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Being Thankful — Even When Dealing With the Stomach Flu

There aren’t a lot of things in life I loathe… but the stomach flu is definitely one of them. Dealing with vomit on any level is just, well, one of the last things I’d like to spend my time doing.

So when one of my children complained of their stomach hurting on Saturday morning, I was concerned. And my concerns proved to be warranted because later in the day, this child walked into my room looking terribly queasy and then proceeded to throw up all over our bed, our blankets, and the carpet.

I felt terribly for this sick child and immediately set to work cleaning them all up, getting them changed, and making a bed for them on the bathroom floor. Then, I went back to face the room strewn with vomit.

The scene was almost more than my weak stomach could handle. But Jesse was gone, so I didn’t have many options other than just diving in and starting on the clean-up.

As I contemplated the best method for tackling this mess, I quickly realized that my bad attitude was only going to make things worse. So I challenged myself to come up with as many things to be grateful for as I could about the situation. It was amazing how this changed my perspective!

Here were a few things from my mental gratitude list:

  • A washing machine — I shuddered to imagine what it would be like if I had to wash all the throw-up covered bedding by hand.
  • Running water — What if I had to go haul water from a well to bring into the house to clean the carpets and then wash the clothes?
  • A cheerful child — Even while feeling really miserably, this child had a happy demeanor and was even able to find humor in the situation.
  • A willing helper — One of my other children donned rubber gloves and volunteered to pitch in right beside me. Their servant’s spirit blessed me so much.
  • A carpet cleaner — Investing in a carpet cleaner a few years back has proven to come in handy time and again. Today, I was once again very grateful for how it sped up the clean-up process.
  • That the episode did not repeat itself — While the first episode took a significant amount of time to clean up, I was incredibly grateful that no vomit ended up on the carpet or bedding the rest of the night.
  • That only one child was sick — If all three had been sick at the same time, I can’t begin to imagine what that would have entailed!
  • That we were home — This could have happened in the car, at someone’s else house, or at the store!

Looking for things to be thankful for made the clean up go so much more quickly and it helped me have a much more pleasant attitude about the whole thing!

I know that a stomach bug is a very minor thing in comparison to what many of you are facing today. But can I challenge you in this? No matter what messes or struggles or difficulties you’re facing right now, choose gratitude in the midst of it. It might not change your circumstances, but it will certainly change your outlook!

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  1. J says

    Your account of the illness brought back so many memories. One of them was that every time one of my children would throw up I did also. Twice as much to clean up. Geesh.

  2. says

    WOW – that sounds nearly identical to what happened at our house on Saturday night – all over his bedroom carpet, the hallway, the bathroom, himself, me… and it only lasted that night! And no one else has had it! Crazy! I feel ya, friend – and I’m so sorry that y’all had to go through this. But what a wonderful list of things to be grateful for! I’ll definitely be keeping those in mind as cold/flu season goes on! *Lysol hug*

  3. Jessica says

    We had it about a month ago. First my 3yo, then the baby, then my 7yo and I got it within half an hour of each other. Only difference was, ours came out both ends :( My husband was the only one healthy. The baby was sick for a full week, and my husband took her to the pediatrician while the 7yo and I rested in bed all day.

    Technically, it’s viral gastroenteritis, although I know most people call it “stomach flu”. It has nothing to do with actual influenza “flu”, which is a severe respiratory illness.

  4. Holly says

    When my son has a stomach bug I am always thankful that this will heal soon. We lost my young cousin to cancer this year. When she was sick her parents didn’t have that reassurance. I am blessed.

  5. Linda says

    Hope everyone is feeling better! You’ve got a great outlook — good for you and thank you for sharing! I’ve given thanks more than once for indoor plumbing.. sometimes it’s a stretch to find the blessings :)

  6. Jill says

    That happened to us on Sunday. I kept telling my daughter that she was fine because I wanted to go out but she was right her tummy was mad as she states. Lucky for us she made it to the toilet. Is a lesson for me that we were not ment to go out but stay home and watch the snow fall instead of driving in it.

  7. Lindsey Swinborne says

    My best friend went on a vacation to Washinton D.C. this summer and her son threw up in Ford’s Theater! Then the rest of the family caught it and proceeded to throw up on sidewalks, in the hotel room, in the airport, on the airplane, on a stranger’s laptop, and at her mother-in-law’s home when they finally made it home to our state. Talk about a nightmare of epic proportions that may inspire her to never travel again! On my birthday we were driving home from a wedding 1,000 miles away and my hubby got a bug and threw up the whole day while I tried to drive on icy roads in blizzarding conditions. We ended up getting a motel that we couldn’t afford but we had no other choice (and thankfully have an emergency fund to cover things like that). The next day, all 4 kids were in pull-ups for uncontrollable diarrhea and we had awful episodes of trying to change them in public restrooms in icky gas station bathrooms while they screamed in agony because they felt horrible. I have never been so exhausted and grossed-out in my life! Thankfully, I was downing Kefir like crazy and didn’t catch it myself. When we got home I kissed the ground in relief, only to discover that my husband had turned off the heat and water to save money (it was still winter conditions) and so we froze all night and my puke-covered kids had to bathe in cold water that night. I had a very hard time being thankful on that trip but my husband had a better attitude and praised God that we didn’t have a car wreck and were all alive after that trip. And since my birthday was a puke storm, my family and friends made it up to me by having a “do-over” birthday later! This was a great post Crystal!

