“Mom brain” can be dangerous

Did you know that every eight minutes a child under the age of 6 experiences a medication error (outside of the doctor’s office or hospital)? According to a 2014 study in the journal Pediatrics, every eight minutes some tired, distracted, or misinformed caregiver unwittingly gives her child the wrong dose or wrong medication!

It turns out that many of these errors are due to a momentary lapse in concentration. What parent can’t relate to that? I forget what I came into a room for regularly, and my kids now check to make sure they have their own lunch boxes daily after a few occasions when I accidentally reversed them. (Apparently, an eight year old boy suffers extreme embarrassment when packed a hot pink Hello Kitty lunch box.) I decided to ask a few friends if they have any experience with this and within minutes the stories started coming in. If I was responsible for regularly administering different medications to my kids (or pets or parents), no doubt there would be some slip ups like these:

  • Anna from My Life and Kids wrote about the time her mom carefully wrapped the dog’s thyroid medication in a piece bread, covered it in peanut butter, and then ate it!
  • While in the throes of extreme sleep deprivation from caring for her autistic teenager, two toddlers, and a newborn, Jessica from Four Plus an Angel brought her teen her pills and a glass of water; just as she was going to hand them over she absent-mindedly popped them in her own mouth and drank them down.
  • Just last week, Stephanie from Binkies and Briefcases accidentally gave her mother Naproxen instead of Ibuprofen, after a quick glance at the bottles with similar brand names.

Any of us can understand how a moment of inattention can lead to an error like these. Luckily, these mistake all proved harmless, despite some embarrassing calls to poison control. I’m allergic to Naproxen and I’d be covered in hives (or worse) if I inadvertently took that instead of Ibuprofen. It’s easy to see how quickly we could make a potentially dangerous mistake. “Mom brain” is real, people, and it can be dangerous. So, when administering medications to those in your care, please take an extra moment to concentrate, check, and double-check yourself.

Some important tips for parents from the KnowYourOTCs site:

  • Always read and follow the label.
  • Always give the recommended dose and use the correct measuring device.
  • Only use the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
  • Never give two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
  • Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child.
  • Never give aspirin-containing products to children and adolescents for cold or flu symptoms unless told to do so by a doctor.
  • Do not use oral cough and cold medicines in children under four.
  • Do not give a medicine only intended for adults to a child.
  • Stop use and contact your doctor immediately if your child develops any side effects or reactions that concern you.
  • Keep all medicines — and vitamins, too — up and away and out of your child’s reach and sight.
  • Teach your child about using medicines safely. Tell your children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them. Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.

OTC Dosage Infographic

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KnowYourOTCs educational program which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.

Visit Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s profile on Pinterest.

Below Average Soccer Mom

Each stage of parenting comes with its own challenges. As I slowly transition from little kids to mid-sized kids, my job as mom involves more and more administrative challenges, and, thankfully, fewer and fewer bodily functions (non-self) that I need to take part in. While I’m happy to leave much of the little kid mess behind me, I have not yet mastered my new role.

This fall Luke has been part of our town’s travel soccer team. I was warned. This was going to be a Big Commitment. I figured people meant for him. Like, he was going to have to commit to his team, to hard work, to being part of something bigger than himself, to representing our town in a positive way, and all the other wholesome crap that comes with sports. Turns out, if anyone deserves a participation trophy, it’s Sally and me. Our lives have been turned upside down as we spend so much of our time hurrying up only to wait for hours in the cold.

The team practices twice weekly from 5:30 until it’s finally too damn dark. My kids get off the school bus around 4:00. This gives us 1.5 hours to decompress, have a snack, do homework, eat dinner, change for soccer, and get to practice.

Snack and dinner within 90 minutes? Nope. Dinner afterwards? For my early-to-bed kids, that’s a no go. So my solution was to serve dinner instead of an after school snack. The kids walk in the door and instead of cheese and crackers, I dish up chicken and potatoes; in lieu of apples and peanut butter, I serve spaghetti bolognese.

Would you want to eat that at 4:00 in the afternoon? Neither do they. I tried pushing it off until closer to 5:00, but they get home desperately hungry and there’s no way they can face their homework in that state. (Think: Gremlins)

Weeks and weeks of failed attempts to feed my kids passed until this week when I finally nailed it. I successfully fed my kids dinner at 4:00! They ate second helpings and went into the evening happy and with full bellies. I felt at once triumphant and completely mortified. What magical dinner overcame the awkward timing? Fish sticks, corn, and ramen noodles. Are there foods lower on the nutritional totem pole? I’ve come a long way since my homemade baby food days. Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Pinterest, please avert your eyes.

