The Nine Circles of Stomach Bug: A Guide for Parents


Having children means you will spend much of your time vomiting. Not just while pregnant but throughout their childhoods. Indeed a canny dictator could use my second child as a Weapon of Mass Destruction.

In your life before children, you had the odd bug every two to four years (probably contracted from a selfish work colleague who had kids). So what did you do? You called in sick, got yourself a bucket and retired to your clean, king-sized bed. Maybe you wept softly. Watched telly. Read your book.

Well, along with every other personal and physical dignity you lose when you have kids, being sick alone is another one to add to the list. This is what will happen now, a dystopian nightmare unfolding:

Stage 1: Innocence              

There will be no warning. Your children are happily playing and the very next second they will be sick on you. You will inexplicably try to catch it in your hands and then run around with it in an attempt to save the sofa. This is futile, accept it.

Stage 2: Loneliness

You will beg other people to help you but they will shun you and daub paint on your front door. You are alone and trapped in your house, cast adrift on a sea of vomit. Your nearest and dearest have ditched you, as you would them in the same situation.

Stage 3: Fear

The fear is almost the worst part. They’ve got it, who is going down next? ‘Will it be me? I can’t cope if it’s me.’

Stage 4: Delusion and Realisation

Just when you think you are out of the woods (‘maybe I have had this one? I feel alright!’), your top lip will start to sweat; you realise you have been sitting in an uncomfortable position, an untouched glass of warm white wine in your limp hand, watching a documentary about sharks. You are going down my friend.

Stage 5: Action

At this crucial juncture you need to act fast, because the world you were holding onto with your fingertips will rapidly slip from your grasp.

You must command any other healthy adult who is responsible for your children to cancel their life. They will try to get out of it, mumbling feeble excuses about work. Firmly impress upon them just how bad you can make their existence when this is all over.

Stage 6: Brace

Get towels, comfortable clothing and ban any cooking of sausages. You only have six minutes at best to implement this.

Stage 7: Climax

You’ve got it, they’ve got it, everyone’s got it. Now, for the first time in your pampered life, you will be clearing up other people’s sick whilst being sick yourself.  You will be staring down the toilet while two fevered, puking goblins attempt to mount your back and claw at your eyes.

The last thing you ate before you descended into this abyss will reappear, first through your mouth then over and over in your mind’s eye until you make solemn, pleading vows never to eat food again. You will wish for a clean, swift death.

Stage 8: Acceptance

This is your life now. It will always be like this.

Stage 9: Re-entry

After two to five days you will emerge from this Orwellian hinterland, raise your withered eyebrows and think ‘ooo I’m a bit peckish’. But what do you eat? You have to be careful here. Any health-promoting food containing vegetables is out because the sliminess of cooked vegetables is unthinkable. What you need is salt, salt and more salt.

You have two options:

  1. Garage Bread toast and Marmite. Garage Bread is the cheapest white bread you can find in a petrol station shop.
  2. Chinese food. Either from a takeaway or this recipe for Chinese chicken. It’s nothing special but to you it will taste rapturous*

You can now pat yourself on the back, you got through it. Until the next time…

IMG_3914Serves 2    Prep: 10 mins    Cook: 10 mins

2 chicken breasts, chopped into thin strips

Bunch spring onions, sliced

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp mirin or dry sherry

1 tsp chilli sauce (I used sriracha)

Packet of microwave rice

In a wok, fry the spring onions and garlic in a slosh of oil. Add the chicken pieces and cook until nearly done. Mix the sauces together and add to the wok. Coat the chicken and heat through. Microwave the rice. Serve with extra chilli sauce, if you can stomach it.

*I realise that all my talk of being sick may have caused some unwelcome associations with this dinner.


10 thoughts on “The Nine Circles of Stomach Bug: A Guide for Parents

  1. This is so funny, and spot on! A month or so ago my daughter was struck down with it, and 2 days later I still felt fine and totally convinced myself I had defeated the bug. I was so wrong. Everything happened exactly as u describe. It was a fate worse then death, and I now live in constant fear of it infecting us all again!! Xxx


  2. “You will be staring down the toilet while two fevered, puking goblins attempt to mount your back and claw at your eyes.”

    You’ve met my children then….. this actually made me laugh out loud 😀


Leave a Reply to pinnersdinners Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s