Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Keeping the family cold and flu free

Cold and flu season. 

How I dread it. 

While not everyone thinks of the season starting till the colder weather hits, I'd like to think it really begins with the very 1st day of school for the year.  I would notice the pattern over the last few years with my oldest, who completed an extra year of pre-K due to a late birthday.  This year he went on to Kindergarten and my twins started in the public school's pre-K five mornings a week (same schedule as the Kindergarten).

We had actually gone the whole entire summer without a doctors visit (minus one that was allergy related).  That was an incredible feat for the boys who had spent nearly half the winter and spring in and out of the pediatrician's office with various illnesses.  And we were so active this summer to top it all off!  We were constantly at the beach, the pool, the local YMCA.  You name it, we were there... always on the go.  And yet no illnesses.  It was amazing.

The second day of school - the second day - one of the twins came home with a horrible runny nose and a day later it had turned into a bad cold.  I was beside myself.  How had we gone an entire summer without this only to be hit by a cold just 2 days back into the school year.  Then it hit me - school germs.  The boys are playing with their friends at school, sharing school supplies, touching who knows what on the playground... never mind when they play soccer each week.  I shudder.  That cold got passed around the whole house, boys first, then my husband and I.  Knock on wood we have all been healthy since.  I do however think it's because of the extra measures we have taken since then.

For years now I have made sure I kept a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocketbook, as well as a larger one with a big pump attached in my truck.  The boys and I leave a store?  We get in the car and sanitize.  Believe me I am not a germaphobe... but when you notice you are in a store, the boys are touching things... and then their fingers go into their mouths?  Ew.  I have managed to curb the fingers in the mouths in stores for the most part and we clean those little hands right away after that before they have a chance to get popped back in.

I love love love donating things like Lysol wipes to the boys classrooms (which just so happen to kill 99.9% of bacteria and what's better than that)!  I like to know if I send it in, it's being used in their class and things are being cleaned right.  In their classrooms they also have to hand sanitize after they use a tissue and that's something I have tried to institute as well if a sink is not readily available to wash their hands.  Also, we are totally working on sneezing into elbows... but the boys still need a little work in that department.

We have a routine when the boys get out of school in the mornings.  When we get in the truck I pass the hand sanitizer and they all take a pump.  When we get home, all backpacks are put on the floor in the living room and they have to go straight to the bathroom and wash their hands with soap and water.  Once upon a time I used to have my oldest sing the ABC's to make sure he washed his hands long enough but now the boys have two other songs they also like to sing about hand washing thanks to children's programming.  It makes such a difference because while they might not know how long 20 seconds is, they take that long (or longer) to sing the song while they wash up.  And then I know they are super clean and germ free before sitting down for lunch.

I am also a big fan of flu shots.  We get those every year.  This will be the 1st year the boys will be getting them at their public school (vs the pediatrician's office).  I really do think that it goes a long way in helping them to stay just a little bit healthier as well.  It will be a few more weeks before the boys will be able to get their shots, so fingers crossed for now they keep staying healthy.

In the meantime, I will keep cleaning the toys they like to play with most with sanitizing sprays and keep the soap pumps and sanitizer dispensers stocked up.  That combined with lots of healthy fruits and veggies and maybe... just maybe... the boys will manage to stay out of the pediatrician's office a little more this winter vs the previous ones.

That's what we do to try and keep our family cold and flu free.  What do you do?  Always love to hear other people's tips and suggestions too!

***Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Lysol blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.***