Elisabeth Röhm’s Blog: Sick ‘n Tired of Being Sick ‘n Tired

07/07/2011 at 08:00 AM ET

Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, has a busy year ahead of her.

The actress, 38, can be seen on the big screen in the upcoming films Chlorine, Transit, Abduction and Officer Down, and is found online on Facebook and @ElisabethRohm on Twitter.

In her latest blog, Röhm, fiancé Ron Anthony and 3-year-old daughter Easton August are wrapping up work in the Big Apple and preparing to fly home to California when a bug hits them all. What gives?

Please share your best tips and tricks related to constant childhood illnesses!

Leaving on a jet plane – Courtesy Elisabeth Röhm

“There is no place like home, there is no place like home, there is no place like home,” Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz as she clicked her sparkly red shoes together. I love that movie!

It’s our last day on set in N.Y.C. and I’m feeling exactly the same way. Why, you might ask? Not because being on the road for two months isn’t fun, or because I miss the awesome bed Ron got us for Christmas, or the sweet smell of the ocean wafting through our windows or the peace of our backyard in comparison to the great madness of the city. No, it isn’t any of those things really.

It is because — bummer of all bummers — we got sick two days before leaving the Big Apple. Yuck! One of those terrible illnesses that you get from the little ones. What is it with camps, daycares and schools being petri-dishes for the most potent and bizarre viruses that I’d never seen the likes of before parenthood?

I know there are real scientific reasons for this, but it just seems like someone’s cruel sense of humor — that on top of all we do as parents, we also have to endure a peculiar cold on a monthly basis. I’m seriously having sensations I’ve never had before … and I’m worried about our world!

The usual symptoms of the familiar flu don’t resemble any of these bugs we’ve picked up from Easton and her friends along the way. Not to mention that they are potent buggers that manage to penetrate even the most vitamin-proficient, balanced diet, fitness freak of a person over and over again and knock-em to their knees, while the little one laughs it off and manages to recover, being over and done with it in 48 hours.

I know, I get it, moms — she’s building her immune system . But it truly feels like this onslaught of bugs and critters that we pick up along the way from our babes are eroding our more sturdy systems. I guess if you want to take some people down … just bring them around sick little people. It’d be all over!

Ron and I had just commented on how nice it was to have a sick-free zone at home — and then we made the tragic mistake of putting Easton in summer camp. So in these last days of our New York trip, we all got knocked down, banged up and plum tuckered out by some strange little-person illness. Oh, the joy of a summer cold!

I’m sure now that Easton is recovered, we’ll soon follow on the road to recovery. Not to worry though, Mom and Dad, because summer school starts next week. Just in time to get the next little bugger of a cold!

I know these children are absorbent sponges for all things they come into contact with. They are clean slates and that’s one of the many reasons why we love them. And yes, it seems that even if we cleaned them with Brillo pads they — like shrimp at the bottom of the ocean — would pick up all the dirty debris out and about.

Still, I beg you moms — clean your kiddies, brush their teeth, wipe their drippy faces, clean their crusty noses and wash their paws, too. We have to be diligent. Hygiene is so important, as I’m sure you will agree. I realize it can’t all be solved with this type of hyper-awareness, but I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have a great impact if more parents exerted themselves in this department.

Oh, and please keep your kids at home if they are sick. That would be ever so helpful, right?! I can barely count the numerous times I’ve seen sick kids out and about, rubbing elbows, bumping shoulders and exchanging illnesses.

I know that we working parents struggle with the oh-so-inconvenient news that our children are flu-ish, but I promise the answer is bed and soup — not taking them to school, camp, daycare, etc. Not to mention all of this drama is very stressful as we juggle work and other parental responsibilities. Life is just not as fun with a drippy nose, ticklish tonsils and a heavy head, right moms?

The question, PEOPLE.com readers — is this just the way it is, the way it’s always been, the way it will always be with our tikes? Or is this a hygiene issue? Is this part of the natural process of things or do dirty hands have everything to do with it?

