Today I'll be sharing tips for managing your home once sick season has struck and illness has started to spread through your family. If you have avoided illness so far and are looking for tips to stay well, be sure to check out the first post in this series here.
Large families and illness don't go together very well. I mean, no family loves passing around sickness. But throw in a good stomach bug or the flu, and a larger family can pass around sickness for a month at a time without relent.
In our family, we have had some winters when we never got sick even once. And then we have other winters where we just can't come up for air. Last winter--well, last December--was one of those months.
I had great plans for our December. Our homeschool co-op ended early in the month, and the rest of the weeks were going to be filled with ornament making, baking, and service projects. But instead, it was the year we almost canceled celebrating Christmas. For four straight weeks, we passed around a really horrible virus that I thought was going to get my son with Down syndrome hospitalized.
Then I got strep. My body doesn't like strep. Like, not at all! I've been hospitalized with it before. It's not pretty. Oh, and then we got a stomach bug. It just seemed like once our immune systems were weak, that we couldn't get over the hump to recover.
I know every large family goes through seasons like that. My hope for this post is to give you some ideas of how to fight illness well once it's made a visit to your home. But also, if you'd like to share or receive some advice on what to do when you, my dear Large Flock Momma, also become sick, come join us over on the Big Flock Mommas group.
1. Build An Arsenal Ahead of Time
There's nothing worse than being completely unprepared when sudden illness hits (it usually happens in the middle of the night, doesn't it?!) Go ahead and build up your stockpile of sickness items now so you'll have them when you need them. I usually keep them in a separate cabinet so the kids don't get into them.
What needs to go in your arsenal? Think about the different illnesses your family typically faces and make a list of the items you would need. For example, for a stomach virus, you'd probably want electrolyte fluids, plastic table cloths for covering floors around beds, crackers, rubber gloves and paper towels for clean up, rags to scrub the toilet, etc.
For a respiratory bug, you'll probably want things like cough drops, a thermometer, hot tea, raw honey, pain reliever, and more. Each family has its different needs, so just make a list of what your family would need and then stock up! The next time you wake up to the sound of vomiting children in the middle of the night, you'll have exactly what you need as you drag your groggy self out of bed.
2. Elderberry Is Your Friend
When the flu or viruses strike, taking elderberry syrup can really help to end the symptoms more quickly. In fact, studies show that elderberry is more effective for ending the flu than Tamiflu. Elderberry syrup is a power anti-viral, and when my kids get sick with a virus, I start taking the syrup regularly. And then I take bigger doses when I actually get sick.
There are several different ways to take elderberry. You can buy pre-made syrups and lozenges. I frequently buy this brand. It tastes decent and seems to be quite potent. My one complaint is that a bottle doesn't last very long in a big family. And it can be quite expensive.
So I recommend making your own syrup. Dried elderberries are easy to acquire online, and there are myriad recipes out there, so you can make syrup to your own liking. You can add other spices to it, such as cinnamon, to add to the medicinal properties. Just be aware, that it is contraindicated with some autoimmune diseases, so as always, do your research with any supplements to see if it is a good fit for you.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Quarantine
Most of the moms in the Big Flock Mommas group practice quarantining when their children get sick. I'm going to assume that you teach your kids to regularly hand wash to prevent the spread of germs. But our family still definitely quarantines sick children because honestly, I don't trust my kids to wash their hands well enough. Let me run through how we quarantine at our home.
If a child has an illness (other than a stomach bug), I make them stay in their bed. I have multiple children sleeping in each room, so I make sure they stay in their bed so they don't touch all over their room. And then I am the only one allowed to have contact with the child. I usually wear a mask. But I take them their drinks and food. And I make sure that when they are done eating that I personally wash their dishes. And of course I scrub my hands after each contact.
When the sick child needs to use the restroom, I make sure to go in immediately after they have finished and wipe down all the surfaces that they touched. I personally use Norwex cloths for this purpose. Lots of wiping!!
One of the mommas in Big Flock Mommas quarantines her children to the bathroom if they have a stomach bug. She makes them comfortable, but I can definitely see how it would be easier to clean a bathroom after a stomach bug!
By enforcing a quarantine, we usually can keep serious viruses and strep down to just 1 or 2 children rather than spreading like wildfire throughout the house.
4. Wipe, Wipe, Wipe!
In the first part of this series, I encouraged you to religiously wipe down commonly touched surfaces in your home to prevent infection. But if sickness has already come to your home, it's time to wipe all the time. Seriously, I have been known to carry my Envirocloth with me and just wipe as I go.
Wipe faucets, toilet handles, light switches. But also wipe chairs, tables, computer keyboards....anything that could have been recently touched! It may seem tedious, but it's a lot less work than having to take care of an entire flock of sick kids! Plus, this is a chore that you can easily train your kids to help you with.
5. Supplements and Oils
When illness is going around, it's a good time to increase your supplements. You can bump up your dose of Vitamin C. In fact, some of the mommas in my group swear by this.
Also, add in a good probiotic if you haven't already. Your immune system starts in your gut, so addressing gut health with certainly help. Plus, being on a good probiotic is essential if you are put on antibiotics for something like strep.
Another item to add into your repertoire, although not technically a supplement, is bone broth. I mentioned in my last post where you can buy bone broth if you don't have any already made. The collagen and gelatin in the broth helps your body repair itself. And it's very soothing on a sore throat, and gentle on a sour stomach.
We also keep a stock of essential oils around our home. I stock up each fall on all our favorites. Long gone are the days when my husband thought they were snake oil. Ha! Now he personally requests certain oils. We have seen the power of essential oils during sickness, and I never want to go without. We usually stock up on the oils that have antibacterial properties, as well as the respiratory oils such as eucalyptus and myrtle. And most companies have an oil blend for sick tummies that I swear by.
6. Witch's Brew
This one makes me laugh. When my dear friend Angie was pregnant, she had a terrible cough and couldn't take regular cough medicines. So I whipped her up a batch of my special cough medicine. She called it Witch's Brew, and the name kind of stuck.
I always keep a jar of my homemade cough syrup on hand during the winter. I simply have never found anything over the counter to be as effective. Plus, if you have something like high blood pressure, you probably can't take cough medicine anyway.
It's a very simple recipe--just raw white onions and raw honey. But both ingredients have powerful properties to fight infection. Raw honey is a natural antimicrobial, and onions are loaded with Quercetin, which is excellent for immune systems. Combined, they knock out a cough.
Here's a recipe for how to make it quickly if you are in a pinch. If you aren't yet sick, I recommend just pouring the honey over raw onions and letting it steep in the jar without any heat. But certainly, if you want to heat it up, you can. I just like to keep the enzyme properties of the raw honey intact.
Hopefully with all these tips, your family will be quickly on the way to health! So grab those gloves, wipes, and supplements and arm yourselves for sick season!
What can you stock up on before sick season hits your home? Is there something new you'd like to try?
Still Putting Off the Seasonal Clothing Swap?
I get it! Swapping out your kids' clothes each season is hard work! Don't put it off any longer. Rather, make this the year that you finally get everything organized. I've put together a step by step system that has helped me cut down the time I spend on seasonal clothing swaps by half. Plus, I've included some printables to make life easier. Grab yours for free today as my gift to you, fellow Large Flock Momma!