Why having a child with the flu is actually worse than having the flu

Feb 3, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. ET
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Getting the flu is the worst. Having a few days off from work isn’t fun when you spend that time feeling congested and achy and going back and forth from your bed to the bathroom. But as awful as getting the flu is, it’s far worse when your child is the one who’s sick. 

When flu season comes around each year, parents fear coming down with the flu because keeping the household running is hard enough when you’re healthy, let alone when you're under the weather. But there’s another reason to fear the flu as a mom, because the only thing worse than getting the flu yourself is when your child gets it instead. Here are a few reasons why having a child with the flu is worse than having the flu.

More: 7 Agonizing stages of cold and flu season for parents (GIFS)

1. The horror of homework catch-up

When you come down with the flu, you can rest easy knowing your coworkers are helping to keep things running while you’re away from the office. But when your child is sick, their school bestie can’t come to the rescue. Hopefully you still remember long division, because these worksheets the teacher sent home aren’t going to fill themselves in. You have to help your kiddo get these done and there's not a teacher in sight.

2. You have to keep them entertained

The silver lining of being sick yourself is knowing you can grab a box of tissues and snuggle up on the couch to catch up on all your favorite shows. But the joy of binge-watching doesn’t seem to kick in until the teen years, and after a few hours, your sick child is done with watching cartoons, forcing you to add “cruise director” to your list of parenting duties for the week.

3. Feeding sick kids is a challenge

Adults usually have a go-to comfort food they like to nosh on when they get the flu. Macaroni and cheese, dry cereal or even good old chicken noodle soup — whatever it is, if you’ve got a few days worth in the pantry, you’re all set. But if your child is already a picky eater when they’re feeling well, coming down with the flu can turn them into a food critic so harsh they could easily get a job at the local paper.

More: How to survive when you’re sick and want nothing to do with your kids

4. Your to-do list just grew a mile

Getting sick means having to disinfect, but at least when you get the flu there’s not that much cleaning to be done. You wipe the door knobs and light switches with disinfectant, change the sheets and then try not to touch anything until you’re no longer contagious. But when your child gets the flu, complete germ destruction requires all of the above plus a dishwasher full of plastic toys and a ton of stuffed friends hitting the spin cycle.

5. Two words: Bodily fluids

When you come down with the flu, you clear a path to the bathroom in case your stomach needs you to make a run for it and get some nice, soft tissues to prevent your nose from getting rubbed raw. But trying to teach a toddler how to blow their own nose is like trying to teach a cat to scoop its own litter box — it would be awesome if they could, but it’s just not happening. And, of course, coming down with the flu is the one time your child will take the “no running in the house" rule to heart, meaning odds are high that you’ll be mopping up something at some point.

6. You fear that you’re next

When you come down with the flu, the silver lining to feeling under the weather is knowing you’ll feel better after a few days and, if you keep a healthy distance from other people, no one else will catch it. But kids who are sick want mom snuggles and you just can’t help but comfort them, even if you know you may be sentencing yourself to your own illness.

More: Quiz: Test your cold and flu prevention smarts

7. You hate seeing your child sick

Even if you know they’ll get over the flu eventually, you still feel awful seeing your child not feeling their best. It's hard knowing you can’t magically make them healthy and you can only try to help them through the flu. Seeing your child sick with the flu is so much worse than having the flu yourself.

This post was sponsored by Clorox. All stories and opinions are that of the author.