Oh joy. It’s that time of year again when the mere hint of a spot is enough to send a shudder down my spine. This is not Fake News. I repeat, this is NOT Fake News. Even so, by the time you’ve played ‘snap’ for six hours straight with two tetchy, cooped-up children you’ll be wishing it was.
Little ones in Reception Class? Take a deep breath and ensure that your next Sainsburys’ delivery includes essential provisions only (hint: wine and malteasers). More than one child? Slap a red cross on the door and start waving that white flag aSAP.
The worst (best) thing about E & J’s chicken pox was that neither of them were very ill with it. Two days of sofa-time and their destruction levels were back at DEFCON 1. And that’s where the fun starts… the interminable ‘contagious period’. As a mummy who tries to play (loosely) by the rules, I had no choice but to wait it out…
I envy past generations. They consoled themselves with the fact that chicken pox was a one-time thing. Two weeks of incarceration and they were done. Case closed. Onto the next illness… Nowadays, it’s like the germs are taunting us, spreading weaker and weaker strains to make it easier to re-catch. How many kids do you know who have had it twice? I know, I know. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
In any case, it’s best to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are a few tried and tested to tame the restless:
- Medicate. (And not with gin.) The best anti-itching combo I found was piriton (bribed with choc buttons because the stuff tastes foul), liberal amounts of Viral Soothe, and oatmeal baths. Just load some porridge oats into an old sock, tie the top and then chuck it in the bath under the running tap. The kids think they’re swimming in soup, the smell is surprisingly pleasant and the itching magically disappears.
- TV. There’s a reason why I have subscriptions to NOW TV, Netflix and Amazon Prime… TV WORKS! But policing the amount of television in my house after Pox Day: 3 (ahem, 1) is like trying to herd a group of knowing toddlers into the doctor’s surgery for their immunizations. Quite frankly, I can’t take the tears. By this point my nerves are already shredded. Go forth and frazzle their little pox-riddled brains with as much Paw Patrol and Sofia the 1st’s as they can stomach. It might just save your sanity.
- Shaving foam. This stuff is like liquid fun (just don’t tell your partner.) Squirt a load into a washing up bowl, chuck in some food dye and let the games begin. I learnt this trick for the amazing Imagination Tree website and I haven’t looked back.
- Pasta necklaces. My children are obsessed with these. One ball of string, two packets of penne and voila! You can even add paint to prolong the distraction. Just stand back and smirk as they fling their still-wet creations around daddy’s neck when he walks through the door. In his new suit.
- Coffee. Chances are you’re not the only poxy family in the class, which is a great excuse for lots of play-dates. Hurrah! This means that your offspring can happily cross-pollinate their germs whilst you catch-up on all the school-gate gossip and escape the prison cell (house) for a few hours. Coffee also tends to lead to cake. Which is never a bad thing. Just remember the golden rule… weighing yourself during the ‘pox-period’ is strictly forbidden.