"It's the worst
cold and flu season I can remember," our pediatrician said to me this past
Saturday as I brought my 8-year-old in for the fourth time in as many
weeks. This time, my kid was complaining of a headache and a sore throat. I
knew that meant he probably had a sinus or ear infection, which I wanted
treated as fast as possible.
It's not just that
I wanted to help my son get better as soon as possible, which I did. But
selfishly, I wanted a break, too. The night before, his headache had woken him (and me) up three
times. This is just four days after he had been taken down by a nasty flu that left him battling a 103-degree fever
for three days and nights. He was unable to sleep as his body went from too cold to too hot and back
through the cycle again. So I slept with him.
Actually, I should
correct that. I didn't sleep a wink. My sick kid slept like an acrobat, I
couldn't find the thermometer at 2 a.m., my feet were freezing, and it's
impossible for two people to get any kind of sleep in a twin bed. Plus, my
son's fever scared me. I'm not sure if I'd have been able to rest even if he
Every parent has to be on the ready to mentally and physically survive.
When my kids were
infants, I remember mentally preparing myself for the potential of being up all
night with one of them. Since my kids can't seem to stop getting sick this
year, I'm preparing myself again. In
fact, every parent has to be on the ready to mentally and physically survive
being up all night when his or her kids are sick.
So the next time one
of my kids goes to sleep with so much as a runny nose, I'm doing these 10 things. Because the only
thing worse than being up all night with a sick kid is being unprepared to be
up all night with a sick kid.
1. Have your supplies in the sick one's room
or bathroom ahead of time.
2 a.m. is a terrible time to play
"Where's the Tylenol?" So have any medications your kid might need already
placed in his or her room. Know where
the humidifier is before you go to bed, or fill it before you say goodnight to
your little one. You're not going to want to search for it at midnight.
2. Make sure the thermometer works, batteries and all.
If you're like me, you've got a dozen
thermometers and none of them work. Or if they do, you don't remember how to work
them. Sound familiar? You're not alone. If your kid isn't feeling well or
goes to sleep feeling warm, dig up that thermometer, remind yourself how it
works (you can usually Google the instructions for digital ones if your toddler
long since turned the instructions into an art project) and make sure it has
batteries that actually work. It's a
lot easier for you or your spouse to run out to get a working thermometer at 8
p.m. than at 2 a.m. Trust me, I've done both!
3. Go to sleep in sleeves!
it's the warmest summer night, you will be freezing when you try to soothe your
sick kid at 3 a.m. while wearing that adorable tank top and PJ bottoms. When the kids are sick and might keep you up
all night, it's not the time for tiny pajamas. Brr!
4. Cancel your
early morning wishful thinking workout.
it's clear you're going to be up with one of your kiddos, give yourself a hall
pass from that early morning workout you'd planned weeks in advance. You may be
just getting to sleep when that 6 a.m. spin class starts. You can go another day.
are the parent of a sick child, denial is your enemy. If you don't expect to get your normal night's sleep, you won't be quite so annoyed when you don't.
6. Decide ahead
of time if you or the hubs is the one getting up.
3 a.m. negotiations rarely go well and usually end in a fight.
My husband and I decide in advance who is
going to get up with one of our sick kids based on who has the busier work day
the following day, but every couple has their way of negotiating. The
point is, decide ahead of time. 3 a.m. negotiations rarely go well and usually
end in a fight.
7. Put a pad of paper and pen near your
kid's bed so you can write down medication times.
think you'll have no problem remembering when you gave your kiddo Tylenol. But after a hazy
night of almost no sleep, even simple math gets tricky. So do yourself and your
kid a favor and just have a pad of paper and a pen nearby. Jot down that time
so you don't have to spend the night wondering when the next time is that you
can give your sick child medicine again.
8. For the love
of God, put some socks on your feet.
No one will judge you for just how
unsexy you look. But your sick kid will probably
be a blanket hog, if you get any at all. Think ahead and put on some socks!
9. Put your sick kid to bed in the most
comfortable bed in the house, even if it's not his.
kid is really sick and might require you to sleep nearby, do yourself the favor
of putting him or her to sleep in the guest room with the bigger bed if possible or do some bed-swapping. You're
probably going to end up sleeping with your kid so you might as well be
comfortable. If your child has a twin
bed, you'll realize just how hard it is to get cozy with no space.
10. Charge your phone.
You'll probably want to Google every symptom your
kid has all night so prepare in advance. Have your phone charged and nearby. You're going to need it!
And if you're up
all night with a sick infant, there's a good chance you're going to spend the
duration of the night sitting up in a rocking chair with your sick baby slumped
over your shoulder. It'll feel like this phase where your baby needs you so much will never end, but it will. And in no
time, you'll be awake all night with your toddler or big kid. You won't get any
more sleep, but at least this time you'll be prepared.
Now let's hope you
don't get sick, too. Someone's got to be up all night with your sick kids! A-choo!