Sick Day Essentials.

By: Jen Shoop

Man, our entire house has been trading colds for the last month straight, and then mini’s evolved into an ear infection and I came down with a brand new bug. I think possibly because we’ve all been shuttered up and cloistered in the long shadow of COVID, our immune systems are down and we are catching everything. I’ve heard from several Magpie readers and friends that Hand-Foot-Mouth and RSV have been running rampant. We’ve somehow dodged those, but these colds have been brutal! It is tough, not only to look after a feverish child, but to do so when you are feeling unwell as an adult. Thank God for Mr. Magpie, who really held down the fort a couple of times when I was totally nonfunctional and had to sleep through the day. I felt so guilty abandoning him, but he muscled through and took great care of all of us.

Below, in addition to the expected lineup of cold remedies (I think I might permanently smell like Vicks Vapo-Rub), some of the items I’ve been very happy to have on hand (and/or have ordered in a panic)…

+A good, thick, plush robe. It feels like a hug and helps with the chills.

+Lake Pajamas, in multiples. I feel like a broken record, but this is all I want to wear, especially when unwell. Soft, breathable, comfortable.

+Steam showers are best for head colds, but I also like a good therapeutic soak with bath salts like this or a divinely-scented bubble bath.

+I always feel dried out when I’m under the weather, and have been slathering on Jet Lag mask (and just leaving it on), this natural moisturizing stick for undereyes (has such a nice, emollient feel to it — sort of like chapstick but for undereyes), and Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour cream, which I put on my lips and under my chapped nose!

+Caudalie’s beauty elixir — frankly, who knows if it does anything, but it feels like heaven to spritz on a hot or clammy forehead.

+Saltine minis (they are SO good – I don’t know why but they are about 10x better than the full-sized kind) and ginger ale. Absolutely always have these items in my pantry.

+ESWB — Tinx popularized this acronym, short for “emotional support water bottle.” But it’s true – a big canteen of water is essential.

+An insulated mug for tea that won’t get cold — it is so reassuring to wake up in the middle of the night and be able to have a sip of warm tea!

+The best peppermint tea on earth. I live for this.

+TV that’s so bad it’s good. You know what I’m saying. I watched the new Kardashian show on Hulu in a sneezing, coughing haze and it hit right.

+Boll and Branch bed blanket — for some reason just makes me feel better lying under it. The waffle texture is soft and the weight is perfect.

+A good audiobook. When I was really sick with COVID, I couldn’t even keep my eyes open to watch TV, but I would listen to celebrity memoirs to keep myself distracted and to this day they are a total comfort. I recently really enjoyed Katie Couric’s memoir on audiobook — she would be a great companion for a sick day.

+For children: this is where a well-stocked activity cabinet does you well. I luckily had a bunch of little coloring/sticker activities on deck for just such an occasion: this Encanto set was a big hit, these deluxe Water Wows (with the magnifying glass revealing silly hidden images) kept her busy for hours, and we always love puffy stickers in these parts. All of these are great for bed-ridden/couch potato children. You might also find some goodies for children in bed/on couch in this roundup of car travel activities.

+Also for children: I personally like humidifiers because my mom always used them and I do think they make the air feel better on a sore throat / coughing little body, but I have to be honest: my dear friend’s father is a pediatrician and he insists they just “blow bacteria around.” They do require daily cleaning/maintenance, which can be annoying — you really have to empty the water filter and then clean with vinegar regularly. Anyhow, we have and love this one from Crane. You can control the flow of air and it lights up, which my daughter thinks is fun.

