One of the more startling realities for me as a mother is the fact that colds can cause a baby or toddler to vomit. I never knew this, of course, and when my daughters were in day care from 4 months to 10 months, we had our share of colds, vomiting episodes and sleepless nights.
Ultimately, between that and the high cost of two infants in day care, I quit working.
But in less than two weeks, I will return to work, and my daughters, now 2.5, will return to day care.
This week, we are facing the music, again. One has a cold. She is the vomiter. She is the bad sleeper because a single drip of the nose means we have to wipe it for her — with a new tissue, not an old one.
I’ve come a very long way since those early months of two infants with colds. I know how to clean up vomit (quickly as possible, especially when it’s on carpet or else it will turn moldy) and how to effectively prevent as much night-time stuffiness as possible.
I can’t think of anything harder for parents of multiples than when their kids are sick either at the same time or consecutively.
Here’s how we cope but please offer your own ways in the comments:
THE COLD REMEDIES: Since kids this age can’t take any medications and studies are proving time and again that those medications do not work anyway, what’s a family who needs sleep do? Vicks Vapor bath, saline drops and dehumidifiers are the best solution. First, the bath in a nice warm, steamy room, if possible, then the drops. Let the drops sit back in the nose as long as possible while the baby is laying down. I know, harder than it sounds. Then, run the dehumidifier. We have found that chronic vomiting is only worsened by suctioning out the nose, but we do do that when their bellies are empty, like after a nap.
TAKE TURNS: I can’t imagine having a husband who feels that his out-of-the-house job is so hard that he can’t possibly miss an hour or two of sleep. In our house, since Day One, we’ve taken turns with night wake-ups realizing that both jobs’ are hard.
LET GO OF THE RULES: As the girls have gotten older, we’ve turned sick days into times to lay around, watch movies and play quietly together. Pillows, blankets and snuggling all day, in every room. As infants, we would just put them in the car for day trips to help them nap since crib sleeping was nearly impossible.
GO WITH THE FLOW: It’s not easy when one wants to nap and the other doesn’t. Those kinds of days call for easy-going parenting — the kind where you just bring a stack of magazines to the couch and plan for that being your day’s to-do list. Practice finding ways to get your toddler or two looking for fun, inspirational pictures in those magazines. Have them put stickers on your body as you lay down and rest your eyes. Find unconventional ways to pass the long hours of no breaks with easy, relaxing fun.
KNOW IT’S A PHASE: There is usually a lot of crying when multiples get sick. That’s when I have to remind myself that this is just temporary; it’s just a few days out of our life together. It won’t always be like this. Like most things, it’s just a phase. Relax. Breathe.
Oh, and go to bed early during this phase. How about you? Any sick days coping mechanisms to pass along?