Cold and flu season is no laughing matter—but parents can use some comic relief when they're home with sick kids. After force-feeding every one vitamin C, here's what you really need to do to prep for the season of sickness. 


It's that time of year again—when your family is a perpetual slew of snot, fevers, vomit, and misery as you're hit with colds, flu, and stomach bugs.

Of course, you can try the usual expert recommendations of hand washing, staying "healthy," and pumping everyone full of all the immune-boosting supplements money can buy.

But let's face it—kids won't keep their hands clean or off of each other, schools and daycares are viral villages, and little ones are going to try to eat every germ-covered item in sight, leaving your efforts defeated. And unless you own a hazmat suit (hey, not a bad idea!), you're likely going to catch whatever they have, too.

It's going to happen, period. The best you can do is accept it and try to do a little early damage control by following these tips, and enjoy a good laugh:

1. Eat ice cream

Get the big plastic tubs—one for each family member. Why? Because those containers make the best barf buckets/puke pails/vomit vases (or whatever you want to call them). Okay, I guess you could use small trash cans or something, but it's much more fun to have a treat every night for the next few weeks.

2. Exercise your pelvic floor

Start doing those Kegels and pelvic tilts now, especially if you've given birth in the past year. It's time for a pelvic floor strength makeover because it sucks to pee yourself every time you sneeze or cough, which you'll be doing a lot of soon. (Maybe stock up on panty liners as a backup. Yeah, that sounds easier.)

3. Load up on supplies

Like NOW. Don't wait until a vicious virus hits. Who wants to go to CVS with a grumpy army of miserable sick kids who could explode at any minute?

Here's a handy quick list for your next shopping trip:

  • Gatorade and/or Pedialyte

  • Ginger ale

  • Chicken noodle soup

  • Tums

  • Cold/cough medicine

  • Tylenol or Advil

  • Tissues (like a whole cart full)

  • Extra paper towels and toilet paper (another cart full)

  • VapoRub

  • Bleach

  • Carpet cleaner

  • Sanitizing wipes

  • New set of towels

  • Panty liners (because you know you'll forget about the Kegels)

4. Clean at the first sign of stomach virus

Believe me, you will NOT be getting anything done in the next few days, so here's your game plan as soon as someone says "my tummy hurts":

  • Do the laundry now, before you come down with the bug and are useless but everyone is out of clean clothes...and towels. Do the towels first. #priorities

  • Cover the couches and soft chairs with blankets or towels (to save you some god-awful gross scrubbing later). Throw an extra blanket on your own bed while you're at it, because you know everyone else will pick it as prime puke real estate.

  • Clean the toilets. You'll thank yourself later when you're staring deeply into the watery abyss and are spared the extra stomach turn by crusted-on poo right in front of you. Also make sure to have a bucket in every bathroom in case of double-trouble explosions, if you know what I mean, because holy crap (pun intended), those are the worst!

5. Don't forget the car

You also might want to invest in seat covers and/or line the seats and floors with towels in preparation for every parent's dreaded right of passage: the inevitable kid-throws-up-in-car moment. Believe me, it will happen at some point with every. single. kid. Usually without warning. You'll still have clean up to do, but this will save you at least some work trying to scrub half-digested chips and juice splat out of impossible-to-clean seats.

With that I say good luck, and may your hand sanitizer actually work (because you know you'll still try it til your skin cracks). Try to stay positive—at least you'll have a legit excuse to let everyone (including yourself) have an unhealthy amount of screen time.

And remember—you can never have too many towels!