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8 Hacks to Surviving Twin Toddlers with the Stomach Bug

Enter another topic that there is nothing about on the Internet for twin parents and a day that I dreaded. A stomach bug with not one...but both Mom and Dad.

My entire life, I have hated vomit. I would rather be sick in bed for days before throwing up just once...and that is just for me. I don't want to hear it, smell it, etc. As a babysitter I used to joke that if a kid fell and broke their arm and there was blood and guts everywhere, I was fine....but if they threw up on it, I was out. And I was only half joking.

Enter motherhood (or really pregnancy for that matter) and vomit quickly becomes a fact of life. I think we are conditioned as new parents to manage spit up, which is basically milk thrown up, over and over again to prepare us for these big bugs.

As a twin household, we typically stack our girl gets it and is sick....and just as she is feeling better, her sister gets it....and then sometimes it goes back to the first girl (because the virus has mutated in some form and she catches it again)...before we rid it from our house.

But this stomach bug was different. It was both the same Dad. And just to make sure she felt included, our dog kindly vomited as well. It took our entire house down for 48 hours...and a full 7 days for everyone to recover fully...but sharing some hacks that made the awful experience a bit more manageable and set us up for success (where success could be had).

Quick picture of me stocking up on ginger ale, powerade, and saltines during nap.

1. Have a puke bucket handy

I thought every family grew up with puke buckets, but I learned with the first round of a stomach bug last spring that is not true. My husband looked at me like I was nuts when I mentioned it (clearly, they were fast runners who always made it to the toilet)....whereas, in my house, my mom had "the puke bucket," a metal bowl that we all hurled into, while running to the toilet. (PS-I have a version of that bowl in my house and I still can't seem to use it to cook with given my childhood experiences).

In the Fox house, our puke bucket is the leftover plastic family pack of deli meat container. Perfect because they are lightweight, stack inside of each other, and are totally free. We basically get a "new one" every time I am at Costco.

We always have one under the sink in the girl's bathroom for when a stomach bug comes on.

In this instance, since I was rotating between two vomiting twins, I kept them on the floor of the hallways so I could grab one before running in (since it was always a mystery as to who was going to vomit next).

They can be quickly cleaned afterwards, dishwasher safe, and guilt free if you throw them in the garbage.

No puke bucket handy? For me, I focus on just getting them to wood or tile and stopping. I used to try to run to the bathroom when upstairs or to the kitchen sink when downstairs....inevitably leaving a vomit trail along the way. I would prefer to get them to somewhere that is easy to clean and just letting it come up before continuing on. One large mess is easier than a long trail of messes that you then have to navigate around.

2. Double your mattress pads

We have survived 2+ years of twins with 5 fitted sheets - an extra set to swap to and one for backup in case someone is really sick....but the double mattress pads was a game changer. The idea came from our nanny and she recommended it to make it easier to wash sheets when the girls were younger (since there often wasn't a long enough wake window to get everything washed, dried, and changed).

Queue the middle of the night when someone just remove the sheet, top mattress pad, put a new sheet on and you are golden.

We use these as our primary mattress protectors (I like the full zip) and this as our easy on/off on top.

I generally wait until the morning to wash the full zip one, but find that it is super repellent. I have also lined under their sheets with what gym towels (see item 4 below) when we were traveling and they were in pack n plays while sick (and there was not an option to do laundry of everything in the middle of the night.

3. Have a MOTN backup basket of everything

One of the challenges with twins who share a that when there is an issue, how to help one, without disturbing the other? Especially in the middle of the night. The girl's bedroom closet is stocked with a "middle of the night emergency basket."

Priority 1 was always to get them out of the room (see above) Since the twin's room is carpet, I just wanted to get them to the wood floor of the hallway.

After tending to the sick kid, don't want to have to fumble to get everything she needs to be comfortable and back to bed. Instead, I grab my MOTN basket, new PJs, and I am set.

Our basket has:

  • sheets

  • blankets

  • lovies

  • pacifiers

  • large plastic garbage bags (for clean up if needed)

  • lavender hand lotion (to help calm them down and rid any bad smells)

4. Line the floor around all sides of the crib

Who wants to be scrubbing carpet at 2am? (or ever for that matter?) Once we established there was a stomach bug, I quickly lined the floor around their cribs with large white towels (more on my love for those towels below).

After the first few rounds of vomit (which were largely in their crib), the girls were standing and crying before it actually came up. The beauty (sort of) was that I had a brief heads up to run (and grab the bucket) because I knew vomit was coming. But I wasn't always fast enough, didn't catch it all, or in the nights that followed, it caught me off guard and I missed it entirely. These towels were a perfect drop cloth to catch it, easy to clean, and no damage to the carpet.

I posted a video on TikTok with some of these hacks - and people also recommended garbage bags and shower curtain liners.

5. White towels for clean up

You know from my potty training hacks, that I am a huge fan of white towels (hand towels and full size), for their ease. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Clorox wipes, paper towels, and wipes for just about everything, but when it comes to pee and puke, I think towels are easier, especially with the volume of it that can come from twins.

I kept them stacked outside the girls room to easily wipe them up with and lined the room with them. Once the girls were back in their bed, I would wash them clean in the bathtub, and toss them in the laundry machine with bleach.

This was also an opportunity for us to actually clean up toys that we used to leave in the bathtub. After removing all the toys at 1am, I purchased this bathtime organizer which made clean up much faster.

6. Restock after every round

Twin moms know to always be prepared! Stomach bugs are no exception. Once the sick girl was back in bed, laundry would go on, quick sanitize of everything (via Clorox wipes and Lysol) and clean towels back out.

7. If you're sick too, keep them in their high chairs

I may get crap for this one, but on Sunday morning, when Dad couldn't get out of bed, and I was running to the toilet every 20 minutes myself, I needed somewhere for the girls to be contained, but was also ok if they got sick.

I set them up in their high chairs, with silicone collector bibs (LOVE my KeaBabies bibs because they are a bit bigger than others and stand up well in the dishwasher), they were able to snack on bananas and toast, with puke buckets in hand, watching TV, while I lay on the couch.

Picture from about 11AM on Sunday - 12 hours into the bug, with Mickey as our guide.

8. Rules go out the window

I am stealing this one from my mom, but when kids are sick, rules go out the window. We watched TV for 3 days, stayed in PJs, took baths in the middle of the day, and ate bananas, toast, yogurt, goldfish, and what ever people wanted until tummies were feeling better.

I don't wish a family-wide bug on anyone...but I will admit, it was pretty amazing that at 28 months old, Jayna could say "throw up" about 5 seconds before she actually did, giving me a moment to act (and catch). Is it going to be easier next time? Probably not. But at least I know we can make it out of the otherside.

Pop up "heart" pillows and blankets for them to snuggle on while I was working


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Kristen, a first-time Mom of identical twin girls who are 3. I work full-time, teach group fitness classes, and am on the wild ride of motherhood.

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