+We have been having a really tough time getting mini to take her antiobiotics. She is allergic to amoxicillin (which she loved the taste of — bubble gum!), and the alternative they gave us smells absolutely horrible, so I don’t frankly blame her. We’ve tried mixing it with chocolate, following it with chocolate, pinching her nose, bribing her ten ways to Tuesday, etc. It has been something of a nightmare because now she hates it so much, she is a wreck at every dose time. Anyhow, she’s a bit too old for this, but in my desperation, I did want to share a clever gadget I’d not known about for younger kiddos: a pacifier medicine dispenser and a bottle tip medicine dispenser. So clever! I also always really like the gadgets from Fridababy, which I didn’t discover until micro. They have a handy “sick kit” that would be good to have on hand if you have younger children. Don’t knock the nasal aspirator until you’ve tried it! I was thoroughly disgusted by the idea but then you have a very congested baby and you’ll do anything, and this works like a charm. My pediatrician urged me to give it a try and so I did – so glad I did! Oh! And BoogieWipes — still great for my children who are not yet adept at blowing their noses. They are “a non-medicated natural and sterile saline formula, which dissolves kids’ dried boogers and helps provide relief.” Much better than tissues, especially because they irritate the skin so much.

Shopping Finds from the Invalid.

While I was laid up in bed, in between drowsy, Robitussin-induced snoozes, I did some shopping and found some really fabulous items I wanted to share…

+Finally tracked down this Lacoste polo in the perfect sage green for my son in a size 3T, and miraculously on SALE!

+My sister sent me a link to this scallop-trim linen nightgown while I was bedridden and it looked liked absolute heaven. I also came across this sweet shoulder-tie style and thought it would be adorable as a beach cover up.

+WOW I love everything from Hunter Bell’s new launch. I’ve always flirted with this brand but never committed, and I think I might take the plunge with this gingham daydress in the sage green or this dramatic white style. This striped linen shirtdress would probably also get a ton of wear in my weekly wardrobe and the stripe is so fun.

+Went down a beauty blogger rabbit hole and discovered that many of them use body serums to keep skin looking young, smooth, glowing. Had never thought of this! One suggested adding a few pumps of this body serum into an inexpensive, unscented body lotion (e.g., Embryolisse or Cerave) and Grace shared her entire body skincare regimen, encouraging the same pairing of a body serum (she lists her favorites) with an inexpensive body lotion.

+This led me to revisit my list of European pharmacy favorites.

+This $55 Mille-esque caftan was SO popular this weekend with you Magpies, that I had to mention it again in case you missed it.

+I am hearing that Merit’s Neutral Pink lip color is perfect.

+I really love BusyBees’ Henry tees for micro, but we are at the point where he is prone to destroy t-shirts in the bat of an eye and I just couldn’t in good conscious splurge here, especially given that I’ve really stocked up on high-end polos for him. I needed something inexpensive for everyday. I bought him these pocket tees in four colorways (navy, white, blue heather, and blue lagoon) — currently on sale and all four together were less than the price of one Henry tee.

+This twist-handled mini bag is only $40 and looks way more expensive — I saw it on BeingBridget and thought it was by Hereu!

+Another piece of shopping candy: this under-$30 woven mule.

+Restocked my supply of heavenly facial cotton while 15% off — I like to use this with my beloved oil-based cleanser in the mornings. I wet with warm water and squeeze out excess, then apply a pump or two of the oil and swipe all over face. Than rinse the same cotton, squeeze, and use opposite side to wipe all over face again.

+I did a little damage at Maisonette, too — they are running a sale on select brands of pajamas and I was just mentioning that though I do love to buy my children high-end pajamas (so soft and hold up so well in the wash), I cringe at the prices. I managed to get a few pairs from Paper Cape and Lila + Hayes on sale! I also bought micro one of Cadets’ swim shorts, which are nice enough to double as shorts with a polo for those “might end up jumping in the pool at some point” days.

+I’ve never ordered from this site before, but this $58 gauze skirt turned my head. The material is having a major moment! I love the color, cut, style, and think it would be adorable with a tank and big earrings.

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12 thoughts on “Sick Day Essentials.

