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7 Agonizing stages of cold and flu season for parents (GIFs)

Taking care of sick kids is the worst, especially when you’re feeling under the weather yourself.

Whether they’re based on sound science or superstition, parents will go to great lengths to try and ward off winter colds. If you’re a parent who hates getting sick, here are just a few of the things you might find yourself doing during cold and flu season in hopes of keeping germs at bay.

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You turn into a cleaning machine

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As soon as the leaves begin to change color and until the first blooms of spring appear, you are a one-person cleaning machine. You scrub everything down like Cinderella hoping to make it to the ball. Anything that doesn’t move gets a frequent once-over with an antibacterial cleaning cloth, and if the dog doesn’t get out of your way, he too shall smell like lemon.

You make vitamin C your king

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Whether it’s supplements, smoothies or encouraging your kids to chug orange juice with their breakfast, you believe that if you can just keep the entire family pumped full of vitamin C they’ll be immune to any virus that’s going around. In your more desperate moments you’ve contemplated getting orange outfits for everyone to scare germs off.

You’re on high alert for signs of illness

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Knowing anyone you come in contact with could be the person who brings your whole house down forces you to get sneaky at detecting sickness. You try to come up with genius/possibly creepy ways to see if friends and family are feeling under the weather before meeting in person. Your signature moves include asking if they happen to have a cough drop on hand and finding a way to casually brush their hair off their forehead while you secretly check for signs of fever.

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Leaving the house requires careful planning

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Those of us who truly dread seeing our kids sick will leave them at home whenever possible during cold and flu season. If you do have to venture out to run errands, you try to pick times when stores are the least likely to be crowded. You teach your kids to treat the outside world like a giant museum, and hone your impression of a drill sergeant by barking “don’t touch” anytime they reach for something that hasn’t been wiped down.

Health comes first, even over romance

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Valentine’s Day might be timed to bring some heat to the dead of winter, but there’s nothing romantic about a runny nose. During cold and flu season, practicality trumps romance. At the first sign of a sniffle, you and your partner sleep in separate rooms in hopes that one of you can stay healthy enough to take care of the kids.

A sneeze sends you running

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It doesn’t matter if the sneeze is caused by a genuine case of the sniffles or mere dust; during cold and flu season you take no chances. The moment someone sneezes you’re grabbing your kids and running in the opposite direction faster than anyone can say “gesundheit.”

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You’re all hand sanitizer, all the time

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Your palms may be drier than the Sahara, but having sandpaper instead of hands is the price you’re willing to pay to avoid getting sick.

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