Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Prepare for Sickness

Weekly Contributor, Kim Brenneman

When a family is sick the house can quickly turn into a mess. It can be overwhelming and discouraging. When we get sick too it is hard to have the energy to deal with it all. It is very nice to know how to have a house prepared for illness. If the messes that can happen are prevented by our preparation ahead of time then we are able to rest and heal ourselves.

It’s easier to plan for sickness when you know what’s coming. For instance, the first trimester of pregnancy or post partum or if you know you’re prone to be put on bed rest. Some things you can see coming and try to prepare for. If you know you’ve been exposed to a bad bug, you can prepare for the worst. Best is to always have a plan to act on whether you know sickness might come or for when it blindsides you.
  • It helps to always have a well-stocked medicine cabinet, a variety of herbal teas, and essential oils for various illnesses. We love Gypsy Cold Care by Traditional Medicines. Throat Coat by Traditional Medicines is great for a sore throat. Peppermint essential oil is good for headaches, clearing the sinuses, and a drop in water or tea feels good on a sick tummy.
  • Keep your old towels tucked away for when the stomach flu hits, use them to protect the mattress, floor, layer the crib with, and to put over pillows. Many times over the years I have had multiple children lying on towels in the living room with a trash can beside each one. We listened to audio books and they slept on and off through the days. Audio seems to better than television, I think because the moving images upset the sick tummy. When a person is sick the noise of the TV is also more annoying than listening to an audio book.
  • For a child with a very upset tummy I make a “nest” in the bathroom beside the toilet. I will lay down an old comforter for softness and cover it with towels.
  • Always keep frozen homemade chicken broth in the freezer. That’s one of the big reasons I make chicken and broth every Kitchen Day. Chicken broth feels so good when you are sick. Serve it plain with sea salt for the stomach flu. Spice it up with pepper flakes for the head cold. Add lemon juice and coconut milk for a sore throat.
  • How to keep the house from getting trashed? Keep everything as restricted as possible. Keep yourself and all your sick trash, Kleenex, trash can, books, towels, tea cups, etc. in one place. Don’t move your “sick bed” around. Stay put. Assign other people to one spot also for their sickness. The well people must do the work and do no messy activities that would require lots of clean up. The basics are keeping the dishes up, the bathrooms clean, and the “sick laundry” caught up.
  • When people start to recover, they must start doing their chores as usual. Do them slow but at least do them. (This is where I went wrong last time we were sick. The people that were getting better started to get out all their messy activities and not pick them up. Legos, stuffed animals, art supplies, toy farm animals, magazines and books were spread everywhere.)
  • Your family also needs to be prepared, “When we get sick, this is proper protocol…” and then keep your list of “proper protocol” in your Home Management Book or posted inside a cupboard door for a reference point.
  • Simply having a Home Management Book with your routines and every little detail of what you should do next during your days is helpful. When your brain is in a fog you can simply look at the book and it will tell you what the next thing is. It helps you know what to do without thinking. Even with low energy and frequent breaks, keep doing the next thing. If you don’t have a Home Management Book to tell you what to do then you can have a lot of real mental anxiety looking around at all the mess.
  • Your daily schedule should be posted big and bold. When your children are off their routine you can take them to the chart and tell them where they should be and what they should be doing. If you don’t have one up then they will continue to flounder about until they get caught up in a project which may or may not be helpful to life under control.
  • You may need to take a day of extra housecleaning to get things back up to snuff or an extra laundry day. Cancel or shorten your Town Day or Office Day to make room for extra cleaning and laundry.

The best preparation for being sick is to simply have your household systems running smoothly so that things don’t completely fall off the track and are easy to get up and running again. Being sick is messy business but with some forethought you can be prepared.


Kim Brenneman

Kim is the joyful wife of Matt and the blessed mother of nine children.

When not busy homeschooling and farmschooling, she enjoys writing, gardening, cooking, reading, sewing, and crafting.

Kim lives on a farm in Iowa where her family grows beef cattle, corn and beans, and operates a micro-dairy selling cheese at farmer’s markets. She loves to write and speak about her passion for home and family. She is the author of Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family. She blogs about the same subject at:

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