Updated: Apr 9, 2022
I love September, not just because it’s my birth month, but because the weather starts to change where I live and the temperature outside is just about perfect. I like to do a lot of fall cleaning this month and I made my rather extensive list at the end of August ready to clean my way through September.
All was well. I was chewing through my list at a good clip when September 13th happened. It started with Girl3 not sleeping the night before. She didn't feel feverish but she was thrashing around in her bed all night. On Monday, at almost exactly the same time I got a text from Boy16, a call from the elementary school, and tears from Girl3. The text was about a sore throat, the call was about a fever (102*), and the tears were about an itchy rash on her belly. I called the doctor on the way to pick everyone up early and was able to get an appointment for the next day for all five kiddos. When I picked up Girl12 she told me her throat hurt too so I headed to the store to get supplies. I bought acetaminophen and ibuprofen, soup and juice, lots of cough drops (two kinds—because sick kids are picky), and a box of Emergen-C.
Tuesday found me and five kiddos in a doctor's office. The only one not sick at this point was Boy7 but he came along to get tested for COVID. The nurse swabbed everyone for strep and corona and Dr. S came in to take a look while we waited for test results.
It was surprising. Four cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease (not to be confused with hoof and mouth, which is something that cattle can get) and one case of COVID. The corona case was Boy7. The one with no symptoms.
So my September plan to fall clean my house with the kids at school got thrown out the dirty window. To make matters worse: my husband got HFMD on Thursday. The good news: I didn't get sick at all and neither did Boy7.
My sick kid game plan:
1. Take Emergen-C daily. I take care of myself with rest, naps, and good food because if there's one thing worse than sick kids, it's sick kids AND a sick parent.
2. Relax the screen time limits. We started off with a Harry Potter movie marathon. Audible is good for audiobooks and you can get free books, including audio, with the Libby app and a public library card.
3. Isolate as necessary. Boy16 and Girl12 are fully vaccinated so they could return to school with a negative test five days after contact with Boy7. That meant Boy7 got the boys' room to himself and Boy16 moved out to the living room (I am so glad we decided to get the sleeper sofa option on our new couch).
4. Don't share. The kids with HFMD all spent a few days laying on the couch and I had them bring their bed pillows and blankets to the living room. I washed their pillowcases on day 3 and put their toothbrushes in the dishwasher every day. We keep our cups straight by having a specific one for each person.
5. Find comfort. Everyone had different symptoms so I let the kid guide me. Girl3 seemed to get relief with a daily oatmeal bath. Boy16 lived on applesauce. Girl12 and Girl9 ate a lot of soup. I let them eat when and what they wanted to.
6. Do only the basics. While the kids were sick I did the bare minimum around the house. I ran the dishwasher and did a load of laundry every day. The bathroom is the one place that was very clean all the time. I used Seventh Generation Disinfecting Spray after cleaning the sink and toilet.
7.Know when they are getting better. My kids start playing a little more and weaning themselves off screens when they are starting to feel better. This is when I start getting us back to a normal schedule. I started with meals; everyone eating the same thing at the same time.
We will be fully out of the woods when I drop four kids off at school tomorrow and I find my list under the stack of mail on the piano.