A Mom’s Survival Guide for Cold and Flu Season

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Covid positive test with children's medication
Covid test with children’s medication.

Winter is here… And you know what that means. If you’re anything like me you DREAD winter because that means it’s cold and flu season. I don’t know about you but for us it’s not a case of “IF” we get sick but more along the lines of “when” we get sick. So instead of putting off the inevitable I now prepare us for what lies ahead. I’m going to share with you all the things I keep handy during cold and flu season to help us survive.

Cold & Flu Seasons in Our Household

I’ve now been through 6 cold and flu seasons with children learning something new each year. My second cold and flu season as a mom is one I’ll never forget. A fresh newborn (4 weeks old) and myself (post c-section) secluded in our bedroom for over a week while my husband, toddler son, and my mother-in-law (who had graciously came down to help with said newborn and toddler) all were down with Flu B. I mean come on, Flu B and a fresh baby, don’t exactly mix. Terrified doesn’t even begin to explain it but by the grace of God, baby and I, managed to stay healthy while the rest of our family recovered.

Other cold and flu seasons have went by in a bit of a blur, the more children you add (2 in our case) the more viruses that get brought into the house and the more of a blur they become. However, having so much experience with them, I have found some things that help me stay prepared (and survive) when cold and flu season comes around. I always say it’s better to be prepared than to be caught off guard and scrambling when it strikes & our significant other is working or deployed!

Sick child sleeping on bathroom floor
Cold and flu season means long days and nights for us as parents but also for our littles.

Cold & Flu Season “Must Haves” Checklist

This list is not all encompassing, please take what you like and leave what you don’t. This is a list that I have found helpful for me to have around each year when cold and flu season arises.

  1. Thermometer. You ALWAYS need a good thermometer when any type of sickness hits your family. I’ve learned under the tongue is not going to work here. The best one’s I’ve found are the body temperature scanners (this way I do not have to wake the kids if they are sleeping) and my favorite has been Kinsa. This thermometer comes with it’s own app for my iPhone and has a profile designated for each child. I can assign the temperature, any medications give, and any additional notes. This has been so helpful for me, especially when I’m tried and having a hard time keeping track of who I have what medicine to and at what time.
  2. Children’s Tylenol & Children’s Motrin. I always try have extra bottles of Tylenol and Motrin in our medicine cabinet. This year has been particularly interesting with the Tylenol shortage in our area (literally we could not get it anywhere and it was $50 a bottle on-line) but luckily after phoning several family members and friends out of town, we are re-stocked and ready to go. My number one tip for these are to make sure you get different colors. I usually try to get dye free Tylenol and the orange Motrin just as a preventative to help not get them mixed up.
  3. Alarms. I mentioned the Kinsa allows me to track at what time I have given medication but I also set alarms on my phone with a specific time, child’s name, and medication, to remind me of when it is due. If we have low grade fevers this isn’t something I usually do but if we have high grade fevers I always set reminders just because we’ve experienced febrile seizures and I’d like to avoid that at all cost again.
  4. Drinks. Staying hydrated is SO important when you or your family members are sick. Our favorite go to’s during this time are Gatorade, Pedialyte, Sprite, and Ginger Ale. I usually have some combination of these in our pantry reserved just for sick days.
  5. Humidifier. We have the Vicks Starry Night Cool Mist Humidifier and the kids love it. It doubles as a night light since it projects stars onto the ceiling.
  6. Tissues. Always keep a supply of tissues on hand, you never know when you’ll need them. My personal favorites are the Tissues with Vicks and if I can’t find those then I go with Tissues with Lotion.
  7. Nose Frida. This is one of those baby items I always recommend or gift to new moms. The hospital suction bulbs are “okay” but I really liked how effective the Nose Frida is for little ones that are congested.
  8. Diaper Rash Cream. If you’re stuck with a gastro illness then you’ll want to have this nearby. Our favorite is the Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Maximum Strength Diaper Rash Cream.
  9. Alka-Seltzer, Tylenol, & Motrin (adults). We always plan for our kids but don’t forget to prepare for yourself too! These are three medications you’ll always find in my medicine cabinet.
  10. Herbal Tea. If my husband or I are feeling under the weather I love making Sinus Soother or Throat Coat herbal teas. It’s a great before bedtime treat to wind down with.
  11. Vapor Bath Bombs. Frida Baby also makes a natural vapor bath bomb that is great for congestion and the kids love htem.
  12. Vitamin C. This is an easy one for me, we try to keep some type of vitamin C in the house, it’s usually orange juice. It never hurts to have that extra immune boost handy.
  13. Reusable hot and cold pack and/or heating pad. If your little one or you have a gastro virus, a heating pad can do wonders when your tummy is cramping.
  14. BRAT Diet. If you haven’t heard of the BRAT diet, its blander foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, and bread that are easier on your stomach. Applesauce is the easiest to keep in our pantry and the kids love it.
  15. Freezer Meals. If I’m cooking up soup I usually try to make a double batch and then freeze one in a ziplock bag. This way when someone ends up sick, we can take a frozen soup of of the freezer and put it into the crockpot for dinner and that’s one less thing I have to worry about.
  16. Meal/Food Delivery Service. If I don’t have any freezer meals or “easy meal” around the house then we’ll use a meal or grocery delivery service. In Texas I used Shipt but here in New Jersey/New York UberEats is more popular.
  17. Clorox Wipes. Clorox Wipes are great to have in your medicine cabinet, especially to wipe down all those germs on the surfaces of your house.
  18. Gloves. I use these so much when a gastro bug hits our house. I’ll put the gloves on to clean up any messes and then toss them in a trash bag once I’m done.
  19. Small Trash Bags. I keep these in my cabinets as well with paper towels and gloves. This way if one of the kids throw up. I can grab my gloves, paper towels, and a small bag to discard everything quickly. I’m sensitive to smells and don’t want them lingering in the house.
Table full of drinks, Starbucks, Gatorade, and Sprite
Cold and flu season at a glance in our house.

Cold and Flu Season at Your House

So what am I missing? What are your go-to items to beat the winter germs? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll update this every year with anything new that we have found helpful!

P.S. These items would also make for a great sick kit package if you know someone that’s under the weather and you want to help out! ❤️

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  1. Great list and thank you for adding adult items. Still y favorite for adults is Trader Joe’s Ginger,lemon, Echinacea juice served hot or cold.

    1. We always need to be prepared if we fall sick ourselves. My MIL loves the Ginger, lemon, echinacea juice, I never thought to include that but will update it for next year’s list!

  2. Great list! Never heard of the bath bomb, very cool, I do something similar using essential oils. I use them a lot when the kids are sick, especially for those of my kids who have respiratory issues more easily. And Magic bags are out go too for heat or cold! We are not a gastro type of house, we rarely get it gladly, but I had a friend saying she was putting many sheets and mattress protectors one of top on each other so when someone vomits she just has to take on layer off, the next one is already there, no need to make the bad again! I thought that was genius!

    1. The mattress protectors are such a great idea! We actually have these on our kids bed as well. I’ll make sure to add them to our next list. Thank you for the reminder! I love essential oils, I really need to learn more about them but a good orange for energy or lavender before bedtime always hits the spot.

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