So I haven’t quite mastered the job of soccer mom yet. I can’t figure out how to manage dinner and practice on the same night, and I only have one of my kids in a sport. How parents juggle multiple kids in multiple sports and lessons is far beyond my imagination and skill set.

Thankfully, the season is nearly over. The hours spent on the sidelines between the weeknight practices and the two games each weekend have grown unpleasantly cold. While I’m clearly not yet at a varsity level, I have learned a few things:

  • When the coaches stress the commitment that the team entails, they are talking to you, the parent;
  • No matter how much your child loves the sport, the act of putting on cleats is torture and it is YOUR FAULT;
  • Kids don’t want to eat a complete dinner in lieu of a snack;
  • Sometimes, ramen noodles are OK;*
  • The kid on the sidelines patiently waiting through all the boring practices and games is the kid that deserves a (non)participation trophy.

As autumn presses on and each frosty morning foretells the pending winter confinement, I’m looking forward to life slowing down a bit. Soon we’ll have seemingly endless afternoons in which to fit snacks and dinners. I can have conversations with my kids other than me harassing them to get ready faster. I’ll forget how crazed I felt this fall, and will happily sign Luke up for soccer again next year, and will likely believe that I can also handle a sport for Sally. But this time, I’ll bring out the ramen from the start.

*This might be a new mantra of mine.

Soccer Mom

Have You Heard of Dexing?

My kids are still little. Little kids, little problems. I fear the teenage years with an irrational fervor. If my little kid problems can keep me up at night, how am I possibly going to face big kid problems? So much dread. Perhaps strangely, an innovative, research based campaign to educate parents and teens about DXM abuse has given me a glimmer of hope.

Do you know what DXM is? Your teenager might. Dextromethorphan, or DXM, is the ingredient in cough syrup that can get kids high. Long gone are the cheesy after school specials and “Just Say No” campaigns of my youth. In their place, at least in this case, is a well thought out campaign based on actual research with teens.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), which represents the makers of these products, has partnered with abuse prevention experts for a nearly a decade on a national education campaign called Stop Medicine Abuse to help raise awareness and educate parents. Three years ago, CHPA joined forces with top digital marketers, abuse prevention champions, and researchers (David Binder Research and Hall & Partners) to expand its education platform to include a cutting-edge digital media campaign aimed at teens.

The research that the campaign draws from found that the fear of social consequences is a leading motivator in preventing teens from abusing cough medicine. The perceived risks of DXM abuse – vomiting and lack of control – lead to social disapproval.

So, teens are motivated by the fear of looking stupid. We all knew that, right? But how great is it to use this motivator to help dissuade kids from making terrible choices? Another interesting result from the research is that teens are reluctant to judge each other and would not respond favorably to media messages that “judge” other teens.


Where do teens turn when they want information? Their parents? If only! According to the research, teens are almost three times as likely to trust their friends as a source of information than their family (including siblings). Almost 35 percent listed friends as a top source and only 8 percent listed family. (Boo! Hiss!) The survey also found that when teens are curious about DXM abuse, they look for more information online. 


So, we now know that teens don’t want to hear messages about “bad” kids; they disapprove of the messiness and out-of-controlness of DXM abuse; they don’t want to risk negative social consequences; and they seek their information online. Enter CHPA’s brilliant site What Is DXM? This site comes up when teens conduct their online searches and it’s aimed at kids who are on the fence about trying DXM. Capitalizing on the research about what motivates teens, it’s not preachy and it is informative. There’s also a cool app where robots get high on DXM. Seriously!

So, while I still might cower in fear of the looming teen years, it’s nice to know that there are reasonable resources out there to help parents navigate some of the crap we have to face. In the meantime, I’m going to talk to my kids about drugs and OTC medicine abuse, and try to enjoy my little kid problems.

For more information and resources please check out StopMedicineAbuse.org  and their Pinterest board.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by KnowYourOTCs educational program which has provided me compensation to write about the safe and appropriate use of OTCs. All content, views, and opinions are my own.