I’m an avid washer/wiper/scrubber/cleaner/bather — not necessarily a germaphobe, but I do like to stay shiny and clean. I like seeing it in children too! I’m always impressed when a kid is tended to in that way. So I guess that makes me more aware of the chronic problem I see with our wee ones and their peers. Where do you stand, ladies? Is cleanliness next to Godliness? I’m inclined to think so!

Here’s to our health, moms!!

— Elisabeth Röhm

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Showing 24 comments

Erin on

Oh my gosh, I love it! It’s like I wrote this. I have a 3 year-old son and have struggled with this his first 2 years of daycare. But now, cross my fingers, he seems to be doing better as if his little immune system is getting stronger and so he is getting sicker far less often.

It’s so hard because I do work full time (and with kids so you’d think I’d have a super strong system!).

Hang in there, it’ll get a little easier.

Sherri on

I am a borderline germaphobe. My kids shower daily, and dirty fingernails and ears totally gross me out. I clean my house top to bottom at least every week.

I have 3 boys who do all the “boy things” and have always been involved in sports, summer camp, school activities, etc. When the older 2 were really little my job allowed me to stay home with them. We were almost never sick. When the youngest was 3, though, we decided to put him in preschool for that “jump start” into kindergarten. We thought we’d be bombarded by illness. No so! We got sick as a family about once, maybe twice a year. Not bad, seeing as how we were a family of 5.

Then I discovered antibacterial soap and cleaners. I didn’t realize it at the time, but for about 5 years it seemed someone was constantly sick! Heaven forbid somebody get the flu, we’d pass it around twice to every member of the family, with me antibacterializing everything in sight and within reach of little fingers on a daily basis.

And then I read an article about how we are harming our immune systems by not allowing some germs in. Our bodies need to fight germs on a constant basis, a little at a time, daily. I stopped buying all the antibacterial soaps and cleaners. I now clean my house with “green” cleaners weekly, still scrub the kids nightly in the tub, and when we get sick I still wash down the house with my “green” cleaners to take the cooties away.

It’s now been 3 years…and we, once again, only get sick about once or twice a year. When the flu comes knocking, there are usually a few of us who dodge a bullet and don’t get it, and those who do only get it once. We don’t get flu shots. We do take vitamins, always have, always will.

Hope this helps…oh, and “knock on wood” that we all stay healthy (sometimes I think it’s posts like this that tempt fate and get us ill..haha).

ClaireSamsmom on

Amen! I understand that our children will pick up germs and illnesses and the whole “strengthen the immunity” thing….but, I honestly know several people who have sent their kids to school, loaded with motrin and the poor kids are just too sick to even be there! And you see it all the time in the grocery store, Target, etc…..don’t take your sick kid out. Stay home and give them the chance to get better.

I am not OCD….but, yes, I love a good, deep clean in my house, I wipe my kids hands when they are back from being out and I encourage hand washing. I wiped my daughters hands in the car with a sani wipe every day when I picked her up from preschool. And upon coming home, we put our shoes in the garage and change to playclothes. I know this isn’t always practical, but I tried to limit the amount of yuck on my kid..after being at school. Yes, we have been sick before….very sick with stomach bugs, and the occasional virus….but, we try to avoid it by being as sanitary as we can.

Just my opinion….. Good blog, Elisabeth!

P on

I think it’s important for babies/kids to be as clean as possible. It not only about hygiene, but to keep a good impression. A month ago I took my lil sister to McDonald’s and I swear to God, there was this girl who had her nose dripping and neither her dad, her mom or the nanny could wipe it off. No one! She came to my table to grab the toy that comes inside the Happy meal… I had the urge to take it away from her.

Normal rules of hygiene, like clipping their nails, keeping their faces clean, and stuff like that can keep you and your kids healthy.

Tracy on

My son is about to turn three in a couple of weeks and wow, I think we’ve had just about every illness imaginable! Everyone tells me that the first three years are the toughest with illnesses and I sure hope they’re right.

