I could hear my son's vomit hitting the carpet before it even registered in my sleepy mind.
It still surprises me how much vomit can come out of a child - and with such force. It is like an exorcism and it doesn't stop until their tiny bodies are empty.
It was 11.30pm and we had only been asleep a short time. My husband and I jumped into action and quickly ushered a shocked, half-asleep 7-year-old in the direction of the bathroom while fielding vomit left, right and centre.
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After we made sure he was okay and popped him in the shower, we surveyed the damage.
My boys share a bedroom and unfortunately in this occasion the 7-year-old's bed is the furthest from the door. There was an unimaginable amount of mess to clean up. My husband and I did not know where to start, but in our sleepy state sprang into action like any parent would, arming ourselves with buckets of hot water, cleaning products, gloves and mountains of towels as we worked to clean up the bedroom while Master Five slept through it all (even with the lights on!).
With the initial middle-of-the-night clean-up complete, I retreated downstairs with Master Seven to share the spare bed and to be on standby in case round two should ensue.
Tucked up beside me was a child lying on even more towels with a bowl between us and his tiny shocked body trying to get as close to me as possible for reassurance. I sighed, thinking how lucky husband was upstairs in our own bed getting a good night's sleep. I wouldn't change it, though. Like people repeatedly tell you, these young years really don't last all that long. I was there to comfort him.
I put my first load of sheets in the washing machine at midnight, getting a head start on the day ahead. Thankfully there was no more throwing up.
My washing machine continued without a break from 8am the next morning until 4pm the same day. I must have washed nearly every towel we own that was employed in the clean-up. Sheets, valances, duvets, and pillows all had their turn in the washing machine and dryer. The clothesline was full and my day was confined to making sure my 7-year-old felt supported in his recovery efforts, in between washing, hanging and folding laundry.
Master Five wasn't impressed that school should still continue for him and reluctantly went off for his day.
I rang my own mum as we so often do and convinced her to come around to help with clean-up round two. We scrubbed like the orphans in Annie, leaving no spot unwashed. We used baking soda and white vinegar. Thank goodness for old carpet. I think I'll save getting new carpet until my children have left home.
I managed to escape for a precious half an hour to grab a coffee and headed to the supermarket for more cleaning supplies.
I was angry to see that the Coronavirus panic buyers had cleaned the aisles of sanitisers, toilet paper and disinfectants. I mean, I had a genuinely sick child at home and couldn't buy what I needed.
Frustrated, I returned home to more washing, drying and folding and nursing a lethargic boy.
Being a parent isn't that glamorous at times, experience qualifies us as medical-grade cleaners and home nurses.
Each time a child is sick we stop what we are doing to be fully present for their care. I remember feeling guilty when I was sick and needed to take a sick day off work for myself. When you have children, there is no guilt; it is so much easier to take time off because we know just how much they need us when they have no one else.
With the cooler weather coming, so too do the bugs. Remember that while coronavirus remains a real threat, we mustn't ignore that perspective is also important to hold on to.
Panic buying doesn't help those who genuinely need these products at specific times.
Panic buying doesn't stop our children or ourselves picking up other horrible bugs, be it gastro or viral.
Practising basic hygiene is something we should all be doing anyway, not just stepping it up in panic because of a new global viral threat.
Practise common sense and self-hygiene, if you are sick, take time to get better. Do not spread germs by pushing through in populated areas or environments.
Teach your children to wash and dry their hands all the time, and to cough and sneeze responsibly into a tissue or elbow. These are all basic ways we can help reduce all germs and bugs from spreading.
Now, back to folding more towels. Let's hope Master Five doesn't catch this vomiting bug.