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The Genius Stomach Flu Hack All Moms Need to Know

Photograph by Twenty20

I think we can all agree that vomit is one of the worst things about parenting. I’m not talking about spit-up, I’m taking about the fully-eating-solid-food nightmare that is kid barf. We’ve all had to clean it, and if you’re anything like me, that task usually comes with a side of your own heaving.

I feel as though I would do just about anything to avoid scrubbing half-digested chucks out of the carpet. But, poor little things, when they don’t feel well, the horrifying mess is unavoidable ... or so I thought, until I stumbled upon the Facebook post that will forever change how I parent when my kids are sick.

When the stomach flu took down her family, Maureen of Homemade Mothering unlocked some next-level parenting genius. Inspired by her hatred of cleaning up puke, she offered her children one dollar for every time they made it all the way to the toilet to barf.

Apparently, a dollar is enough of an incentive to inspire a controlled jog to the bathroom and not so much that a bout of the flu will put you in the poor house. Worst-case scenario, they don’t make it to the bathroom and you’ve saved a buck. It’s a little like next-level potty training. Instead of M&M’s, you dole out cold hard cash and in the process, your kids end up with a seriously important life skill—and you get clean floors.

With flu season in full swing, this clever solution definitely needs to be shared far and wide.

Cleverly named “Barf Bucks,” her system has us all wondering why we never thought of it before. After she posted on social media, Facebook moms were immediately singing her praises. Comments like, “This is the greatest idea ever!” and “This is genius!” were coupled with moms sharing their own barf war stories. One commenter said, “Amazing! I’ve been cleaning middle of the night barfs for a week!” and perhaps the funniest one just read, “SO, NOW you TELL me!”

With flu season in full swing, this clever solution definitely needs to be shared far and wide.

I absolutely adore this concept, although I could see it needing a few tweaks in order for it to truly work at my house. First of all, we only have one bathroom. In the horrendous (and honestly, likely) event of more than one family member with the flu at the same time, making it to the toilet might just be impossible. I would have to redefine a “clean puke” as making it in the giant salad bowl with zero spillage. Dumping a bowl is a whole lot easier that scrubbing the sofa and gives little ones the chance to “play” without having to hold it all the way to the bathroom.

I’m also not totally sure my kids value money enough to put in the effort. My preschooler would see the promise of a small toy as a much better incentive. In fact, I might head to the dollar store to stock up, in case that nasty flu that’s going around breeches my feverishly sanitized walls.

Some parenting experts warn against offering bribes for good behavior, but those “experts” have obviously never stripped three beds in the middle of the night. As one commenter noted, "Desperate times call for desperate measures."

Bribes may not be the ideal parenting strategy, but when barf is in play, all bets are off.

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