Disclaimer: you might think I’m crazy after reading this.
I think most moms are cautious of germs to some extent. Even the most relaxed among us probably wouldn’t let their baby crawl around on a hospital floor, but I think it’s safe to say those same mothers aren’t as on edge about flu season as those of us who are bonafide germaphobes.
Even before I had my daughter, I was that crazy person who hated shaking hands and used sanitizer religiously. If someone around me was sick, I was eager to get as far away from them as possible. Now that I have a baby, my compulsive tendencies have increased exponentially. I see germs everywhere. I make people wash their hands before touching her. And don’t even get me started on the cesspool of viruses and bacteria that is the grocery store (or any public place). I’m not your average germaphobe though . . . I’m pretty sure I’m in a special, crazy obsessive class.
And winter is coming.
And the holidays (shudder).
What’s a mom like me to do?
For those like me (and even those who aren’t half as worried about sickness), here is how I have always survived flu season, and some added tricks you can apply with your little ones:
1. Boost your family’s immune system with healthy foods and supplements.
I mean, this should be a no-brainer anyway. Healthy equals happy, especially when your kiddos are healthy. Did you know sugar is like a bullet to your immune system? I know, I know. The holidays are all about sugar. Just eat it in moderation! My daughter is formula fed, so she doesn’t have the benefit of natural immunity from my antibodies. She gets a probiotic every day.
2. Ask people to wash their hands before handling your baby, even if they just came from their house.
Think about it: in all likelihood, they went to the store or some other public place within the last few days. That means their Walmart germs, or their relative’s sick germs, or whatever other germs, are probably hanging out comfortably on their steering wheel, and on their phone, and on their wallets. They touched those things on the way to your house, and now they’re wanting to touch your baby. If you don’t feel like asking, put a sign on your front door. Signs are your friend.
3. Let’s talk about throw-up germs.
Probably everyone’s least favorite, but in my experience, people aren’t as educated about them as they should be. Guess what? Almost all household cleaners fail at killing them. If you want to make sure they’re gone, use bleach. Every. Single. Time. They also linger on surfaces longer than you’d think. A study of Norovirus showed it can live for weeks on hard surfaces. And even once a person has stopped showing symptoms, they can still shed the virus for up to two weeks after they’re feeling better, so encourage them to continue washing their hands thoroughly, and make sure you do the same. It’s not crazy if you’re using common sense!
4. Avoid public places during the busy times, like evenings and close to holidays.
Get your shopping done early!
5. For the love of Pete, stay home if you’re sick!
Sharing is NOT always caring!
6. Take extra care with hand washing when traveling.
I wash up after every flight and before I eat anything.
7. Teach your kids good hygiene habits, but do your best not to make them obsess about germs.
I don’t want my daughter worrying as much as I do!
8. Take a deep breath.
If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to panic when you start thinking about this stuff too much. Do your best to enjoy your time with friends and family this holiday season. If there’s one thing that doesn’t help your immune system, it’s probably stress!
Inevitably, sickness will happen in some form or another. But you can do your part in preventing it from spreading to other family members, and to the public in general.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Germaphobe