As a parent, you always know that your time will come. You can try not to think about it, dodge it for a while, keep your fingers crossed that it won’t happen to you, but we all know it’s inevitable. Your child is going to get chicken pox.
Ours came without a warning. Freya woke up in the middle of the night, complaining that she had a spot on her back that was sore. A brief examination showed a small red lump that I thought, incorrectly, was a bite. I applied some cream and shuffled her back off to bed.
The next morning we are all merrily getting ready for school, completely unaware of the horror about to come. I remove Freya’s pyjamas and there they are. Spots. Lots of them. All over her back and torso, under her armpits and down her legs. Darn it.
I took some photos of the offending items and sent them to my sister. She works in a nursery so is my go-to person when I need a diagnosis of a childhood illness. She agrees that they look like chicken pox, but recommends that I take Freya to the doctors to get it confirmed on her medical records. By now, I am supposed to be at work, but have had to ring to say I might be a little late.
The rest of the morning was spent booking doctors’ appointments (very quick – confirmed chicken pox), arranging childcare, buying medicine and generally trying to be a good parent and look after the little spotty creature. When I finally rolled into work it was nearly 1pm in the afternoon.
Freya still has some of the spots, even though it’s been two weeks to the day since they first appeared, but she is now back at school and seems to be back to her normal self. And then, as if by magic, Poppy broke out in spots yesterday. So now I get to do it all again.
So, what I have learned from my chicken pox experience. Here are my top tips for dealing with chicken pox:
1) Cream it up, baby: Our doctor recommended we use calamine cream, not lotion, as apparently the lotion is drying. Freya hated the calamine and said it was stingy ( she is a bit of a delicate flower). Grandma suggested we use Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour cream (she uses this to treat all ailments). I’m not entirely sure if that was appropriate stuff to use on chicken pox or not, but Freya didn’t complain and at least it felt like we were doing something.
2) Stock up on medicines: We used Calpol (good ole’ faithful) for Freya’s temperature and then children’s Piriton for the itching. She didn’t really like the Piriton but could be encouraged to take it by pretending we were in Mary Poppins (you know the bit I mean)
3) Find some light relief: I gave Freya a cold flannel to press on the spots when they were bothering her. This helped to sooth them a little and was a preferable alternative to scratching.
4) Give them a role model: We found an episode of Woolly and Tig, one of Freya’s favourite TV shows, where Tig gets chicken pox. Seeing one of her favourite characters dealing with the same problems helped Freya to cope better with the idea of being ill.
5) Distraction, distraction, distraction: At one point, Freya woke up at 9pm, complaining of the itching, but couldn’t have any more medicine for over an hour. I put a film she likes on her iPad and before you knew it, she’d forgotten all about the spots. I managed to get her to wait until 11pm before having the medicine, thus helping her to get a much better nights’ sleep.
So, there you have it. How we survived our first (and hopefully, only, bout of chicken pox) At the time of writing I now have my little baby bug upstairs covered in the little spotty demons and I feel so sorry for her. Hopefully she’ll sail through it like Freya did and then we can put this sorry experience behind us.
Do you have any top tips for coping with chicken pox? Leave them in the comments below. I’m very grateful for any advice.