What We Wish We’d Done: First-Time Parents Battling Flu Season

Some lessons have to be learned the hard way.

Our 15-month old daughter has been battling illness basically bi-weekly since her first birthday in late October.

We both work full-time, so she spends her Monday through Friday daytime hours at a center (which we adore!) with about a dozen other germy toddlers who aren’t shy when it comes to stealing pacifiers, touching faces, and licking toys.

You name it–she’s had it.

Stomach bug? Check.

Cough? Check?

Sneezing? Check.

Runny nose? [constantly] Check.

Diarrhea? Check.

Teething? Check. [I know, eye roll. I’m a first time parent, here!]

But, when she recently woke up overnight with a near 105-degree fever during the height of influenza season this was a new level of terrifying for us as first-time parents. Amid our worry and panic (and incoherent conversations with the local phone nurse), we got her temperature down fairly quickly, and then zoomed her off to the doctor the next day where we learned she was fighting influenza and a double ear infection.

An image of Mama and baby recovering from the flu.

During that miserable moment (and the six terrible sick days she endured) there were a few lessons learned that we hope will help other parents as they prepare to duke it out with their first flu season.

5 Tips For Battling Flu Season

Stock up on sick supplies now.

Whether you’re an errand extraordinaire or an Amazon aficionado, stock up on your standard sick supplies before a bug hits. There is no reason you should be hauling to the drug store with a fevered child while you are in a zombie-like, sleep-deprived state. Shop now; thank yourself later.

Our go-to sick supplies: tissues, infant acetaminophen (AKA Tylenol), infant Ibuprofen (AKA Advil/Motrin), electrolyte solution (AKA Pedialyte), a thermometer, and [your weight] in disinfectant.  

Create a Get Better Basket.

Once you have all your supplies, you’ll want to keep them all in one place, and in one handy container. You do not want to find yourself digging around your house, searching in sixteen different locations for Tylenol and a functioning thermometer while your child’s forehead is heating up. Use this Get Better Basket as inspiration.

Keep a back-up thermometer handy.

In the age of Amazon you would think we would have had an extra thermometer lying around, right? You don’t want to discover a dead battery during the midst of a near 105-degree panic. Roughly $2.99 will buy you reassurance in its purest form: a back-up thermometer. Ask Alexa to add it to your shopping list now.

Don’t be afraid to call the experts.

We as moms don’t know everything, and that’s OK to admit. Don’t be afraid to call your pediatrician or a phone nurse when you are entering uncharted or scary territory. It’s their job to answer your seemingly obnoxious, overbearing questions. Peace of mind is worth it; call them. And no, Googling your kiddo’s symptoms does not count. That will spark more fear than enlightenment.

Trust your instincts.

Remember you are the mama. You may not be a medical professional, but you are the absolute expert on your individual child. You know he or she better than anyone, and you are their biggest advocate. Always go with your gut when sickness strikes.

Good luck in the trenches this especially horrendous flu season, and enjoy those extra sickly snuggles.

You got this, Mama!


Katie is a spouse, mother, and professional communicator. She became acquainted with Iowa City as a student at the University of Iowa, earning degrees in Journalism, Political Science, and most recently her MA in Strategic Communication. Katie and her husband met and fell in love in Iowa City, deciding to never leave. Their family can often be found eating their way through downtown, walking their dog in City Park, or cheering on their beloved Hawkeyes at live sporting events.


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