  1. We’ve been in the same boat all winter! I’d be embarrassed if I weren’t so busy spoon feeding Motrin and wiping noses! I never thought we were completely isolated during covid but apparently we were.
    Really big tip- make sure to take a probiotic. I’ve been using the toddler probiotic in the refrigerator section at Whole Foods. My doctor always urges us to do this and early January I failed to after ear infection #1. Well, two weeks later, the tummy bug went thru our house and hit my poor 4 year old so hard. He threw up and couldn’t keep food down for 6 days. I’m the worst with all things medical but my gut (haha) tells me that it’s because his gut and good bacteria was thrown off from the antibiotic and hence he got hit much worse with whatever tummy virus he had.
    Hope we all have healthier days ahead this summer!!

  2. Oh no — so sorry to hear about the illnesses in your family, Jen!

    Some viruses have made their rounds in our household too since my daughter started in a new school a few months ago — mostly seasonal cough/colds as well as a stomach virus. Our pediatrician said to expect at least one illness every month for the first 6 months, but maybe more (which has been true for us) due to coming out of relative isolation. I looked back and there was one stretch in which my daughter was sick 4 times in 6 weeks!

    I’ve heard that same thing about humidifiers — we do have to be diligent about cleaning it. We use the one by Frida. I find that it gets less gunk when we use distilled water, but we don’t always have that on hand.

    Hang in there. I’m holding on (perhaps too optimistically) to the thought that with each cold/illness she brings home, she is building her immunity. It doesn’t make it any easier though!

  3. Feel better!! I am *still* nursing a monster mutant flu that my sweet pea brought home from daycare. It was 10 days for her to get over and I’m going on 2 weeks… woof. Love your tips. Huge proponents of boogie wipes over here, as well as Pedialyte popsicles for sore throats and hydration.

    P.S. did you shop the HHH launch? Might be a good time for sweet new PJs!

    1. Ugh – so sorry to hear it! I agree with your characterization — both times I’ve gotten sick this month, it’s been a “MONSTER MUTANT” cold, like totally knocking me out and sending me to bed for 24 hours or more. What on earth?! I used to get colds all the time and still manage fine.

      Anyway, I did not buy anything from the HHH launch, but I really love the floral print and was drawn specifically to the nightgown. I almost wish I hadn’t stocked up on Lake PJs during their sale because it was hard for me to justify another summer pair…but very tempted!!!


  4. Sorry you’re sick, we’re coldish here too! I have found that La Roche Posay Cicaplast Balm is incredible for under the nose for me and my children. It’s safe enough to use on any part of the body and you can even use 8 hour cream to seal it in. feel better!

  5. I’m sorry you’re feeling crummy! Random, but at some point you might want to revisit her Amoxicillin allergy. An allergist friend says they’re wildly over diagnosed – usually because kids develop a rash related to their infection. Might be worth checking out in to future because it does cut out so many drugs. Feel better!

    1. Thank you for this note! Mr. Magpie and I were tossing around similar thoughts since mini was SO resistant to the alternative. We were contemplating calling the doctor and asking whether it was OK to risk a mild rash versus have to go through this emotional drama 2x a day for 10 days! Luckily, she turned a corner and has been a total champ about taking it since (ahem, bribery works), but I’m going to keep this in the back of my mind. Thank you!


  6. It feels lousy to be sick but lousy times 10 to be sick with sick children 🙁 Hope you all feel better soon. You probably already have requested this, but pharmacists can often flavor yucky tasting medicines with FlavorX which has a bubblegum flavor and many others – you just need to find a pharmacy who will mix it and it is usually the same ones that will mix compounds (locally, like Brookeville Pharmacy and River RX). Fun local side fact, FlavorX was invested by a MD pharmacist for this granddaughter who needed daily medication.

    1. Hi Dena! I had NO idea about this — thank you so much for sharing! I had a couple of Magpie messages along the same lines. Will for sure, 100% be doing this moving forward. Thankfully we have finally turned a corner with mini willingly complying with her doses so I think we’re going to make it this go around but absolutely going to be doing this next time.

      Love the story of FlavorX, too — so cute.


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