  8. Heather says

    My sympathies. I am also so thankful for running water and a washing machine in those situations, but I am also thankful for NO carpet (not even in the bedrooms) in our house! I don’t know how the rest of you do it!

  9. Brighid says

    It seems like it’s going around! I too have had cause to be thankful despite the tummy bug. We were supposed to be going away to a long awaited three day trip to Washington DC. We cancelled our plans out of frugality but it turned out for the best. One, the aforementioned tummy bug has moved onto person #3 in the family (thankfully one a day), we had a significant snowstorm which would have made travel even more difficult and an extended family member ended up in the hospital. Trying to deal with any of these would have made the vacation less than ideal and while I miss fun, I’m grateful for cell coverage, a warm house, a dedicated driveway plow-person and my own bathroom!

  10. Emily says

    Also – be thankful it didn’t happen at the usual time which is 1 or 2 in the morning. I have not-so-fond memories of doing laundry at 3 in the morning. I hope none of the other kids (or you or your husband) get it and it’s only a 24-hr kind..

  11. Jenni says

    I was up with a vomiting child at 4 AM this morning! But, I was thankful that I was with him, because we have two little ones on the other side of the world who we are adopting and right now I can’t be with them when they are sick or hurting or scared.

  12. Kandace says

    We had a similar experience a few weeks ago. Only one of our children got sick. So strange. What kind of carpet cleaner do you have? After that incident, I thought about getting something to help with the cleanup of messes like that.

  13. michelle says

    The flu went through our house this past spring my husband, me, then each child had a turn. The Lord gave me a kind and willing heart to care for my family instead of complaining. I was grateful I had the ability to care and clean up after each of them. Thankful for hardwood floors, hot running water, rubber gloves, and sanitation cycle on the washing machine :)

  14. Diane L. says

    Oh, my goodness. I arrived home this evening and discovered my cat had peed on the Christmas tree skirt. I can’t begin to imagine what possessed her to do that! Anyway, I did not respond in a very positive manner.
    After cleaning it up, I read your blog post, and all I could do was sit down and laugh because suddenly my mess seems so trivial compared to your’s.
    I hope your precious child recovers quickly!

  15. Kerri says

    My son was just sick with the stomach flu, not sure why couldn’t make it to the garbage can or throw up on the towels but he missed every time. After awhile, I just needed to laugh. Throw up in bed, while cleaning up, missed the garbage can and throw up on the floor. It was a crazy few days. I do understand… Thank goodness, no one else in my family got sick. Also, trying to catch it with your hands just doesn’t work either :-) Hope he feels better soon.

  16. Heather Jones says

    Oh, I feel you, right now! So needed to read this as I currently lay with my coughing, sick daughter. Stay healthy!

  17. grace brewer says

    great post….all 3 of my kids had the stomach flu along with both my hubby and I….and unfortunately with the kids it wasnt just vomit (vomit doesnt really bother me too much) this is the first year of my married life I have owned a washing machine and am REALLY thankful for it! (also at our last rented apartment we had 3 little kids and no bathtub only a shower) thats another thing I am thankful for!

  18. Hollie says

    Thank you for this post! My son has the stomach flu and I was just cleaning him and his bedding up about an hour ago. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful, even in the midst of a stressful situation.

  19. says

    Thank God for the washing machine dryer and bleach. For paper towels and lysol. For sanitation workers. I think of the pioneer women who were always alone and without good sanitation a shower or fresh towels. Hope everyone feels better!

  20. says

    People always ask how I always stay positive and push through some very significant problems and it always came down to focusing on what I HAD THAT WAS GOOD in spite of everything bad. If you can be grateful for even one tiny thing in the face of adversity life can still feel wonderful!!

  21. lori says

    I was up all night with a sick kid with the same bug. Thanks for the reminder! (Fingers crossed nobody else gets it here, either.)

  22. Pam says

    While going through the same flu and diarreha with several of the kids I babysit for I was feeling blessed that it was the flu and not the head lice that several other school families were being sent home with. At least you can smell it and see if to clean it!

  23. says

    I took my son for his well baby checkup the day before his first birthday, nine years ago. While we were sitting in the doctor’s office, the nurse kept taking calls from people complaining of stomach flu and asking her what they should do. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that maybe we’d been exposed to the virus. We washed our hands really well when we left the office but it was too late. The following morning, on the first birthday, when we were expecting a crowd of people later for a party, we all one by one started projectile vomiting and were overcome with weakness. It was horrible. My husband and I had never been that violently ill before in our lives and our poor little son spent his first birthday with the flu. We had to cancel the party. It was just awful. Luckily, we all got sick in the kitchen and living room on hardwood and tile flooring. :)

  24. says

    I’m sorry to hear one of your kiddos is sick. Prayers it doesn’t last long and it skips everybody else in the house! What a great reminder of how our perspective can change our attitudes. Thank you!

