Flu and cold seasons are miserable, especially when each child gives it to all the other people in the home. Within a couple of weeks, everyone has been sick, including mom! Here are the top 5 ways to stop spreading illness in your home.
1 – Do not share cups and plates.
Dishwashers are a magnificent invention, but not a cure all for stopping the spread illness. To kill most viruses and germs, water must reach over 140 degrees for an extended time. However, most water heaters are set below 120 degrees in order to not scald children for safety (we recommend NOT raising your water heater temperature). What does that mean? Your dishwasher is not killing germs! Of course we all add soap, but it does not kill germs, just helps the germs wash off of the items.
What is a busy mom to do? Sterilize everything, every day? Not really possible, especially if mom is also sick. We have an easy solution…buy dishes that are a certain color for each child. Red for Tommy, green for Lilly, purple for Grace…and teach your children to only use their color. I swear by this. It really does stop the spread of germs as children learn to only drink out of their own color of cups.
2 – Practice hand washing before and after meals, bathroom use, and every 2 hours.
We’ve all been told to wash our hands after the bathroom, but what about before? Before and after meals, really? Yes!! Children typically slobber on their hands when they eat and wipe their faces with the backs of their hands while eating. Wash before AND after. It will drastically reduce the spread of illness.
Every two hours, or every hour if they are sick. As a mother, you know the children slobber on their hands, wipe their nose with the hands, and touch their face a ton when they are sick. Wash hands every hour when sick, every two as a basic practice. You don’t need anti-bacterial soap, just a routine of hand washing to keep those germs down.
3 – Wash the Toys.
I am always surprised by how people react when I tell them to wash the toys. The response is usually, “All of them?” Yes! Wash your toys every month and directly after illness has left the home. Daycare centers and schools are required to wash toys, why not a family home?
Wash all plastic, non electronic toys with bleach and a tub of water. Some suggest the dishwasher, but I’ve had toys melt that way. Rinse and let air dry. Wash stuffed animals in pillow cases in the clothes washer. Hang the stuffed animals out to air dry. Use a disinfecting spray and wash cloth to clean the surface of electronic toys.
4 – Teach children to cough and sneeze into their elbow.
Ever had a child cough in your face? Yeah, nasty! Even small children can be taught to cough into their elbow. This stops those germs from flying all over the neighboring people and furniture. Check out Cover Your Cough from the Center for Disease Control.
5 – Teach children to use tissues.
Most children HATE having their nose wiped. Usually because that sensitive skin begins to get sore. So, teach them to wipe their own nose. I’ve taught children as young as 15 months to use a tissue, maybe not to fully blow, but at least to wipe their nose. The earlier you start a child, the better they learn to allow nose wiping.