As a parent we are constantly bombarded by germs. Our kids pick up the flu, a stomach bug, or an upper respiratory infection quicker than they pick up proper grammar. So what should we believe? Do we keep them in a bubble or bathe them in gallons of hand sanitizers? Should you keep your kids home from school when classmates are sick just in case? What if there have been reported cases of H1N1 or Zika virus near you? Should we all start wearing masks to the grocery store?
Whoa. Slow down and back up (slowly so as not to run over anyone on the way). Here’s the thing. These illnesses are probably not going to come knocking at your door before breakfast tomorrow, but it’s best to be prepared regardless. There are some precautions you can take now. And let’s face it, pre-planning never hurt anyone (except maybe all those people who bought one of those wearable blankets on TV because they were just convinced it was going to be the next fashion craze).
So some simple precautionary steps to keep your fingers-in-everything, sneeze-in-your-face, what-do-you-mean-I-can’t-play-in-the-toilet toddler from picking up any unwanted germs these days:
1. Let’em wash! Make sure your toddler washes their hands before meals, after potty breaks, after coming from outside, and after sharing toys or items with others. Let them squeeze the soap or play in the sink. You can even let them get the whole front of their shirt wet. I won’t tell a soul.
2. Push the politeness. Practice being polite with your toddler. “We cover our mouth when we sneeze, just like this.” “We cover our mouth when we cough, see?” Toddlers are excellent mimics. Use a puppet, use a book, use Grandma Ruth, whatever works.
3. Carry reinforcements. My personal fave is Lysol Healthy Touch Hand Sanitizer Foam. It comes out in a foam, dries quickly and doesn’t leave your hands feeling like they belong on the crypt keeper. You can find it in the checkout line at most Wal-Marts, CVS, Walgreens, etc. Make it a habit to foam up whenever you can’t wash your hands, or after any particularly germ-filled experience. Did I mention it comes in this super handy small size that fits right in a purse or diaper bag?
4. Go on the defensive. Start thinking like a germ. Did you know for instance that a virus can live on almost any surface for up to two weeks? That means dinner menus at your favorite restaurant, grocery cart handles, the door to the public bathroom, the treadmill at the gym, THE BOTTOM OF YOUR PURSE!! Wipe these items down with sanitizing wipes or foam up after using them.
5. Ramp up bath time. I know, I know. Bath time sucks. It kills your back, your clothes get all wet, etc. It is a well known and documented fact that toddlers are the only ones who actually enjoy toddler bath time. But you’re going to have to suffer even more. Make sure your toddler gets a bath every day, or more often if they get into a particularly messy scenario. Consider buying some new bath toys to keep your little angel occupied and your sanity somewhat preserved.
Obviously if your child goes to day care or regular school, make a back up plan in case the class get overloaded with illness and you decide staying home really is the safest path. Hopefully things won’t get to that point, but one can never be too prepared. Good luck, and happy germ killing everyone!!