    • Laura says

      Thank you for your story!!! Dealing with this myself, as I type!!! Thank you for reminding me that it could have been worst! Although now I have to endure endless hours of Dora the Explorer and other cartoons with my sick sweet boy!

  25. susie says

    It really helps me to think that way too. The other day it was -10 degrees and we had a kid get sick, I told my husband., “I am so thankful for washers, dryers and hot running water!” It made me realize how easy we have it when cleaning messes up!

  26. Amanda Koopman says

    I have sick kids home since yesterday, and I laughed when I read this post today (cause I didn’t have time yesterday) because I kept saying “thank God I have a washing machine” because my little one kept throwing up on himself (changed clothes every 20 minutes or so) and his bedding, and I was laughing at him because he was so goofy when he wasn’t “sick”… I didn’t do any housework yesterday except laundry, I had chicken soup cooking in the crockpot (kiddos love my chicken soup), and we sat and snuggled and watched movies all day, and now with all 3 kiddos home, we’re doing it all over again (except my oldest is still helping me with some stuff around the house, even with her feeling like crap)

  27. Sarah says

    This so reminds me of Pollyanna and the “Glad Game.” :-)
    Yes, but aren’t you glad that…
    It’s certainly more pleasant to be around folks who look for a bright side to things.

  28. Diana says

    OH man this just happened to me too! Friday at1am my six year old woke up vomiting. My husband, who was up late studying, came to get me. The sight of my son sitting in the bathroom covered in vomit looking totally defeated just broke my heart and helped motivate me to think of him first instead of all the work that was waiting for me. He really was COVERED. Some blessings, we have a great walk in shower and in he went, cleaned right up! He only vomited on his bed and not on the carpet, I rejoiced right away! And even when I got the flu I was glad that my body could build up the immunities to pass onto my two month old who I am currently nursing. I agree it totally helps to put things in perspective! How amazing that your older child offered to help. That brought tears to my eyes…who in their right mind would volunteer to clean up vomit? You have wonderful children.

  29. Melissa says

    Thank you for sharing your positive outlook. You have challenged me to look at yesterdays events through a different, more positive lense. Yesterday my dog was diagnosed with cancer. This does make me very sad, but there is a lot to be grateful for even in this situation. He is 14 years old and has lived a happy life and we’ve shared a lot of happy memories. He does not appear to be in a lot of pain. I am thankful that the problem was caught now. We should have more test results back in a few days which should enable us to make some decisions about how to procede with his care.

  30. Jennye says

    About 12 years ago when my oldest was 3, an experienced mom advised me to have a ”sick bucket” or bowl for them to keep close by in bed, on the couch, on the floor, etc for if/when they cannot make it to the toilet. We used it right before Thanksgiving this year for my youngest, a very long night. Hope all are better soon!

  31. MonicaBerry says

    Well, this hits close to home today. Last night I was the last member of the household to come down with the stomach flu. The baby had it Fri night/Sat morn, the almost 4yo Sun night/Mon morn, my hubby was hit Mon afternoon & then me abt. a half hour past midnight last night. Ugh.
    I, too, spent some time counting blessings; like the fact that we didn’t all have it at once & my hubby & I were able to take turns watching the kids & napping. I probably spent a lot more time wallowing in self-pity though.
    Thanks for the perspective.

  32. Nicole says

    Thanks so much for sharing this story. I really needed the friendly reminder today to always be thankful for my many blessings!

  33. Vicki says

    My mom gave me a hint years ago when my kids were small – always carry some baking soda in the diaper bag to sprinkle on your clothes when your baby burps and something comes up. It will take that sour smell away. Vomit is worse, of course, but that baking soda really does help. Sprinkle it on and give it a few minutes to work.

  34. Jessica says

    I feel the same way about stomach bugs. I’m always thankful that I know health is just a few days away though. I always think of moms who have children with something far worse, such as cancer. I quite thankful for the tummy flu then.

  35. Courtney says

    I found this so ironic yesterday! I had just read the title of your post–hadn’t even read the whole thing yet!–and went downstairs to find that one of mine had vomited 360 degrees around the bathroom. At least it was the bathroom! :) Thankfully he threw up twice yesterday and not since then. I’m praying the other five (plus DH and me) don’t get it!!

    And I agree with you–there is always something to be thankful for. Even in the midst of vomit.

  36. Becky says

    Thank you for reminding us to be thankful–even in hard situations. Our oldest son, who has leukemia, just underwent the second stem cell transplant for this year. We remind ourselves daily that his situation could be much worse. We are grateful to still have him here and are hopeful that someday, someone will find a sure cure for cancer. God has truly been gracious to us!

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