We battled with kindergarden viruses and almost forgot, how being healthy feels. An experience report.

Before my daughter first set foot in her kindergarden, I had always thought we had an outstandingly good immune system. I couldn‘t recall more than… like… five illnesses, that were serious enough to make me stay in bed for one day or more. And those illnesses I had were absolutely harmless. I credited my strong immune system for my sparkling energy and thought, it would go on like this for many years to come.
My kids seemed to have inherited this powerful immune defence. In her first three years, my daughter had been sick for exactly six times – with sniffles. That was it. No fever.
And the baby enjoyed the best of health anyhow.

I often heard stories from other parents or friends, who told me how commonly they and their children were sick… especially, since the kids went to day care or kindergarden. This concerned me, yet I hoped this cup would pass from us. It couldn‘t be this bad, could it?

Ok, you all know in which direction we are about to go with this article, so I can let it out right away: we also got a share of the cup. A big, big gulp we took from it.

Our first year of kindergarden has come to a close and I had to realize, that we have actually never had such an unbeatable immune system at all. More likely, we‘ve just had not too much contact with nasty pathogenic germs. Like kindergarden-germs. Those are the meanest and they totally knocked us out (us: meaning ALWAYS the whole family, baby inclusive). A short extract of illnesses we had in this one year:
Gastroenteritis. Yeah, I know… vomiting and diarrhea: this is a parent‘s favorite.
Pneumonia, luckily a light form
Three day fever
And many, many colds in various degrees of severity. Did you know, there are more than 200 different kinds of viruses which can cause a cold? We got to know a few of them.

And all these diseases were accompanied by a fever.

Which is a good thing, actually, as a higher body temperature can kill off pathogens. This is the first lesson I learned from our string of sick days. A fever is (usually – as always, there are a few exceptions – ) nothing you need to worry about, rather the underlying disease is a cause for concern. It is one of the body‘s weapons against intruders and therefore not necessary, to try to get your child‘s temperature down as soon as it rises over the fever mark. In general, a healthy kid is going to handle a fever just fine.

Also, body temperature does not work as an indicator of how serious a disease is or rather how sick your child is. Some kids have a higher temperature faster than others. Some more serious diseases hardly cause a fever, other more harmless ones push the temperature up rapidly. I find it helpful to know my children‘s fever characteristics. Their healthy temperature and their individual fever line at which I can be sure, they are sick. The more experience and knowledge, the better. I got calmer with every fever (and really, it isn‘t even possible to stay stressed out when your kids and you are sick like every second week. At some point, it just becomes normal.).

Also, what will calm you down A LOT, is degree°. This is a small wearable you put in your child‘s ear to watch his temperature continuously. I had issues with conventional temperature measurement methods. I didn‘t want to take the temperature rectally and neither did my kids. Even though this method is recommended by doctors (but it isn‘t that flawless anyway), I found it very inconvenient and unpleasant for my kids. And at the latest at the age of one, impossible. So I switched to a normal ear thermometer, but either mine is rubbish or I‘m not able to use it. It just didn‘t work, my measurement results were pure fiction. I could just as well have guessed them.

You will get a feeling for your child‘s fever curves quickly and recognize, if there is a reason to worry, or if your child‘s immune system can handle the pathogenic intruders just fine. With a little experience, you‘ll just know! But degree° makes life even easier. It learns from your data, from past fever curves and treatments you gave. This helped me a lot, as it saved me from having to tax my brain. Which, as I mentioned before, needed a rest itself because of me being sick all the time, too. And it worked great, so a full recommendation here.

Apart from that, I learned:

No, you can‘t shorten a cold. Pharmacies sell a lot of interesting looking things, but you won‘t find your salvation there. A cold is a cold is a cold, no matter what. There are various degrees and symptoms and some of them can be alleviated with the right treatments. Nevertheless, your child will be whiney, will have a bad sleep and you will have to look after her exceptionally intensive and do the things, your mother did, when you were a child and sick. And it will pass. But there is no magic cure against a cold.
Against other, more harmfull illnesses, there is, luckily. And I am really, really thankful for that. Pneumonia without having the appropriate medication – I don‘t even want to think about that. We are lucky to live in this day and age, where medical care is at such a high standard. But try to convince your child, that it is in his best interest, to drink these yucky antibiotics. Not fun.

There is no way out of it for you. Because there is only ‚MAMA!‘ (or “daddy”), when little kids are sick, as they need to be cared for by their most favorite persons in the world. And not the babysitter for example – don‘t even think of that. Also, a potential babysitter won‘t be happy to take over your duties, because of the risk of contagion. They have to be fit for work, you know.
So do you? You just got back to work from parental leave and do have to prove your employer and your colleagues you are as reliable and as flexible you were, before you became a parent? Yeah, well… bad luck.

And worst of all: when after being bombarded with nasty viruses for days or weeks, your own immune system collapses, too. I have no idea how it is even humanly possible to handle being sick with kids. Because either, your kids are sick, too, so they need to be well cared for, are whiney and sleep poorly. Or they are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and want to play with you, are hungry and want to get out of the house.
When all you want to do is break down on the nearest bed.