Our family’s unfortunate holiday tradition doesn’t revolve around lavish turkey dinners or cheery family togetherness.
‘Tis the season – instead – for retching up meals, dining on popsicles and shivering from fevers while buried under layers of blankets.
For my family, the stomach bug is like an old friend who returns to visit every year for turkey dinner. His Thanksgiving visit starts my family’s cycle of illness that takes us through Christmas and into the New Year.
But this year will be different.
My Resolution: Stop Getting Sick
During the stomach bug’s first Thanksgiving visit, my baby boy thankfully only suffered for a few hours. Mom and Dad, meanwhile, weren’t so lucky.
Whether it’s “the bug” or another illness, the steps to take to avoid getting sick are very obvious. But they’re not always easy to do – especially with kids.
Still, I’m tired of my family getting sick. So here is my game plan for those pesky bugs that typically inflict my family throughout the holiday and winter season.
Tip #1 – Flu Shot For Your Family
If you’re older than 6 months old, consider getting a flu shot. Last year, half of New Yorkers skipped the flu shot, and more than 65,000 people got the flu, according to data analyzed by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
Flu shots can be a torturous experience for a little one. Prep your child for that flu shot with Sid the Science Kid:
Here are more tips specific to kids:
- Encourage your child to bring a favorite toy or comfort item to the appointment.
- Be a good role model by staying positive and cheerful during the shot.
- Remind your child (as well as yourself) that the shot is quick and will keep you healthy for a long time.
To be honest, these tips will probably work with my youngest child, but not my oldest. He. Hates. Shots. If you have any other ideas, please (please) share in the comments section below!
Tip #2 – “Catch” That Cough And Sneeze
Cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the crook of your arm (not into your hand!). This will help stop the germs from spreading to the rest of your family. It took me six years, but my eldest is finally doing this (kinda) most of the time. I can’t say the same for my 3-year-old. He’s a work in progress.
If you have a little one who just doesn’t get it, try telling him to “catch” his sneeze or cough in the crook of his arm.
Tip #3 – Stop Sharing That Fork
Don’t share food and eating utensils. As I’m writing this, that tip sounds overly obvious. Clearly, germs are easily spread this way.
But …. I may have a bad habit of sharing a plate of food with my preschooler. He’s not an adventurous foodie when we’re eating out. I usually just share a plate with him, knowing that he’d probably just waste a plate of food if I got him his own.
I may have to put an end to that bad habit!
Tip #4 – the ABCs And more Hand Washing Tips For Kids
Wash your hands – thoroughly. I’m a total #momfail with this one. Kids and adults need to scrub the entirety of their hands thoroughly with soap and wash with warm water. And they need to do this for more than just a few seconds!
Instead, my kids typically splash their hands through the water, maybe entertain the idea of grabbing a droplet of soap, before running on their way.
With my preschooler, I’m hoping this video from Elmo will help:
With my first grader, I plan to annoy him with reminders about singing the ABCs while washing!
Tip #5 – How To Avoid Pink Eye
I’m still scarred by what happened in February 2016. Both boys got sick twice, my husband was bed-ridden for a few days and I caught pink eye – in both eyes.
Avoiding pink eye is like avoiding any other sickness. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water, and don’t touch your eyes with unwashed hands.
But what if you’re like me and first get pink eye in one eye, and it then spreads to the other? Here are tips to keep it from spreading:
- Keep washing those hands! This is especially important before and after applying ointment to your eye.
- Throw away (cotton balls) or thoroughly wash (washcloths) all the stuff you use to clean the infected eye.
- Do not use the same eye drops for the infected eye with the healthy one.
- Keep washing pillowcases, sheets, washcloths and other towels, and keep washing your hands after doing this.
As I write this, my family is off to a bad start to the holiday sickness season. The illnesses started earlier this year, and we’ve already had one bout of pneumonia and several colds. But with some targeted education (ie: nagging), I’m hopeful we’ll have a healthier, happier holiday season.
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