Can I get an amen from those mamas out there who’ve already used all their vacation days taking care of sick kids and/or sick selves? While my kids have dodged most of the worst, I’ve already had the respiratory flu plus a weird thing where my lips swelled up like a trashy reality star. But just recently, the unthinkable happened.
Stomach flu. We had stomach flu in our house.
It hit me first, then 24 hours later it got the husband. One kid had one brief puke situation but immediately recovered. But oh, those days right after the sicks began. I was too tired to move and too sick to sleep. I made my husband text me every hour to make sure I was alive because I was so, so sure this was going to be the end of me. Please, I begged this virus. Please stay away from my kids.
In this weakened state, I eventually had to stumble to the pantry to try to recover. At that moment, I realized just how ill-prepared we were to be ill. If you’re fortunate enough to be in parts of the Twin Cities covered by Prime Now, you should be okay. For the rest of us, consider this your doomsday prepper warning. If it hasn’t come to your house yet, the pukepocalypse will come to you soon. Honestly, we all know that if the real zombie apocalypse comes, the infection responsible will have incubated at daycare.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Have these things on hand in your house throughout the sick season. All these things can be kept in the freezer or on the shelf, so you should be able to have them ready to go. Put them on your grocery list now so you can be ready when the inevitable occurs.
- Pedialyte or other electrolyte beverage. While Pedialyte has never tasted right to me, it’s still the best re-hydration option on the shelf. I’m more of a purple Gatorade person myself. You might want to have a few flavors or styles on hand in case your kiddo (okay, you) decide to get fussy.
- Coconut water. Honestly, I think it tastes like sweaty gym shorts. But if you want to keep your electrolytes natural, this is your best bet. Plus, it packs so much vitamin C that maybe you’ll be able to keep away the next bug.
- Tonic water. If you’ve been vomiting, you are going to be a ball of muscle cramps. Tonic water could help, as long as it has quinine in it. Technically, this isn’t a treatment that has any scientific verification, so you might just want to have some on hand to add a little gin or vodka after you’ve been cleaning puke all day.
- BRAT foods. No, not the kind of food you feed to a whiny kid. BRAT stands for banana, rice, applesauce, and toast. These bland, starchy foods help get some calories back into you without upsetting your poor, distraught digestive tract. Bananas won’t keep on the shelf, but you can keep around rice, applesauce, saltines, or whatever flavorless white carbs best appeal to you.
- Popsicles. In the earliest moments post-puke, it’s not even safe to take a full drink of water. Ice chips are a good option, but so are popsicles. They especially help with whatever sour flavor still lingers in your mouth. Minnesotans probably don’t think about popsicles in winter, but trust me, you want a box hiding quietly in the back of the freezer for this very occasion.
- Bone Broth. Okay, go with me on this. You know how you’re supposed to eat chicken soup when you’re sick? That’s because our great-grandmas all made it with bone broth. Bone broth gives you easy-to-digest nutrition as well as good probiotics and immune support. A can of chicken and stars isn’t the same thing. Either learn how to boil down your own bone broth or find a place to buy some. Cook it up with some rice and you’ve got your meal staple for the days post-emesis.
- Kombucha. Now you really think I’m a bit much. But recently, my husband tried making some of his own. He knows I love ginger, so he added some to his homebrew. After our illness, it’s become the one thing that helps settle our stomachs. Maybe it’s the excellent digestive support or ginger’s renowned stomach-settling properties, but it’s been a go-to recovery drink. If you don’t want to make your own, you can find it in the refrigerated section of your grocery. If fizzy, fermented tea seems a bit out there for you, get some herbal tea with ginger and lemon.
- Buckets. If you’re like our house, you’ve got one orange freebie State Fair bucket and that one that the kids constantly swipe and pretend it’s a doll elevator. You will need more than that. Make sure you have at least one bucket per person plus at least one extra. Keep them clean. Keep them accessible. Pray you never need them.
- Something to clean a carpet. Kids don’t make it to the toilet. They never make it to the toilet. You are going to have to clean up after them, and you’re probably going to have to do it when you’re nauseous already. We have a hand-me-down carpet cleaner and it is the greatest appliance known to humanity. However, ample rags, a reliable carpet spray, and an extra bucket will do the trick.
- Something to clean everything else. I’m sure it’s not the most ecologically sound choice, but you better believe I’ve been going through the house twice a day with a bottle of disinfecting wipes. Whatever your tool is, whether essential oils or straight bleach, keep it stocked.
I can’t promise you this list will keep your family healthy, but I can promise you won’t despair quite as much when they go down hard. While my great hope will be for your health through the rest of this crazy season, I’m also a realist. It’s coming for you, too. Learn from my mistakes. And while you’re at it, let me know what things you keep on hand to help recover during and after an illness. After this winter, I think I’m going to need more than a sick pantry. I’m going to need a viral panic room.