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The flu sucks. Well, let’s put it this way- it sucks when your kids get sick, but the flu is the worst. There have been countless days that I’ve had to call out of work because my son was sick. Or, I had to call out because my sitter, and back up sitters were sick or unavailable.
I personally (and I’m knocking on every piece of wood in my house and praying I haven’t cursed myself) have not had the flu in years. And I really mean years. And I work in a hospital!
And since I’m writing to you now during another call out due to a sitter, I sat back and wondered how I’ve managed to slide by the illness for so long. Here’s tips on how I’ve kept the flu out of my house.
Wash Your Hands
This is probably the single most important way to stop the spread of the flu, and other germs. And, I’m not saying just to wash them after you’ve touched something visibly gross. Wash them after using the bathroom, after driving your car (how often do you disinfect your steering wheel??), after shopping at any store, and even after laying on your own floor. Your hands are your working tools. And, they’re also the tools that touch your mouth and eyes.
Its easy to remember to wash them while at home, but if you’re out and about you don’t have access to a sink and soap. I carry hand sanitizer with me at all times. I use the little jelly holder on my key chain and my son and I lather it up often.
Here’s a tip: How many times have you put “too much on” and waved your hands in the air to let the sanitizer dry? Big NO NO. When washing your hands or using hand sanitizer it’s important to rub your hands together vigorously. The friction + soap/sanitizer is what kills the germs.
Become BFFs With Lysol and Clorox
I know plenty of people who do not like the smell of Clorox and Lysol. Understandably so, that stuff is hard to shake once you’ve inhaled it. But, have you seen the commercial with the Clorox lady asking the mom about the product called “Sparkling Smiles”? (which is what she was using to clean her toilet) The Clorox lady says, “Do you know what goes in your toilet?? Do you think ‘Sparkling Smiles’ is going to cut it? I don’t think so. Get Clorox.”
She’s got a huge point. Do you know what goes in your toilet? You need a cleaner that is nastier (in a good way) than the grossness that you’re flushing down it.
I use Clorox Clean Up for my hard surfaces and Lysol disinfecting spray for hard to reach places or porous surfaces. I pretty much buy stock in this stuff. These products kill up to 99.9% of fungi, viruses, and bacteria, including the common cold and flu. With the wide range of products from wipes, sprays, soaps and even the this laundry additive from Lysol, there’s plenty to choose from that fits how you like to clean. **NOTE: The Lysol laundry additive label states that it kills 99.9% of Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Here’s a tip: Spray everything. That may sound a little overzealous but I bet you cannot recall all the things you touch in your home, I guarantee it. Make sure your kids and pets are outside or in another part of the house and go to town. With the Lysol spray I coat door knobs, handles, curtains, remotes, light switches, hand rails, mattresses without sheets, pillows without covers, my shoes that I often wear and my sons (you have no idea what those things bring in!), buttons to appliances, etc. Don’t lightly spray, I mean give it a good coating then let it dry completely before you touch it or put any sheets on.
When using Clorox clean up I dilute it in a spray bottle: 2 parts Clorox and 1 part water. I use this spray on the other popular hard surfaces like counters, sinks, tables, toilet seats and handle (use straight Clorox or bleach for the bowl itself. Remember Sparkling Smiles? Eww.), the shower and tub and handles, floors, desks, etc. This product does carry a bleach component so be careful how much you spray near linens.
Do Laundry Often
By often I don’t mean once a week. This could just be something that I do, since I am a laundry snob. I thoroughly dislike laundry build up. I do a load of laundry every other day if not daily depending on what I need to have clean and for when. I wash my son’s clothes and my work uniforms very often since I work at a hospital (germ city!) and he attends daycare (baby germ city!). And while some germs are good to have to build an immunity, the bacteria we bring home is not something I want to keep in my house.
As a reference here’s how I figure doing laundry. I work three 12 hour shifts so I’m able to do laundry more often than a mom who works a 9 to 5, but less often than a S/WAHM. If you work a 9 to 5, plan to do a load or two of clothes every 2-3 days. If the loads are larger, you can rally up some support from your spouse or plan to change loads and fold while your munchkin is eating dinner or just after they’ve gone to bed. It’s not ideal when you’re tired, but neither is calling out or staying up all night with your kids when they’re super sick. I’ll take the load of laundry over vomit any day!
Let’s not forget about other linens that your body uses/touches such as towels, blankets, sheets, comforters (I use Lysol spray on those too unless they fit in my washer) bathroom rugs, hand towels, and coats. These items should be cleaned weekly, and on the weekend is recommended since there will be more loads.
What To Do When Your Kids Get Sick With A Cold
It’s obvious that no matter what you do your kids will get sick at some point. If it’s a serious bug hopefully it will only come once a year, if not less with you implementing the cleaning tips listed above.
When your little one comes down with the common cold fevers run, snots fly and sneezes are plentiful… especially right in your face. Awesome.
First things first- Mom, load up on Vitamin C and Zicam yourself. You need to be healthy to care for your munchkin while he’s sick.
Second, start getting your home ready and their cold will shorten by length and severity, I promise you!
Cut Out Dairy
Dairy is not a friend to our bodies when we’re sick, especially with a mucus producing cold. Any sinus issues, nasal congestion, or cough just forget about milk and cheese for a few days. Dairy adds to the production of mucus making our noses more stuffy and causing us the need to cough more junk up. As adults we can manage with meds but little ones don’t fully understand how to get it out.
Their little body needs some good TLC and rest to kick the cold and if they can’t sleep at night because they’re coughing, everyone is going to have a rough day.
Vitamin C Does The Body Good
I like to keep a package of Cuties or Halos in my fridge pretty much all the time during the winter. If your kid is anything like mine then you can’t keep enough fruit in your house. I will give Hunter 1 Cutie or Halo a day while he’s sick. It’s straight Vitamin C for them to boost immunity and anything excessive they don’t need their body will get rid of it.
Use A Humidifier
I’m not looking for a miracle here, but when we’re trying to get all that gunk out of our kid’s system and they end up mouth breathing all night, a good humidifier is the way to go. You don’t need a super fancy one, but something that will help keep their mouth moisturized while they sleep is what they need.
Be sure to read the instructions on keeping it clean and how to use oils properly- if you choose to use them. If not cleaned on a regular basis mold can start to grow and then it starts doing more harm than good.
Prop Up With Pillows
I have an amazing friend who is a fantastic nurse. She recommended to prop up Hunter’s head while sleeping when he recently was fighting off a minor cold. I thought about how I’d keep him propped up since I always had a hard time as an adult while I was sleeping. She said to place the pillow under the head of his mattress. How ingenious! The trick is to get a small to medium sized pillow- nothing crazy puffy otherwise your kid will end up sleeping on one end of his mattress. It gives just enough lift so the drainage doesn’t seep down their throats and sit and collect all night long.
That means less crap to cough up in the morning…. and less coughing in your face. Yay!
Zonk Out With Zarbee’s
As an added measure of comfort, I give Hunter Zarbee’s at night right before bed time. There’s no medication in it. It’s a simple, natural cough and mucus relief of dark honey and ivy leaf that will help coat the throat to make falling asleep easier. This product is not recommended for kids under 2, however with kids who can have it one dosage given at bedtime works very well. He sleeps easier and no additional dose is needed throughout the night and everyone sleeps better.
I hope all moms out there are being safe and taking care with this horrible flu season this year. It’s the worst to watch your kid feel sick and know that you can’t stop it or fix their pain. That may be the most heart-wrenching feeling as a parent. I hope these tips cut down on the sick time for parents and kids everywhere. So looking forward to Spring and getting rid of this yucky flu season!