When you have six kids and a Daddy-o who is out of town, having a tummy bug go through the house is most uncivilized. Last week I had five pukers in a 48-hour period, with a total of 19 pukes. Yes, I counted. Mostly I counted out of pride. Pride, you ask? Some people beam when their kids get a gold medal in a sport or win a spelling bee. My pride comes from knowing that I had 19 rounds of vomit in our house and every single kid hit a toilet or bucket every single time. No need to hold your applause—*mama takes a bow*.
I have a few little tricks for when the plague hits:
*Go on a light diet: as soon as the first kid pukes, anticipate that it is just the beginning. I immediately put the kiddos on a light diet. Dinner becomes soup and toast for everyone—regardless of how healthy they look or feel. We all know what can start up just a few hours later in the wee hours of the morning. Personally, I’d rather clean bland food and fluids off the floor than have to face regurgitated spaghetti and meatballs.
*Buckets for everyone: send kids off to bed, each with their very own bucket. Remind them that if they wake up feeling sick, they should look for the bucket BEFORE wandering around looking for mama.
*Better still, if you have older kids who can make it to the bathroom, set them up for success. Make sure all bathroom lights are on, toilet seats are up and there is a clear path from beds to bathrooms. You don’t want a running puker to miss the target because they trip on a fire truck or can’t find the light switch.
*Word up the school: tell them if one of your kids wanders into the office complaining of a sore gut, they shouldn’t take the “wait and see” approach. Our school secretary was put on alert – if one of my kids turns up looking green in the gills, hand over a bucket and call me immediately.
*Use buckets that have a pouring spout for easy vomit disposal into the toilet. Avoiding those kinds of spills is a top priority.
*Load up on your puker/puker-recovery supplies—Gravol, ginger ale, Gatorade, or whatever your little dehydrated people like to consume.
*Cancel activities and play dates. Even the most relaxed mamas don’t want to take part in this kind of gastrointestinal fun. Pukefest reminds me that I am too slack about my kids sharing water bottles, towels, and the occasional toothbrush. Will I ever learn?
*Keep that washing machine going. I’m certainly not the ‘disinfect toys’ kind of gal, but PJs, pillowcases and the “sick bed” laundry need some serious love.
*Easier said than done, but if you go down, it’s all over, Red Rover. The good news is, at certain point in your mama career the immune system kicks in and you stop catching it. But plan for some backup support, because there’s nothing more humbling than wrestling a kid for the puke bucket.
How is your family surviving the latest round of Pukefest? Have you dodged the bullet so far this germy season?
An autism mom friend recently wrote a touching blog post about her son’s desire for friendship, something that does not always come easily for “our guys.” The response was amazing—with her loyal readers, fans and friends honouring her request for prayers that her son’s wish for friendship might come true.
It got me thinking about our own journey and I suppose in lots of ways I took a very practical view of dealing with the friendship issue. Many of the positive results we saw came from expensive programs and relentless teaching. Here are a few of my tricks of the trade:
Birthday party invitations: Our guys generally don’t get bogged down with invitations. When they get one, buy the birthday kid a ridiculously over-the-top present. Why? It might get your kid invited to more parties. Would it be for the wrong reasons? Who cares? I’m not above coughing up a great present in exchange for the amazing social opportunity a birthday party provides.
Birthday parties for our kids: Make them amazingly fun and invite lots of children. Create buzz by having “the” party to be at.
Be the fun mom: When I took my little guy to the park, I’d play chase with all the kids as the other moms sat and chatted over coffee. You see, all the park kids want to play with the fun grown-up, so being the fun mom creates social opportunities for your kid. While running around like a crazy lady, feel free to occasionally throw the stink eye in the direction of those coffee-drinking slackers who have no idea how lucky they are (wink!).
Teach your kid to be a good loser: When a kid has a major meltdown because he lost “What Time is it, Mr. Wolf” at recess, he’s not exactly positioning himself to make friends and influence people. No one wants to play with a sore loser. Teaching my guy to lose was a big part of his program. We made him lose board games over and over and practice saying “Good game, would you like to play again?” without crying. Social skills programs are great for tackling this common issue.
Autopsy the social event: After a social interaction or activity, be sure to autopsy the event with your kid. What went well? What could have gone better?
Teach your kid not to be boring: Help them understand that we don’t all want to hear about dinosaurs, the solar system, Pokémon, etc. Describe what someone’s face looks like when they are bored or tuning out. Teach them that when they see that face, it’s time to immediately change the subject to something the friend might be interested in.
Keep your kid cool: If all the kids are talking about Super Mario, get them a Super Mario game so they can be a part of the conversation. Dress your kid in cool clothes. It drives me crazy how some people dress their kids with autism. If you have a kid who acts a bit nerdy, the last thing you want to do is dress them that way.
Goofy stims: Do whatever you can to cut/re-direct/otherwise kill weird-looking stims.
Train their neurotypical friends: Teach them to be honest with our guys. It’s OK to say “Hey bud, don’t stand that close to me when you’re talking, OK…it makes people feel crowded”. Or “Hey bud, we don’t wear our ball caps that way once we are 12 years old, wear it like THIS (adjust hat).” NT kids should be proactive, not merely observing the behavior—encourage them to chime in and share what they know!
Increase their social circles: If things are not going so well with the school friends, it’s great to have other friends to rely on. My guy has friends from Scouts and sports as well. And let’s not forget his besties—siblings and cousins.
Pray, teach, program or do all of the above. Every kid deserves friends—let’s show them how to get some.