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Sick season started at our house this week, with two of the kids coming down with a stomach bug. Being sick (and cleaning up after sick kids) is never fun, but after nearly ten years of tackling sick season, it doesn’t leave us nearly as frantic as it used to. I’ve seen it all from seal-barking coughs, to projectile vomiting from the top bunk (sorry about that), to strange rashes, and even RSV. As a mama of four, I think I’ve earned my taking-care-of-sick-kiddos badge. Here are five of my best tips to help you survive the sick season (which hopefully won’t begin at your house anytime soon):

1. Stay calm. It’s really easy to freak out when one of your kids comes down with a mysterious fever/cough/stomach bug. But the more anxious you get, the worse they’ll feel. The best thing you can do is soothe and hold your little one. Sometimes all they need is your calming presence to help settle back to sleep in the middle of the night (when little ones so often get sick). And keeping your head will help you figure out just what to do to help them get better faster.

2. Stock up. Head to the store now for some basic supplies to make things easier (and before you’re stuck at home playing nurse). I recommend having children’s acetaminophen/ibuprofen, saltine crackers, chicken noodle soup, and electrolyte drinks.

3. Seek the right help. Some illnesses require immediate attention. If you’re child has a sky-high fever that won’t come down, you need to make a run to the ER. But more often than not, most illnesses can be treated safely at home.

If I’m unsure of how to handle a certain symptom I check out a child’s healthcare book in our home library first. If that doesn’t help/reassure me, and if it’s after-hours, I’ll call our local Call-A-Nurse service provided by one of the local hospitals. I usually try to avoid the doctor’s office unless it’s something that’s been around for a few days, and/or my motherly intuition says something just isn’t right.

4. Scrub the house down. I don’t mean you have to deep-clean every nook and cranny, but wiping down the things everyone touches day-to-day will go a long way. I wouldn’t recommend this on a regular basis, but a quick wipe with rubbing alcohol over door handles, faucets, drawer pulls, toilet handles, and remote controls will help keep the germs down. Stay away from antibacterial hand soaps though, these kill off good bacteria and actually allow bad germs to spread faster.

5. Stay positive and stay healthy. The last thing you want is mama getting sick too. I know, I know, this is easier said than done, but you do want to make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Thinking positive has a tremendous impact on our health, and so does getting enough sleep and exercise. Just because you’re taking care of others, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take care of yourself–sick season or not!

How do you survive the sick season at your house?

**Please note that I am neither a physician nor any sort of medical expert. I am writing strictly from my own personal experience, and recommend that you seek professional advice on any serious medical symptoms.**