We are hopefully at the tail end of a really bad cold and flu season. This year has been intense. I do not consider myself a “germaphobe” by any means, but this year, I was terrified. My family spent the entire month of December sick. It was terrible. I was determined to not spend the entire winter sick or with a sick child. Here are the 10 best tips for avoiding germs and preventing illness.
#1 Wash Hands
This one seems pretty obvious, right? However, I still see so many people who don’t wash their hands nearly enough. Hands should be washed after bathroom trips, before handling food, and after touching anything in a public place. I have gotten myself into a habit of washing my hands as soon as I get home from the store. I carry in my purchases, and immediately wash my hands. Public places are crawling with all kinds of stuff.
#2 Use the Tools Available
I always keep hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with me. Sometimes you can’t drop everything to wash your hands. In a pinch, these things will help at the very least, especially with children who like to touch every freakin’ thing!
The wipes also come in hand for wiping down shopping cart handles and seats. I also recommend using a shopping cart cover for smaller children. When my son was smaller, he liked to lean over and try to chew on various parts of the shopping cart. YUCK! Cue mom panic mode. The cover was awesome in preventing that.
#3 Avoid High-Risk Places
Every kid loves the indoor playground places that seem to be everywhere these days. As a mom, I love them too. They wear my son out, he has fun, and I get a break while he plays. However, I wouldn’t be caught dead in one during the height of cold and flu season. Kids are little germ factories. They drool and spit and sneeze and spew boogers on everything. In my opinion, taking my child there is equivalent to throwing them into a toxic waste dump. NO THANKS!
Also, when avoiding germs and preventing illness, avoid public places with high traffic. I am not a fan of stores, or malls, or even restaurants when illnesses seem to be running rampant. Doctor’s offices and hospitals are a no-go in my book as well. Unless it is absolutely necessary, we aren’t going near them.
#4 Choose Activities with Little Exposure
So I don’t know about you, but my high energy toddler gets stir crazy when cooped up for too long. I get it, because I do too. When we are avoiding germs and preventing illness, I tend to avoid a lot of places with him. However, to save both of our sanities, I have found some activities with less exposure to germs. This winter, we have done a lot of ice skating for example. Yes, it is a public place, and yes, there are tons of other children. But there is really zero contact. The kids aren’t generally touching each other with germy hands or sneezing all over tubes and tunnels for others to crawl through.
#5 Avoid Sick People
I am sorry but if little Johnny spent the last 3 days puking his guts up, I don’t care how much better he feels today, he still isn’t coming over to play. If Mary has had bronchitis, pneumonia, the flu, a double ear infection, and chicken pox in the last week, she’s not invited either. Maybe I am a jerk. But honestly, I know how miserable it is dealing with sick kids. Especially when they decide to share it with the rest of the family and everyone is sick at once. Nope, I’m good!
#6 Treat Symptoms Immediately
If someone in the family starts experiencing symptoms of an illness, do not wait. Treat immediately. Avoiding germs and preventing illness is hard work, and you’re bound to fail sometimes. Any time one of us gets a little sniffle-y or not feeling well, we go to DEFCON-5 up in here. Rest, soup, fluids, over-the-counter meds…the works. The hope is that it will stop whatever sickness in its tracks and prevent exposing all of us.
I’m so glad my husband and I are on the same page with this one. If one of us gets sick, we lock ourselves away as much as possible from the rest of the family. This is key in avoiding germs and preventing illness from spreading. We don’t sleep together. We hide away in a bedroom or an area of the house where nobody is to keep the germs centrally located.It may sound mean, but it also allows the person who is sick to rest up and get better.
#8 Clean and Sanitize Everything
Once someone is sick, it’s important when avoiding germs and preventing illness that you clean and sanitize everything the sick person has been in contact with. I scrub bathrooms with bleach, wipe down counter tops and door handles. The refrigerator gets cleaned. All bedding will get washed. Toys need to be sanitized. You don’t want any of those germs hanging around, forming gangs, and lying in wait to jump another unsuspecting member of your family.
#9 Stay Home
I know this one is hard. It is virtually impossible to stay locked away in your home 24/7 for an entire cold and flu season. The more you can limit your exposure to potentially sick people, the better. I try and plan out my shopping trips and errands and condense them down so I am not going out as much. I shy away from public play dates. Instead I opt to host them in my home (as long as your little monster or mine isn’t sick!). Stay home as much as possible and when you do go out and about into the germ infested world, make sure to take precautions.
#10 Keep Your Sick Kids Home
Can I get an “amen” on this? Listen, I get it. You have stuff to get done. The grocery shopping isn’t going to do itself. Or a million other tasks that all of us moms have. Seriously though, find another way. Put it off for a few days, have someone sit with the kids, whatever you need to do. Just don’t bring your sick children out into public.
This is not a completely selfish request. Yes, I don’t want my little monster picking up any germs from yours. That is true and I am not even sorry about it. However, it is for your child’s own good too. When someone is sick, their immune system is busy fighting off whatever is making them sick. That tends to make them more susceptible to other illnesses as well. You don’t want your poor sick kiddo getting sicker, do you? Also, they need their rest. When your immune system is fighting off a bug, its hard work. Your whole body gets worn down from the battle. Let them stay home and rest and recuperate before dragging them all over the town.
Be Vigilant and Aware
Avoiding germs and preventing illness isn’t a guarantee. Kids get sick. So do adults. However, being vigilant about these things has saved us so much this year. Remember when I said we were sick the entire month of December? Well, it sucked. BUT, nobody in my house has been sick since. In this crazy winter with all the strands of influenza and norovirus and RSV and everything else under the sun, we have remained healthy. Hopefully your family will too in the future with these tips!
What do you do when avoiding germs and preventing illness? Leave your tips in the comments section below.