Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quarantined - 5 Simple Ways to Survive Sick Days Stuck at Home with Kids

I figure you can tell a lot about a mom by the way she responds when a pacifier falls on the ground.

Does she:

A. Assess the terrain where the pacifier landed and do a quick mental calculation of the contamination risk. Landing zone gets a rating on a scale of Freshly Vacuumed Carpet at the Clean Friend's House all the way up to Smokers Lounge and Dog Park at the County Fairgrounds. Responds accordingly.

B. Immediately pull her travel-sized haz-mat suit out of her Lily Jade diaper bag and fly into action, calling for boiling water, hot towels, and sterilized tweezers.

C. Pick up the paci and quickly expel two puffs of air to blow off any large debris, followed by a quick rinse with a faucet (if one is nearby) before popping it back in baby's mouth.

I was always a C Mom with my kids. If that paci dropped, I would grab it, quickly brush it off and pop it right back in. My kids were really pretty healthy as little ones, unless you count that unfortunate staph infection incident, but that had nothing to do with pacifiers and everything to do with a skinned knee and a strong-willed child.

But sometimes, no matter how much we try to do everything right, they get sick. In our case, it was our nanny who dropped a viral bomb on our house that shook up our lives for a few days.

It all started on a Monday afternoon when she texted me to let me know she had a nasty cough and wouldn't be able to come watch the boys the next day because she was going in to the doctor about it. Naturally, I was grateful. My boys had already been coughing pretty good for a couple days, so I certainly didn't need it to get any worse. Evan took a personal day and stayed home with the two younger ones so I could go in to the office.

Thursday rolled around and Nanny texted me again and this time things got a bit more serious.

She had tested positive for pertussis - whooping cough.

Next thing you know, I have people calling me from the health department wanting to know exactly when my kids started coughing, where they go to school, how old they are, where they've been in the last week, how much contact they have with Nanny, and every little detail. We were told we had to keep them all out of school on Friday and to bring them in to be tested. So, I stayed home from work on Friday and had to bring all three to a side entrance at the clinic for their test.

I told them they were spies who were going in a secret entrance, so they had to wear a disguise. It was the only way I could get Thomas to keep the mask on. After they got checked out and their noses got swabbed, we made our way back down the hall to our side door. One little boy caught a glimpse of my masked men as they walked by and turned to his Daddy saying, "Look Daddy! NINJAS!!!"

Made my kids' day.

So we had to keep them quarantined all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Test results weren't scheduled to come back until Monday afternoon, so even though they started on an antibiotic treatment right away, they weren't allowed to have contact with anyone outside our house until we knew for sure if they were positive or negative for pertussis.

I went back to work during the day back in August, so it's been some time since I've had this many full days home alone with all three boys!  They did start to drive me a bit stir-crazy from time to time, but I think we had a good time overall.

Here's how we survived our Quarantine Days at home, y'all.  All packaged up into a nice, neat little list.

1. Provide Dinner and a Show

Look, I know I'm going to catch a little flack for this one, but I am going to be the first to admit that I am not above using the television to keep the kids entertained and corralled in one general area for a short period of time, especially on sick days when they've been TOGETHER CONSTANTLY and are starting to show a little wear around the edges. To make sure I don't feel like a total failure, I like to throw a blanket on the ground and have them eat lunch on it. Call it a "picnic" and suddenly you're a Supermom rather than just the mom who wanted a little peace and quiet for a few minutes.

Bonus points for wearing rollerblades.

2. Dangerous Activities

Lest you think I just plunk my kids in front of the TV all day and retreat to my chaise lounge to drink wine and read trashy novels, I give you the following suggestion - do something (kinda) dangerous! Rollerskate in the house! In pajamas!

Put a bouncy castle in your basement and let your little monsters bounce and flip and flop on one another until someone inevitably starts screaming. It is downright hilarious to watch the boys play these crazy games they've invented for the Bounce House. On Monday afternoon, they made it through two rounds of "Dead Man" and a session of TurboKick Aerobics by Isaiah before Micah was over it and stomped upstairs. They were red-faced and exhausted. Excellent.

3. Read Slightly Inappropriate Books

Fine, fine. Reading ANY books would work just as well here, but there is a wicked side of me that was just tickled when Isaiah brought home these books from the library and would up paging through them while we were stuck at home. I guess it would have been a teeny bit more morbidly inappropriate if they had been books about the Black Plague, but the Disasters book did include a chapter about smallpox, so it totally counts.

4. Play Games and Break the Rules

Raise your hand if you have a rule-follower in your crew. My oldest, the one in the neon shirt in the photo above, is such a rigid rule kid that it sometimes makes me batty. He absolutely MUST follow every rule to the letter, as long as it means HE comes out the winner, of course. You can only imagine the devious fun I had busting out the Scrabble board for them, only to tell my poor child that we were not going to keep score in any way and that he and his brothers could put letters on the board however they wanted. I started them off with the word "MINION" and helped them come up with a few legit words before I stepped away to let them run amok.

5. Make an Enormous Mess

I had gone to my room for a few minutes to try to get some work done (translation: I was checking email and probably scrolling through Pinterest) when one kid blundered in with a tube of paint, asking if I could help him open it. My immediate response was to say, "No freaking way," but I stopped myself and followed him back out the kitchen.

The entire art tub had been emptied all over the kitchen table. Papers were strewn about and other tubes of paint had already been opened. Fingers were already smearing into said paint. Anarchy. Utter anarchy.

And three grinning faces.

So, I let it happen. I opened the paint and let the mess happen. And they loved it.

They also loved it when I let them bring every stuffed animal, blanket, and pillow we own up onto my bed where they wrestled and kicked one another while playing a rousing game of "Saber Tooth Tiger." This eventually stressed me out enough that I had to kick them out and clean it up before I got a migraine, but it was fun while it lasted. The good news is that we got word that all three tested negative for pertussis, so we were officially in the clear!

I think everyone is good and ready to get back to our normal routines of school and work, but we did get to enjoy being even crazier than usual for a few days. What fun sick day strategies do you turn to at times like this?

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