I keep my son home from day care when he is sick (unless he just has the sniffles/runny nose/no fever/generally happy). It’s two-fold: 1) I know how I feel when I’m sick – I don’t want to go to work and would much rather stay in my jammies and snuggle under the blankets. I’m sure he feels the same way and 2) It’s common courtesy to other parents to do my best not to infect their kids and keep the viral cycle going.

I’m a firm believer in hand-washing and I’m doing my best to teach my son that it’s a good way to keep the “sick bugs” away.

mommytoane on

I think its also impt to teach your child how to keep clean. As little as 2, they can understand to wash their hands before they eat, or not to stick a toy into their mouth….or to wash their hands when you get back from somewhere.

My DD didn’t attend preschools, or any schools/daycares before she was in Kindergarten. The first year was hell…she was sick a lot. 1st grade rolled around…we had two colds. 2nd grade….not a bloody thing, but she brought home a few things to share with mom! An immune system does not require an onslaught of germs to be good. Some are just weak, and to be honest…a healthy diet helps more than breaking kids into germs. That’s just like saying that for SURE the MMR will prevent everything it says it will….untrue. Did you know, some people build resistances and never become immune to these diseases no matter how many times they are vaccinated? Kids get sick. Adults get sick. Best thing we can do is make sure that we drink a lot (required daily amount for kids and adults), eat healthy, and practice good hygene ourselves.

SO….you want Easton not to get sick. Teach her to wash her hands after playing with toys, not to stick toys in her mouth, to cough into her ELBOW not her hand, to drink a lot,a nd to eat healthy. Preaching to other parents won’t help. You’ll still have the ones that send their kids to school sick as a dog.

jessicad on

I always keep my daughter home at least 2 days when she’s sick, always. Her school is pretty good about making sick kids go home, but I still see a ton of coughing and sneezing around there. I understand if both parents have to work and they don’t have a choice, but I know quite a few stay at home moms who take their kids in when they could easily keep them home, I find that extremely selfish. Being sick is no fun, and paying for Dr. visits every month get expensive.

I’ve even started asking a certain friend of mine if her kids have been sick before we go over, we would always end up with a cold after visiting her because she wouldn’t warn me. I’d see her chasing the kids around trying to wipe green snot before anyone saw, just so she could have company I guess.

I don’t remember being sick all the time when I was little, so maybe things are changing!

Hilary on

I have been a toddler teacher at a childcare center for two years now and I have been sick more times within the past two years than probably the previous ten years before that. This is with taking vitamins daily, washing my hands a zillion times a day, and changing clothes and taking a shower when I get home every day.

A lot of our parents are pretty good at keeping their child home when they are sick, but there are still those parents that won’t (or can’t) take a day or two off work to let their child stay home and get better. We do our best to implement good hand washing practices with the kids (washing after coming inside, before we eat, after hands have been in their mouths, ALWAYS after using the potty or even having their diaper changed, etc.) and to keep the classrooms and play areas clean and sanitary. We try to send home a child as soon as we can when we see a child is sick. Did you know that most childcare centers or schools have certain rules for sending sick children home? Such as their fevers have to be at a certain temperature or if it’s not high enough, they have to have a certain amount of other symptoms?

Some of the parents that have had a sick child sent home before know these rules and will take advantage of it like it’s a game. This is NOT a game! Some parents will even give their children medicine before sending them to school so that they can get a few hours of work in before the medicine wears off and the teachers realize that the child is sick. Please, please, PLEASE keep your child home if he or she is sick! What just as or maybe even more important is to implicate the same healthy habits at home that we try to implicate at school, most specifically the hand-washing, sneezing, and keeping things out of mouths (or mouths off of things).

Dawn on

I am in agreement that you keep sick kids home, but I also believe that the reason there is so much illness around is because people are TOO obsessed with using anti-bacterials. Not all bacteria is harmful and actually boosts the immune system. Our immune systems are so weak because everyone is so ready to use antibacterial hand gel, soap, spray etc, that we can’t build up the proper immunities to ward off illnesses.

