When Sick Grandchildren Come to Visit

by Donne Davis on December 11, 2009

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‘Tis the Season to Be Sneezin’

Here’s a familiar dilemma: You’ve just finished decorating your house for the holiday visit with your grandchildren, who are flying in from the East Coast, and you get a call from your daughter that both girls have fevers. Do you:

a) Tell them not to come.
b) Postpone the visit until they’re recovered.
c) Keep the plans and get out the Lysol spray.

If you’re like most grandparents, you choose c) Welcome them with open arms, and risk catching whatever they have.

This scenario recently happened to one of my grandma friends. Connie’s two granddaughters, ages 2 and 4, both arrived and left with fevers. They were sick the entire visit. Connie and her husband tried to talk them out of coming. “We would never have taken our feverish children on a plane,” Connie said. “But, of course, we didn’t tell them that!”

She told me the visit was wonderful and even though the girls were sick, it wasn’t bad enough to keep them in bed. They went to parks and playgrounds but didn’t visit any enclosed places. After they left, the inevitable happened—Connie and her husband both got sick. “Surely we were not going to stay away from the little girls just because they were sick,” she explained. “We wanted to be as close to them as we could, even if it meant getting sick!”

Why do we subject ourselves to our infected grandchildren? Because we can’t help ourselves—the urge to be with them is just too powerful. Another grandma told me that before she retired, she used to get angry when she’d get sick after a visit with her grandchildren and then had to miss work. But now she just laughs and recites the grandma mantra: “thanks for sharing.”

Today’s parents take their children everywhere—even when they’re sick. They’re also teaching them to be more conscious of germs by using the new “Dracula” sneeze and cough—into their sleeve. While researching this post, I discovered a clever product called “Germy Wormy,” which helps children remember to sneeze and cough into their sleeves.  This disposable sanitary elbow sleeve is worn over clothing and reminds children to contain their germs. Margaret Back, a mom with two young children, developed the product after she kept getting sinus infections every time her children got sick. As a result, she created Germy Wormy, along with a clever video that teaches children all about germs and how to avoid spreading them.

5 Tips To Avoid Catching Your Grandchildren’s Cold

If you’re one of those grandmas who can’t say “no,” I found some advice from Dr. Charlotte Cowan, a pediatrician who writes for grandparents.com. Here are her 5 tips for staying well when babysitting your sick grandchildren:

  1. Create a Bathrobe Barrier: slip on a bathrobe over your clothes to wear when you’re holding your sick grandchild.
  2. Wash Away Germs: be diligent about washing your hands after each contact with your grandchild.
  3. Build a “Boat” Bed: make a comfy little bed out of 2 armchairs and move it to wherever you’re working.
  4. Select a Special Tissue Box: for children over 2, give them their own box of tissues and private wastebasket.
  5. Consider Wearing a Mask … or Not Sitting: disposable masks can be found at drugstores.

May your holidays be joyful and germ-free!


{ 2 comments }

Susan Adcox December 13, 2009 at 9:18 pm

This is interesting information. Curiously enough, I seldom seem to catch what my grandchildren have. 60+ years of life, including 25+ years of teaching school, and I seem to have been exposed to lots of varieties of germs–or I guess that’s why I seldom get sick.

I do like the idea of the “boat bed.” One thing that does freak me out a little is having a sick child in my own bed.

Charlotte Cowan December 12, 2009 at 5:45 am

Many thanks for including my thoughts about how to stay healthy when sick grandchildren are visiting. I hope they help! You might tell your readers about my picture books for sick kids–on fevers and earaches, etc–that certainly help kids to feel better and also include advice for their parents about what to do to take care of their sick children and when to call the doctor.
Thank you again and Happy Holidays!
Charlotte

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