you’ll end up sick yourself.
Slow down. Spend extra time resting and snuggling. Enjoy some extra hot tea, and extra water throughout the day, and definitely increase your hand washing and hand sanitizing.
Being Sick In A Large Family Tip #3- Adjust Your Expectations
Adjusting your expectations goes hand-in-hand with slowing down. I lower my expectations in three key areas when we are experiencing an outbreak:
These are the three main areas where I dedicate most of my time, so they all have to be dialed back a notch (or two or three!). And I think it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, we cut way back if not stop completely all extracurricular activities.
For housekeeping, I scale way back. I still keep the laundry rolling, even if I don’t get it all folded and put away (this is especially important during a stomach bug!!!). We do our best to keep things picked up, but we aren’t doing the normal heavy-duty cleaning, because we don’t have the whole team on board (Many hands make light work!)
***If we are experiencing a stomach bug, I go to extra lengths to sanitize. This is where the bleach wipes come in. Doorknobs, lightswitches, toilets, sink faucets, and countertops get a daily wipe down.
I cook simple meals, and try to stick more closely to whole foods. We don’t eat a ton of sugar in general, but I do try to lower our intake during illness. I rely heavily on freezer meals during this time.
My large family bestie, Jamerrill, keeps a flat of condensed family sized chicken noodle soup cans on hand for her family, which is just genius! I have since added the soup to my list of things to keep on hand. You can pick up these family sized Great Value brand soups for $1/can. You then add water to it for a total of 1 quart of soup. That’s a great deal!!!
This is NOT gourmet soup, but when you have tons of sickies in the house, and those sickies need soup to get over the hump, this is a fantastic deal!
Homeschooling is the last place where I drastically cut back when we’re all sick. I’ll still have my big kids do math because they work independently, and history because that is done on the computer, and if reading aloud fits into the day, I will do that too. But the rest of the school day is cut. If a lot of the middle to older kids are laying around recovering, I’ll try to find a good history documentary, or put on a good nature show, but that’s the extent of it.
We school year round, so I don’t have to be concerned about missing time here and there when we need a break. It all comes out in the wash and we always stay a little bit ahead.
Being Sick In A Large Family Tip #4- Remember…This Too Shall Pass
When I was a younger mother, sickness in the family was my least favorite part of motherhood.
I would actually take it personally when we got sick, like it was a reflection on MY ability to keep our family well. I spent/wasted so much money on natural remedies, put us on countless crazy diets to try and fortify our immune systems, and just spent a whole lot of time and money being silly.
Here’s the thing though. You can do everything that all sorts of different experts tell you to do…and your children will STILL get sick. YOU will STILL get sick. And its honestly okay. Being sick is uncomfortable, and its an inconvenience (especially when there are bunches of people in the family!) But! It’s just part of life.
I’m speaking to myself here too, I promise! I had a giant pity party about a week ago and was feeling so sorry for myself…which of course did absolutely nothing for anyone and just made me feel immature.
So just remember, mamas…if your family catches a virus, it is not a reflection on YOU. But how you conduct yourself during times of illness IS. As long as you have done your job in teaching your children handwashing techniques and the whole “sneeze in your sleeve” concept…it’s kind of out of your hands.
And please believe me when I say…teaching handwashing and proper sneezing techniques…it’s an ongoing lesson! 😂
So let’s wrap this up…
Mamas, do what you can to be prepared. It will make your job easier. Being prepared for sickness in a large family is so much more than making sure you have elderberry or essential oils on hand. Think broader, and start with the list above.
Don’t kill yourself running around trying to be super mom and upholding the status quo. Slow down, adjust your expectations, and do your best to take care of yourself too. Times of illness end up being so much worse when Mom goes down.
And perhaps most importantly, don’t get bogged down. This too shall pass. You can do this!!!
My only recommendation here is that while I agree you should leave the stockpile for when you need it, swap out the things like crackers every so often. If you’re lucky and don’t get sick and have to use them, the crackers will go stale after a while. It’s happened to me where I was expecting that we had crackers ready to go but when we opened the box we realized they weren’t good any longer. Very frustrating! 🙂