Trying to raise healthy kids is one of the most difficult things to do. Especially if you have a school-aged child or more than one child, plan to take stock in cold remedies.
I grew up in a “germaphobic” household. My mom was very strict about our cleanliness and anti-germ crusades, and I’m pretty sure she would have hosed us off with a can of Lysol at the door if she didn’t think it would hurt our eyes. We rarely went out to dinner or to a grocery store, but when we did, hand sanitizer was always the fifth wheel on our family excursions. Even so, my brother was frequently sick (he had asthma and frequently had ear infections, bronchitis, and even pneumonia as a baby).
Taking care of sick kids is never fun. With my kids’ asthma and allergies, it’s extra important for me to keep them as healthy as possible. Although we’ve had our share of sickness this fall, we’ve been trying our best to stay healthy. Here’s what we’re doing:
Take Washing to a New Level
My kids have horrible eczema, which can easily turn into impetigo (a bacteria that everyone has on their skin but causes horrible rashes on my kids’ sensitive skin) at the first sign of germs. Our allergist recommended weekly bleach baths to minimize the germs. When he first suggested it, I was appalled and convinced that the bleach would hurt their baby skin, but it has helped us so much.
The ratio of bleach to bath water makes the bath the equivalent of swimming in a pool. Fill the water to the top of the tub and then add 1/4 cup of bleach. It’s diluted just enough to kill the germs, but not harsh enough to hurt them. I also take great care to rinse them well after the bath just to be safe, followed by their cream regimen (always use cream instead of lotion on sensitive skin since most lotions contain rubbing alcohol).
My pediatrician recommended rubbing Vicks on the kids’ sensitive skin. Although Vicks makes a “baby rub,” I was too nervous to try it. Since their skin breaks out over everything, I decided to try the Vicks plug-in. It worked really well and I used lavender pads in the kids’ rooms and menthol pads in my bedroom. Our house smelled like a medicine cabinet, but we were able to sleep at night and we were less congested.
Essential Oils to the Rescue
I’m probably the least “crunchy” person you’ll ever meet (just take a look at all the non-organic Oreos in my pantry), but after having great success with the plug-ins, I thought I’d give essential oils a try. I started by mixing lavender oil and water in a spray bottle and spraying a mist throughout our house. After I read more about essential oils, though, I decided to try a few more. I still like to spritz lavender oil around the house, but I’ve also started diffusing Young Living’s Thieves oil blend, which helps boost immunity. Anytime someone’s sick in the house, I diffuse oils twice a day.
Maybe it’s just the power of suggestion, but I have noticed that we’re less likely to get sick as a family since I started diffusing oils. This fall, my daughter and I seemed to pass germs back and forth (probably from all the extra cuddles and snotty kisses she likes to give when she’s sick), but the farmer and my and son were spared.
Get on a Schedule
Sleep is by far one of the most important ways to keep your family healthy. Kids need their sleep, not only so they don’t throw temper tantrums in the middle of the library, but also so that they can stay healthy. To maximize the benefits of your child’s sleep, start them on a sleep schedule as soon as possible.
I’m a huge believer in schedules. While it may seem early, my kids are in bed by 7:00 every night. To do so, we have to start baths by 6:00. By setting a consistent bedtime routine (baths at 6:00, storytime at 6:30, and then bedtime at 7:00), my kids know what to expect. For the most part, even the baby goes to sleep without a hitch.
I also firmly believe in nap time/downtime. Even my five-year-old still takes naps (if he doesn’t sleep, he lies “in bed with his eyes open”). On the days that he doesn’t, it’s clearly obvious when he’s bouncing off the walls at dinnertime.
Teach Kids to Keep Their Hands Down
We’re a very “hands-on” family, and the kids are constantly playing in the dirt. Unfortunately, they also like to put things (their hands included) in their mouths. Once I trained the kids (it’s a work in progress) to keep their hands out of their mouths, our family has been much healthier.
We also have a strict hand-washing policy. Every time the kids come in from outside, before all meals, and after any “dirty” activities, the kids run to the bathroom to splash away in the sink.
Keeping your family healthy is an ongoing process. It’s so frustrating when you have to cancel plans or spend sleepless nights trying to nurse your family to health. Germs are a part of life, but by minimizing them as much as possible and creating healthy habits, hopefully, your family can stay well.