Yes, wipe your kids noses, wash your hands afterward,that is common sense, but I do think we try to de-germ ourselves and houses a little too much.

Krissy on

You can’t expect mothers to wash and clean their children when many of them leave public restrooms without washing their own hands!!!!!! They fix their make up but don’t wash their hands…now that is gross.

Sarah on

I agree, Elisabeth! I try to keep my daughter Ann Coleman as clean as possible. I don’t go overboard with it because she does go to day care and has been going since she was 3 months old. Things are bound to come up! But parents cane make a big difference in keeping their children well. My daughter was also a Juice Plus baby! I took Juice Plus while pregnant and now that she can- she takes Juice Plus as well. They have a children’s health study that has some remarkable research- fewer doctor visits, fewer days missed of school, boosts immune system, helps protect DNA, etc. Sounds like you’re an amazing mom from your blogs and from what your aunt has told my mom!! Take Care- Sarah

Lilybett on

I agree with Sherri and Dawn. Definitely keep kids home when sick and teach them to wash their hands, but you also have to let them get down and dirty and deal with bugs on a daily basis. I’m not saying don’t keep them clean or make them wash but things like antibacterial soaps and hand washes are helping to super-size germs and make them more resistant, not protect the kids.

Tink on

The reason you get sick so much is because you are being too clean! Anti-bacterial hand washes/soaps etc are not good for households, the only people who need to use them are those that work in hospitals and handle animals.

As a teacher who started out in early childhood before moving into primary school, you only need to get sick once before you’re immune to little kid illnesses! Stop washing your hands so often and with anti-bacterial stuff and you’ll be better for it 🙂

Amanda on

As I read this, I initially thought, how ridiculous?! Now though, as one who is a slight germaphobe, and who tends to wash her hands obsessively, it makes sense. I do not remember being sick all that often as a child, and I was allowed to get dirty and play in the mud and what not… and I thought that is what Elisabeth was going for. Now, I see the difference.

We can let our kids be kids, but just keep them a bit cleaner. As someone who isn’t a parent yet, the thought of getting sick all the time is what keeps me from wanting to be a parent. I know, its pathetic. But, this puts stuff into a better perspective.

Miguelina on

Taking vitamins has done wonders for my family’s immune system! Before taking vitamins we were constantly sick; with 4 family members it felt endless. After one child got sick; then I would. The only thing that has helped ease this problem has been vitamins. My children take a multivitamin daily, I take that plus a few more. That includes vitamin C, omega 3, lecithin, acidopholus, selenium and a few others.

Its a lot of stuff, but illness has stopped in our family. Making vitamins the way to go. Its very good to rest while sick; the bad thing is not everyone thinks so and continue to bring their sick children around your healthy ones.

So now everyone in your family will get sick too; which is annoying. Since you can’t raise other people’s children; the best thing to do is build up the immunity of your own family. This will help make your family less susceptible to illness; and all those germs that belong to others will stay with them after leaving their company.

pauline on

To Miguelina,
can you recommend the name of multi vitamine you and your family take?
Thank you, PM

Miguelina on


the multivitamin I take is called, Source of Life, by Nature’s Plus; you can buy it in just about any health foodstore. My girls take 365 Everyday Value Chewy Multivitamins Kids Gummy Fruits, you can buy them in WholeFoods; or Yummi Bears Multivitamin and Mineral, which can be bought in any healthfood store.

Amber on

There is some evidence that over-cleanliness, anti-bacterial soaps, lotions and gels are partly responsible for the increase in illness and virulent bugs that kids are getting these days. Obviously wash your hands after running around in public and/or before eating, don’t suck on communal toys or lick a shopping cart handle, but lay off the sanitizers, let your kids eat things that have fallen on the ground, let them play in the dirt and quit spritzing sanitizer all over their developing systems. Do you remember being this ill as a kid? Ask your parents if they were constantly sick once you went into preschool or kindergarten. I bet the answer is no.

