How to Survive Your Kid’s Tonsillectomy Without Running Away to Guam

Does your kid snore like a trucker? Samesies. Maybe they have constant strep or sleep apnea. You know what might be in your future? A kind ENT looking you right in your eyeballs and telling you “Those are literally the biggest tonsils I’ve ever seen and they need to go”. This isn’t the time to feel proud of your kid for being the BEST at something because drama awaits.

Been there, done that, would not buy the t-shirt.

When I googled all the hacks for how to survive what was coming, I found a lot of people telling me to stock up on applesauce and get ready for bad breath, and that was fine but I wanted more. Lucky for you, my kid and I have been through this and I’ve got your MORE. So here’s what you need to survive (DO NOT EXPECT TO THRIVE) your child’s tonsillectomy:

( Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and my four semesters of pre-med did not qualify me to give you medical advice. I CAN tell you lots of facts about valence electrons though.)

An IDGAF attitude about sleep. Remember that feeling when you had a newborn and it was your bedtime but you had that anxious, unpleasant feeling about going to bed because you knew you only had a couple of hours before you were rudely awakened by screaming and it was just you and that precious little dictator in the middle of the night trying to be quiet so you didn’t wake the whole house up but you also low-key didn’t know what you were doing exactly? This is that. They tell you to alternate Tylenol and Motrin every three hours for “a little while” and guess what? That means that at 12am and at 3am and at 6am, you are waking up to coerce your precious crotch goblin to swallow this awful-tasting liquid. Kids that are woken up in the middle of the night are not the most cooperative of souls. At my house there was screaming and there was thrashing and there was gagging and there was crying. Luckily this stage is over quicker than that newborn stage.

A Heavily Edited Version of the Food Pyramid. Listen, I believe you when you tell me your kid LOVES sushi and can’t go a day without Brussels sprouts. This isn’t that. After surgery, they will go on complete and utter strike and will not eat or drink anything. The doctor will tell you that dehydration is a worry, and you’re probably good at worrying. Me too. You will find yourself bargaining with your little cuddle bunny to PLEASE drink this double fudge chocolate shake. Stock up on popsicles (lots of different kinds because they will inevitably hate everything they once loved). Mine survived on Jimmy Dean breakfast corn dogs, mini muffins and bomb pops, and one evening THREE McDonald’s cheeseburgers. When you’re celebrating a McDouble for its protein content, you are not at your peak. 

Very Strong Negotiation Skills. Liquid medicine plus an extraordinarily sore throat plus an exhausted kid does not equal anything great. There will be bribing, there will be coercion. If you are weak like me, you will be placing orders for Target pick-up for all the new toys from the Lightyear movie AND the berry flavor of Motrin because SOMEONE cannot stand one more dose of the bubblegum flavor. Hone those skills now cuz you’re gonna need them. 

A Quiet Hobby for Yourself. You and your skin puppy will be spending LOTS of time together on the couch. They will need snuggles (and honestly you probably will too), and they will need rest (also you). This isn’t the time for a Real Housewives marathon or your favorite true crime series unless you want to traumatize the tiny patient, but you need something to do while they watch Sonic 2 for the third time or you’re going to find yourself googling how to make mushroom coffee like Dr. Robotnik. A giant pile of books and TikTok got me through each day, but you do you. 

Someone to Talk to That Has Been There Before. Tonsillectomies are one of the most common surgeries in little people, so I guarantee you someone in your circle or in your mom group on Facebook or your sister has been there before. They will tell you about the “Dragon Breath” on days 3 and on (which honestly wasn’t bad for us, just a few days where I had to remind myself that I did NOT need to change a newborn with diarrhea, I just had a scabby-throated little guy next to me), and the need for fluids, and that trick where you put the syringes of medicine in gravy boats marked with the time they take it that is great for people that are much more organized than me. 

The Knowledge That This is Normal. Remember that part where this is one of the most common surgeries for kids? That means that so many kids have been here before that almost everything that happens is normal. Pain until day 14? Normal. Up and running around on day two? Normal. Eating a Chick-Fil-A kid’s meal on day five and then refusing to eat at all on day six? You guessed it, normal. Call your doctor with any concerns, but also know that every single kid is different and handles the recovery in their own way. 

Fingers crossed you fly through this and have only quieter nights and less sick days in your future. And if you do end up in Guam, know that I won’t blame you. 


Previous articleGetting Outdoors Safely in a Heat Wave
Next articleMothering into My Forties
Caitlynne Miller
Caitlynne is a SAHM to three energetic and adorable little boys, Paxton (10), Porter (8), and Lincoln (5). She married her high school sweetheart and they settled down in their hometown of Edmond, OK after a brief relocation to Durham, NC. Caitlynne enjoys family vacations, trying new restaurants, taking her boys on adventures, and watching the Office.


  1. Great article. Mine had an adenoidectomy & tonsillectomy at the same time. He bounced back quicker than expected keeping him resting (not jumping, running, etc) for the required 2 weeks was super difficult!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here