Nothing strikes fear in a working mom’s heart more than the sound of a child getting up in the middle of the night and telling you that they feel sick.
Since I am relatively new to my job, I do not have a lot of personal leave stored up, and even if I did, most days I need to actually BE at work. . .I have a one-person department!
My goal is to keep my family as healthy as possible, so that the kids don’t need to miss school, and I don’t have to miss work.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
- I vaccinate. Yes. There. I said it. My kids are all up-to-date on their vaccines. I’ve done the research, and, more importantly, our family physician has done hers. We’ve decided that for the heath of our family and for the protection of our neighbors, our kids are vaccinated. This is not always a popular opinion on the internet. We have never had an adverse reaction to vaccines, and better yet, we’ve not had to deal with measles, chicken pox, whooping cough or rota-virus. Close your eyes and imagine a round of chicken pox going through a family of six kids. No thank you. Your mileage may vary.
- Good nutrition is key. We buy the best, most wholesome food that we can afford. I offer fresh fruits as snacks. We limit fast food and sodas (though they are not off-limits). I am not a huge fan of vitamin supplements (with the exception of vitamin D in the winter). I would rather we eat an orange or drink orange juice to get vitamin C. We cook nearly every meal we eat in cast iron pans to increase our iron consumption. A varied diet is key to childhood (and adult) nutrition.
- Sleep matters. I work on teaching good sleep habits to our kids. Go to bed when tired, sleep in a cool, dark room without electronics. Phones are turned off at night. Teens especially need more sleep than they usually get. All-nighters and lock-ins are terribly detrimental to mental and physical health of our kids and we avid them when possible.
- Keep moving: Exercise and active play not only give the body a good work out and build strength and endurance, they also lead to a better appetite and healthy sleep. As much as our kids enjoy “screen time” it is good for them to get a break and just MOVE!
- Hydrate I make sure my family drinks plenty of water. Our bodies need water to keep toxins flushed from our systems.
- Hand Washing I spent a few years working in a hospital and I come from a family of health care workers. Hand washing is important! I’m not a fan of the antibacterial soaps, and really, it is the surfactant action of a regular soap (we like the foamy pumps) and the friction of rubbing hands together that does the major work of removing germs. I also try to keep everyone’s fingernails trimmed short as this gives dirt, grime and germs fewer places to hide.
We divide and conquer.
If one of the children does manage to fall ill, they are placed in “isolation” and one parent (usually me) is assigned to tend to the kids in “sick bay”. An even marginally sick kid does not attend school or daycare. So, if there has been vomiting (or worse) or fever in the last 24 hours, I keep that child home for a day. Not only does this allow them to recover faster (rest is important), it also helps slow the spread of viruses.
I then do copious amounts of laundry (what is new, right?)
I’m a fan of good, old fashioned, chicken soup when sickness hits and I keep a whole chicken or two in the freezer so that I don’t even need to run to the store for supplies. The chicken soup serves a few purposes, The boiling and simmering soup helps add humidity to the air, which is great for respiratory illnesses. The warm broth is soothing and hydrating, and there may really be some natural antiinflammitory properties in a homemade chicken soup.
I’m also a big believer in zinc lozenges for early cold symptoms. I learned this from my grandfather who swore by them, and I don’t remember him having many colds! Who knows, it may be a placebo effect, but the zinc drops seem to shorten my cold symptoms.
When both parents work outside the home, it may be difficult to arrange for child care when a child is sick. However, this is not a good reason to send a sick child to school or daycare. I share some great strategies here for dealing with unplanned days off.
Chime in! How do you keep your family healthy? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear from you!