The Baking Fairy on

My elder daughter is 4 and started preschool last fall. In her second week of school, we were introduced to our first round of colds and began a cycle that I called “two weeks sick, one week healthy”. Count your blessings if Easton is over it in 48 hours because my daughters take a full 10 days to get over a cold. It’s usually 48 hours of sleeplessness and fevers followed by a horrendous cough and snot that won’t stop. Her school’s policy is to send kids to school as long as they haven’t vomited or spiked a fever over 100 F for 24 hours. Coughs, sneezes, runny noses are welcome, though. It drove me insane.

From Sept. thru the end of April we endured 11 colds and I came down with 9 of the 11 of them. Sometimes I was the one who got it the worst! I wondered how my immune system could be so terrible and why my daughters’ weren’t stronger when I breastfed them for 12 months and 16 months, respectively. Summer has actually been a welcome change. No colds since she hasn’t been in the school!

I’m hoping this upcoming year won’t be as bad now that we’ve gone through a round. I’m only thankful that all we ever came away with was the run-of-the-mill cold. My niece is in day care and I can’t tell you how many times colds, strep throat, and pink eye have run through my sister’s house.

Kitty on

We just got back from NYC and we got sick too. It was the worst flu we’d had in a long time. There’s definitely something going around in NYC.

Kid_Friendly on

You shouldn’t complain about these things, it’s part of life. Having kids and illnesses go together. Your parents went through the very same thing. In the grand scheme of things, a cold or petty illnesses are really modicum.

When feeling sorry for yourself, you might want to think of those who have terminal illnesses, handicaps or medical conditions they can never rid themselves of. Anyone of them would certainly swap you for a short lived cold, flu or stomach bug.

Count your blessings and quit whinning.

Jenna on

@ kid_friendly
I am sure she does count her blessings that she and her own are not sick with terminal illnesses… she is meerly asking for advice and stories about what other parents go through with sick children…

I am about to get my license to teach elementary school and I have been warned that new teachers get more sick in the first year or so of teaching than they previously had in their lives. Dreading this! Parents, keep your kids at home if they are sick! Why in the world would you even want your poor child, who likely feels miserable, at school/day care anyway? I know when I am sick I just want to stay home, so of course they probably do as well! Colds and runny noses are a part of childhood, but at least do what you can to minimize spreading germs to others! I do think we as a society use to much anti-bacterial stuff though.. regular soap is good enough most of the time… otherwise these germs are building an immunity to things because we overuse them… same is happening with antibiotics… anytime someone is sick they give them an antibiotic… even if its a virus! (viruses don’t respond to antibiotics btw) so everything is building a resistance to things that are supposed to make us better…

Not a germophobe on

You do all realize that you are often contagious with colds, flus, etc., before you even exhibit symptoms? So keeping kids home when they are sick, which is of course what you should do if they have a fever, stomach issues, etc., will not prevent all those cooties? Also, with head colds, the runny nose can last for weeks after the cold is done (at least in my family). Not realistic for a parent to miss 3 weeks of work/kid to miss 3 weeks of school for every head cold. Stay home for the week-to-ten of the worst symptoms, then you have to go back. That’s life.

Mary on

I normally love her blogs but this one has me a little upset. Yes, I agree, it is best to leave your child at home. That is easy for you to say though, you are an actor, have lots of money, and probably could hire someone to stay home with your child. Same with all those stay at home moms, easy peasy, keep your child at home. But what about ALL those middle class two parent working families who can’t take time off? Whose jobs don’t care if they have a sick child, they are expected to be there. So, what do they do? Choose to lose their job so they can stay at home with a sick kid? Fever, yes. vomitting, yes. A head cold, send them on their way.

I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to take time off for my kids, so I do, but I still don’t let them stay home for every sniffle like you are suggesting; I have limited sick time. Plus, if I did that, they would be home all winter!