By the end of the first week of school, my grandkids brought home a respiratory virus AND hand, foot and mouth disease. Those viruses were then passed on to their mom, their aunt and uncle, their new baby cousin and Nana and Papa. And, while the kids were miserable for a few days, the rest of us suffered for weeks with symptoms.
So, I went online and gathered the most-listed methods of “germ warfare” from the experts. Most of them are common sense tactics, but it’s amazing how often we let our guards down (and pay the price later!).
- It may sound like a broken record, but handwashing remains the number one defense against illness. Get your kids into the habit of washing their hands after recess, school, daycare and playdates, and before every meal. They should be able to sing the Happy Birthday song twice while they lather up (I can’t tell you how many adults I’ve seen simply swish their hands quickly under water in public restrooms).
- Since germs enter through the nose, eyes and mouth, teach your kids to keep their hands away from their faces (or, at least tell them they must wash their hands before touching their faces).
- Did you know that sleep deprivation doubles a child’s chance of getting a cold or the flu? Get those kids into bed early. Even if they read quietly in their rooms for a while before falling asleep, they are still getting some extra rest.
- Regular moderate exercise reduces the number of colds and flus a child gets by 25-50%! That’s huge. An evening walk or a game of catch is enough to make a big difference.
- Teach your kids to cover their coughs and sneezes with the crook of their arms, not their hands.
- Make sure your kids aren’t sharing water bottles or straws with their friends. Kids are contagious before any symptoms show up, so your child won’t be able to tell if his or her friend is sick.
- Feeding your children healthy foods goes a long way towards boosting their immune systems. Brightly colored vegetables and fruits should be a part of their everyday diet.
- Although the foods we eat are the best way to get our nutrients, high quality kids’ vitamins can be used to supplement the diet. Gummi vitamins are fun, but aren’t as easily absorbed into the body as other types of vitamins.
- Check on the illness policies at your school and/or daycare and make sure those rules are being enforced. No child should be allowed in school or daycare with a fever, a stomach bug, etc.
- Make sure you clean and disinfect the surfaces of your home during flu season. Light switches, toilet handles and doorknobs are all germ magnets. There are convenient wipes that can be used for this purpose.
- And, lastly, my daughter hates dealing with the stomach flu. So, she started giving her kids a glass of pure (no sugar added) grape juice every day. The grape juice changes the acidity in their tummies and makes it harder for flu germs to gain a foothold. They haven’t had the flu since she started a few years ago and she considers that a big win!
I hope these simple tips help your family stay healthy this winter. And, share your tips with us in the comment section!
Find more of Ann’s contributions to allmomdoes here.