***I am not an expert of any kind (even if I wish I were and even if my kids think I am) so please use this advice in any way that you feel comfortable. This is just based on my own personal experience and research. As always, consult your doctor(s) and local government for more information.***
Fall, winter, even spring. We can even throw summer in there. But out of all of these seasons we all know that fall and winter are the germiest months because of cold and flu viruses and stomach bugs like the monster Norovirus. They’re all lingering around more than any other months. Or so it seems at least.
Let me get this out there- I am a germaphobe and I’m fine with that. It all started since the day we got The Queen’s diagnosis. Call it what you will, but even if it’s an anxiety-induced reaction to such a disheartening diagnosis, I will definitely embrace my germaphobeness because it’s what helps keep Natalie healthy.
I’ll also get this out there- I have a strong phobia called “emetophobia” and this I’m not that fine with. It’s hard to handle especially during these fall and winter months, especially with tales of stomach bugs cropping up almost daily and in all parts of the world up and down my Facebook newsfeed. The first feeling I get is worry for the one dealing with it. The second feeling is dread: the feeling that I just know that my own child will get it really soon. Here’s what’s really strange, I can clean it up but do NOT let me catch it. I will myself to never throw up and I take pride in having 6 1/2 years of not doing it. Even if it hurts more to not do it. I would actually prefer to have a broken bone, a really bad cold, or go through a long labor again to ever throw up. How crazy is that? Purdy crazy.
But it’s my phobias that cause me to research and listen for stories and information about how to avoid getting sick..well, at least not that often. We all do not have to be sick every week if we don’t need to. Trust me, I’ve partially thrown in the towel this school year. I have Natalie and her brother in full time elementary school. Chances are, almost every germ in this house comes from them. Chances are, our family will get sick no matter what. And I’m actually fine with that. We have to let the immune system do what it needs to do. I was born in 1978, had chickenpox, the flu almost yearly, oh so many bad colds, and so many stomach bugs that I lost count by middle school age. And I survived! But what’s scary for me is that I know very well that health-compromised kiddos like Natalie get hit harder, longer, and faster with every germ that enters their bodies. If I can take away an extra cold or stomach bug away from her every year then my hard work is always worth it. So next to getting your yearly flu shot (you better get it!):
TOP 10 LIST OF THINGS YOU SHOULD DO (or at least maybe consider because for realz)
10.) Wash wash wash those dirty hands! Anytime you come home from work, the playground, school, from even just checking the mail you should be washing those hands. We live in an apartment building with a shared front door. Everyone, even those with hands so dirty their fingernails are black, touch those doors. Not everyone washes their hands after wiping their butt. But nonetheless, washing your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds is not only the best defense against illness, it’s one of the only ones that actually work.
9.) Change school clothes when your kiddos come home. Sometimes I let the kids keep on whatever they’re wearing. So yes, I do slack sometimes. But if they sat and laid around the school’s sandbox that day, change those nasty clothes! Also, an uncovered, ignored sandbox? Gross.
8.) Clean your cell phone! I have to confess, I’m pretty sure I broke my phone by doing it too much so as soon as I find a safe way to disinfect a phone (or if you know a way comment). I usually wipe it with a Lysol wipe, but I’m pretty sure my iPhone hates me for that. One thing you can do if you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your phone, is just wash your hands after using it. And have your kids do that also. Especially after having overloaded your phone with Angry Birds and many other apps.
7.) Keep those hands off of your eyes, nose, and mouth unless you’ve washed your hands. If you must pick your nose, use a tissue (hear that kids?). If you eat a meal wash those hands beforehand! And cover that nasty cough in the crook of your arm! I’ve lost count how many times my kids coughed in my mouth. Directly.into.my.mouth.
6.) Take a good look at your bathroom and kitchen. Really look hard. See what I’m seeing? Every few days or so, with a diluted bleach and water solution, disinfect your sinks and toilet. That includes the handles (toilet handle too)! If you have to use a hand towel make sure you have a spot for it to dry and wash the hand towel at least every few days. I started using paper towels this year and that helps. You can even turn the sink off with your paper towel- cutting down on germs. Also, keep your toothbrush away from the hand soap. For some reason, our soap pump keeps ending up RIGHT next to our toothbrushes (water splatter YUM). And if you can, deep clean your bathroom as often as you see fit. In the summer months I deep clean monthly. During the winter months I deep clean it every 2-3 weeks. Think about it- the bathroom is an awesome haven for all germs. Not to freak you out or anything.
5.) Learn to love bleach. Point blank. Plus, it’s the only thing that kills Norovirus. The.only.thing. I like Lysol and really only use it once in a while. Plus, Lysol wipes and Clorox wipes do NOT kill many gastro bugs. Sad isn’t it? Bleach my friends.
4.) Don’t overdo it with the hand sanitizer. You end up killing tons of good germs on your hands and just smearing the bad ones all over. Hand sanitizers are really helpful in a pinch, but don’t rely on it constantly.
3.) Avoid buffets if you’re too squeamish like me. During these months I avoid eating food that’s shared by other people. I don’t care how snobby that makes me. I just don’t care. But come May, I’ll probably eat at the local Golden Corral again. I loves me some Golden Corral.
2.) Keep your fridge clean! Think about it- you touch a dirty cart handle at the grocery store or at WALLY WORLD, then you touch your groceries and stuff. Think about how many hands touched your yogurt cup or juice container. Plus, you sat your groceries on a checkout belt that even the mere thought of what’s lurking on those will definitely end my no puke streak. I’m not saying to go spray bleach on your gallon of milk..but just think about that milk handle, fridge handle, and stuff. Just be aware of what you’re touching.
1.) Get friendly with the “high” setting on the dryer. If it can kill bedbugs it can kill pretty much anything else stuck behind after washing.
I know that these tips don’t guarantee an illness free season but following some of these have proven to keep my family healthy. Ironically, we just got back from an 8-day vacation on the east coast and the idea of washing hands and using hand sanitizer pretty much went out the window by day 2. And so far, we’re all still healthy since being home for almost a week (KNOCK ON SOME WOOD). I don’t know everything, but I do know a little. Happy Holidays!