Your Survival Kit for Cold and Flu Season


The cold and flu season is upon us and if you have kids in school or daycare, they’re going to get sick. Even if they don’t go to a child care center, they’re going to get sick.  And if you have kids like mine, they’re going to get sick A LOT.  My kids are only 2 and 3, but every winter I panic about the cold and flu season. They’re not known for being great sleepers and when they’re sick? Oh Lord, help me. I’ve slept on the floor, in the rocking chair, and even in my daughter’s toddler bed which was her crib with one rail down. A CRIB! I somehow contorted my body to fit in a crib. Sleepless nights and days spent sitting while holding one of them, watching TV, shushing, rocking, snuggling, or doing whatever it is they want because they aren’t feeling well, equals one cranky momma. And I say “they” because most of the time it’s not just one that is sick. If it is, it’s only a matter of days before the other one gets sick. We’ve had sicknesses last almost 2 weeks. That’s 2 weeks of sleepless nights, whining, and crying. IT. IS. MISERABLE.


Because of this, I used to try and hibernate during the winter. Hand sanitizer wherever we went is a given, but I would literally stay home as much as we could. So many runny noses everywhere. Some people think it’s good to get sick and it will help build their immunity. Those people must not have kids that get as sick as mine!  But, I do believe it’s true that you can’t keep your kids locked up all winter.

So, I’ve given up trying to quarantine them all winter in fear of them getting sick. It’s inevitable.I’ve learned no matter how hard I try, they will get sick. Instead of focusing on hoping and praying they won’t get sick, I’ve become better at simply preparing for when they do get sick. Being prepared has made our lives more tolerable during each bout. And with experience, I now know what to expect and how to keep everyone involved as happy as sickly possible.

Here is my Cold and Flu Season Survival Kit (DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional and do not advise taking any medication over the counter or otherwise without your doctor’s consent.)

  1. Thermometer A good one. If you have an infant, a rectal thermometer. For older babies, toddlers and up, I would recommend either a temporal or an ear thermometer like they use at the pediatrician’s office. We didn’t love the Exergen Temporal so we got the Braun Ear Thermometer and it works better for us.
  2. Doctor’s Phone Number You may think this is an obvious one, and it is. But having it as a favorite or on “speed dial” in your phone helps. Also making sure both partners have the number in their phone prevents a heated argument during an emotional time when your little is sick (yes, this happened to me!).
  3. A Local Pharmacy Just in case your kiddo requires a trip to the doctor and prescription meds, have that number and address ready to give to your pediatrician and nurse. Preferably one with a drive-thru. A drive-thru pharmacy is a time and sanity saver!
  4. Tylenol and Advil Stock up on acetaminophen and ibuprofen that is age appropriate for your kids. Ibuprofen lasts longer and works better for the night. If your kid gets a fever like mine, your doctor may even recommend alternating meds. Oh, and good syringes also make life easier. These have been a game changer.
  5. Saline Nose Spray Saline spray for their little noses works wonders. They may hate it, but it helps loosen up the gunk. We’ve tried a few brands and to me, they’re all the same.
  6. Nasal Aspirator NoseFrida is a must, to get all that gunk you loosened up with saline spray. Forget about the bulb syringe. This actually works for infants and toddlers. It’s weird and might seem kind of gross, but I promise you’ll never get your kid’s snot in your mouth.
  7. Soft Tissue, Boogey Wipes, and Cloths Seriously, tissue with lotion makes a HUGE difference. And after rubbing their noses with your pants, shirt, and rug, their noses get irritated. Boogie Wipes help keep noses from hurting too badly. My favorite was finding these on Amazon. They’re super soft wash cloths that my kids basically use as handkerchiefs.
  8. Favorite Foods and Drinks There’s nothing like a sick and whiny kid who doesn’t know what they want or how they feel because, well, they’re just a kid.  Think about when you’re sick and don’t feel like eating most foods. You want comfort food. Kids are the same. Stock up on their favorite snacks and foods to freeze and have on hand. We ALWAYS have Korean soup and rice in the freezer. It’s the only thing they eat when they’re sick (just like me). We usually have a pack of juice boxes stored away since they don’t regularly drink juice. Pedialyte individual powder packs are also great for storage. It’s important to keep hydrated when sick, so anything they’ll drink, I give them.
  9. YOUR Favorite Food and Drinks In order to take care of your littles, you need to nourish yourself and stay healthy. Stock that freezer with quick bites you like.  And snacks.  I don’t know about you, but when my kids are sick, I stress eat. Give me potato chips, dark chocolate, any kind of gummy candy and WINE.  You may be tired as all heck, but a glass after they’ve crashed does wonders.
  10. Toys and Movies Because I don’t like it when others spread germs unnecessarily, I follow the 24 hour symptom free rule and don’t take them out. Besides, trying to get them to listen or do anything when sick is just not worth it. Keep new and favorite movies on hand. By the 3rd time in 2 days, everyone is getting tired of Frozen! A stash of Dollar Store toys are great to have around as well just to mix it up.
  11. Delivery Numbers Grocery Runners, Amazon Prime Now, Kroger ClickList, Order Up, and Skip the Dishes will make your life magical! Sign up and get an account to all of these ASAP. You can read more about Grocery Runners, but they deliver your Kroger ClickList items to your door. Ain’t nobody going to the grocery when the kids are sick. Need something ASAP? Amazon Prime Now will deliver to your door in 2 hours for a tip, and the tip isn’t even required! You can get it sooner if you pay more. Order Up and Skip the Dishes are delivery services that participate with several restaurants (NOT just pizza!) for food delivery. Because, how much soup and applesauce can you stand?
  12. Homeopathic Meds Whether you believe in this stuff or not, sometimes having hope is all you need when in the trenches with sick kids. And from what I’ve read, if used properly, it can’t really hurt to try. I have a stock of various essential oils and two diffusers. These are my other oils I always have on hand: lemon, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint. In addition, since my kids are too young for cough or decongestant meds, I always have Zarbee’s which is a dark honey that helps loosen mucus. There is a nighttime Zarbee’s with melatonin that knocks them out helps them sleep (again ask your doctor before using!).

Be prepared this season and save some time and sanity!  May your family stay as healthy as possible this coming winter!

What else is in your survival kit for sick days?

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I relocated to Cincinnati in 2010 from Chicago to be with the love of my life. For a good long while I had trouble calling Cincinnati home, but 5 years, a husband, and 2 kids later, I am happy to be a Cincinnatian! I am a proud, tired, loving, tired, creative, tired, and doting stay at home mom to 2 spunky girls, 15 months apart. Prior to having kids, I was an early childhood teacher. It's tough being a teacher mom because I have found there is a difference between teaching and parenting, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I love finding and creating exciting, engaging, and fun activities to do with my girls and hope I can share some of what we do with other families.


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