Surviving Winter with Toddlers: 6 Tips to Stay Healthy!
First, let me be clear - I think at some point there is only so much you can do, and you still might get sick, BUT I think you can absolutely minimize the harshness and frequency of those illnesses, if you take care of yourself and your family. Did you know that as many of 20% of Americans will get the flu this winter? Here are six things that I try to stay up on, and do for myself and my own family, that have worked for us.
1. Get the Flu Vaccine: You can get a ton of information about the flu and vaccine right here. And just to clarify, I'm talking about influenza, not the stomach bug (I use to be confused about that years ago...). My husband and I choose to vaccinate our children, not only for their health, but for the health of our community (illnesses spread!). I've learned a lot about the flu and how vaccines work (and why in some cases they don't) since having children - I guess my kids just made me want to really understand everything for myself more so than before.
And did you know it's not too late to get vaccinated and help reduce your chances of getting the flu? Healthy children from 6 months to 18 years old (+ adults) can receive the vaccine.
2. Wash/Sanitize Your Hands More Often: This one is a no-brainer, but I have to remind myself to wash my hands and sanitize more often (more than just after going to the bathroom or getting them dirty). And to be honest, I hate washing my hands in the winter. My knuckles get so chapped. So, I stock up on lotions and gentle cleansers for every sink.
And when toddlers wash their hands, it just ends up being water play and they soak the kitchen or bathroom, or themselves, or worse - me! But at least they like washing their hands, right?
3. Keeping Up on Cleaning Up: But not dowsing our home in chemicals or spending all our free time de-germing. We approach this two ways: First, my husband and I decided a few years ago that we needed help in this area. We both work full-time and we'd rather spend our free time and weekends with our kids, so we have a housecleaner than comes for a couple of hours every few weeks.
Second, this doesn't mean we never clean - especially when germs are at an all-time high. When I'm short on time, I take the easy route and wipe my counters in my kitchen and bathroom down with disinfectant wipes. It'd also be smart to wipe down door knobs and other areas that get touched a lot. But ideally, I use plant-based cleaners to reduce the harsh chemicals in our home. This All-Purpose Cleaner by EverydayHappy is my favorite, and now I'm just waiting for them to come out with wipes!
4. Don't Wear Your Shoes in the House: I know that exposure to some germs and bacteria is good for you, but it can potentially be pretty awful for your health to track the soles of your dirty shoes through your home - especially when my toddlers spend a lot of their awake time playing on the floor, and even sometimes eat off of it (oy). So, we keep a large basket near our front door to dump our day to day shoes right when we come home. It also helps corral them in one place to keep them all over the floor.
5. Nipping it in the Bud Faster: If you're in Kansas City, you have Children's Mercy in your back pocket - and you should use them! Did you know they have Pediatric Urgent Care Centers that you can visit throughout the city? (and they're open late!) We've visited the Blue Valley location for a really gnarly pink eye once when Liam was 2-years-old. They were amazing, and knew exactly how to calm our little babe. Plus, the waiting and examination rooms were totally kid-friendly, keeping him occupied and happy(ier).
Please remember, Urgent Care Centers are for non-life threatening conditions and if you feel like your child is in more serious condition (or if you are unsure) you should go to the emergency room (and we've visited that, too - a story for another day)! You can also call the Nurse Advice Line for any questions!
Or if you're just unsure if your child is developing a cold or the flu, read "Achoo! Cold or Flu" on pages 6 & 7 of Children Mercy's Safe & Sound magazine, winter edition here!
6. Immunity Boosters: I'm not sure if there is scientific research to back up vitamins, but it can't hurt right? I've been taking Olly's Immunity chewable daily and I spray my pillow and bed with a few sprits on immunity supreme spray that I got from Hand & Land (located at Park Place in Leawood, Kansas).
Not a tip (because duh) - but of course, getting plenty of sleep this time of year is totally helpful. I have been trying to keep the kids on their bed time schedule to maximize their sleep, and therefore mine. And then on the weekends, we all try to squeeze in some naps (or at least quiet time!).
What are some tips that you and your family have that can help fight of winter illnesses?