How to have a healthy family during a crazy germ season:
Not to brag, but I was a germophobe long before being a germophobe was all the rage. You could call me a pioneering germophobe. Our family socially distanced before it was cool. We lived like hermits and rage cleaned things normal people wouldn’t even consider cleaning.
We feared germs. We could SEE germs crawling on surfaces thought to be clean. We lived in fear of germs because one of our kids was severely immune-compromised. Our only goal was to have a healthy family! This post was originally written six years ago, but the tips have incredible relevance today.
(Published September 2014, updated for accuracy and republished in March 2020.)
With a worldwide viral pandemic, I am not surprised when friends reach out for advice on how to live in a “germ-free bubble.” Once a germaphobic mom – always a germaphobic mom!
I know our “bubble-like” lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But for some families with “germ sensitive” children, there is no such thing as “just a virus.” Even the rhino-virus (aka the common cold) can send immune-compromised children to the hospital with severe complications. As we find ourselves in the season of giving and sharing – please be mindful of your friends and family who might not love the idea of germ-sharing. All we want this season is a healthy family!
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The ten best ways to keep your family healthy this season
– from a family with four (nose-picking, snot-sharing, butt-scratching, and dirt-digging) boys!
- Wipes in school lunch boxes. I know, I know – the kids probably don’t use them, but there is always HOPE! These are the wipes we use daily.
- Hand sanitizer in the car. Everyone should use hand sanitizer when you get in the car from being at school, the store – wherever your travels take you.
- No shoes inside the house! This rule may be hard for some of your visitors to “remember”. I found that leaving a cute indoor mat in the entryway with your family’s shoes is a great subtle reminder.
- After school, have the kids bathe and put on clean clothes! This is the number ONE rule for our boys! Have the kids strip down as soon as they get home, give them a shower and have them put on clean clothes. School clothes should be washed separately and immediately. This not only prevents the spread of school germs, but it also makes bedtime that much easier! WIN-WIN!
- Wash hands upon entering the house. Like the “no shoes” rule, this one applies to everyone as well. For the people (relatives) who can’t seem to remember this one, have a bottle of hand sanitizer on the counter or on a small entryway table.
- Avoid/ limit indoor play areas. For families with immune-compromised children, this one is a biggie. Personally, I break out in hives when I see plastic ball pits. (The thought of them right now give me the heebie-jeebies!)
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- Careful with play dates and birthday parties. There is nothing worse than taking your child to a play date or birthday party, only to enter a room full of coughing kids. Ask your friends to let you know in advance if their kids are sick or recovering from anything contagious. It is then up to you, on a case by case basis, to decide if you should take a rain check.
- Avoid indoor public gatherings. During the fall and winter months, try to avoid large indoor congregations, especially if there are many children present. Schedule pictures with Santa for the early hours, go to the mall early before the crowds start, go to the least crowded showings at the movie theatre… you get the picture.
- Avoid getting pool water in the eyes, nose or mouth. While pools are chlorinated and cleaned, there are still many bacteria that can be spread when the water enters our bodies – don’t think too much about this one, it’s so gross. This was a tip from a doctor – not just a result of my neurotic germaphobic adventures.
- Avoid shopping carts, public high chairs and changing tables. Of course, there are times where we have to use these items, but if at all possible, be prepared with covers, sanitizing wipes and caution!
As you can see, living in a bubble does not mean missing out on life or festivities. It simply means taking precautions that others might not have thought of and sticking to your convictions.
May all your giving and sharing be of the beautiful things in life – and not of snot and germs!
As you stock up your medicine cabinet, be sure to check out how I keep our medicine cabinet organized, for four kids and with lots of medications!