Life stops when a child is sick with the stomach flu or even a bad cold. But even as I am fetching blankets, cleaning up accidents, and holding a sick little one or two through the night, I can’t help but think, “I am next.” The difference is, when I get sick, life doesn’t stop. Healthy children have to go to sports and for some reason everyone still expects food on the table.
Rather than chalk it up to one of the on-the-job hazards of being a mom, take action. Illness prevention is important. To me, it also means protecting against lost income, unexpected medical bills and emotional upheaval in the home. Getting sick is stressful.
February and March has typically been my family’s toughest months as far as fighting germs go. One year we passed some nasty bug back and forth for weeks. Nothing was getting done and everyone was miserable. Camping out in the living room should have been fun, but instead we were all in a foggy haze.
Determined not to let this happen again, the following strategies are my first line of defense when, or before, illness strikes. You need to stay strong and healthy, even when the rest of family is dropping like flies!
Scrub like a doctor
While we all know this, but it is easy to let this step go when you are sleep-deprived. Sure you wash your hands after cleaning up messes, but how about after every time you wipe a nose or between finally laying them down for a nap and crashing on your bed? Scrub like a doctor. Use warm water and plenty of soap. Simply getting your hands wet is not enough. Keep a hand-sanitizer next to the tissue box for those times when you can’t unwrap from your sick child long enough to get to a sink.
Out of the air
When picking up books to read to your child, consider showing them a picture book of how germs are spread through the air. Old episodes of The Magic School Box are also good to watch. However you explain it, be sure your child knows to cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze. A few passes with a spray disinfectant will kill any remaining airborne germs.
Disinfect like it is a bad habit
Wipe down counters and all the surfaces your child frequently touches. Computer keyboards, cupboard handles, doorknobs, coffee tables and the remote control. Use disinfecting wipes, sprays or make your own effective solution. Half white vinegar, half water and a drop of tea tree oil or orange essential oil can be used in a spray bottle or wiped on surfaces to clean and disinfect for less.
Double up on laundry
When your child is sick you are probably already washing more towels, sheets and blankets than ever before, but don’t let those throw blankets and pillows sneak under the radar. Nap the bear and the dollies, take the robe and the cozy wraps and give them a hot bath frequently.
Protect yourself from the inside out
Germs are not your only problem. If your immune system is weak, all the washing, wiping and spraying will do little good. Be proactive and build up your immune system all year round.
- Stay hydrated. If you are bored with water, slip in a little flavoring. Lemon juice, herb teas or a splash of juice in a jug of water can make it more appealing.
- Stay fit. This is not just for vanity; fitness benefits your immune system. Make time for physical activity every day. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours at the gym, fresh air and walking is free. In fact getting outside to exercise is doubly healthy; bring your kids and get some sun.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep-deprivation is not only annoying; it can break down your natural defenses against illness. I know how hard it is to make this a priority since it stays so quietly in the background, but caring for yourself by getting proper rest is worth the sacrifice.