Herewith, at the start of the germ season, and in the midst of our first family tummy bug, I offer my hard-won tips on minimizing the awfulness:
1. Send spouse out for supplies as soon as child #1 blows. If you have more than one child, get twice as much ginger ale or juice or Pedialyte or Gatorade as you think you'll need. Popsicles work to get fluid in, too. Buy pretzels or whatever for afterwards. If no spouse is available, call someone (anyone!) or order delivery. Be obsessive about hydration. Aim for little sips, not gulps, after every urp. Room temp fluids tend to stay down longer than cold.
2. If you have a little one and don't have Tylenol suppositories in the house, get some. They may sit in the cabinet until the expiration date passes, unused, but if you have a child with a fever of 104 who can't keep anything down, you'll be glad to have them.
3. For kids too young to aim for a bowl, retrieve all the receiving blankets and baby towels stashed in the corner of your linen closet and stack them up on the pillow or mattress. Wad up the top blanket/towel when it's soiled, and toss it in a plastic bag (or a bucket with Borax) for the next morning. Voila -- no need to change sheets!
4. Avoid over-the-head jammies. Seriously bad news to get off. Avoid jammies completely if possible; less laundry is better.
5. Braid all long hair, including that of siblings who haven't (yet) gotten sick.
6. Do not let anyone sleep in a top bunk, even if they claim to feel fine. The 2am down-the-wall-on-your-sister experience is to be avoided at all costs. Let sick kids sleep near you so you don't have to dash out of bed at night. We used to keep an old crib mattress under our bed, which we slid out for sick-child use.
7. For kids who are old enough to attempt to reach a bowl, find a really large one. Make sure it has a flat bottom, so it doesn't tip easily. A bucket or anything else an entire head can fit into is great. Keep a box of tissues nearby for wiping yucky mouths.
9. Move a giant bottle of Purell next to your sick child so you remember to clean your hands every time you touch him or her. Sometimes disinfecting really does stop the contagion. (Yes, soap is better, but not at 4am on round #13.)
10. Don't look at the clock. And don't count how many times you've gotten up. You don't want to know.