Your little tykes are known to spread germs like wildfire (hence the practice of sending a kid with chicken pox to school to infect the entire class). And while you can’t necessarily control what goes on in the classroom (since other kids are bound to disrupt whatever routine you have in place), you can certainly act to keep your kids relatively germ-free (and eminently healthier) at home. However, there’s a lot more to it than maintaining a clean and tidy house. You have to instill certain practices and principles in your kids from a young age to ensure that they take their own health issues to heart, not only at home, but when they venture out into the world. And other moms will thank you for it.
1. The new way to sneeze. Sneezing is one of the worst offenders when it comes to spreading airborne illnesses, either because kids sneeze into their hands and then touch things or because they neglect to cover their mouths at all. The same goes for coughing. And while generations of parents have tried to train their kids to wash hands after coughing or sneezing, it should come as no surprise that they often get distracted or simply forget this crucial step. Instead, some brilliant doctor or parent has recently decided that the better way to sneeze is into your shirtsleeve (i.e. your elbow or shoulder). While this could get a bit gross if a lot of detritus is expelled, it will ensure that fewer germs are spread to other kids.
2. Hand-washing practices. Of course, the go-to solution for stopping germs in their tracks is frequent hand-washing. Teaching kids to do this after bathroom use or when they are sick is just common sense. But in order to be effective, it must be done correctly. Use warm water and soap and scrub vigorously for at least 15-20 seconds (the easiest way to gauge this is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, or the alphabet song once), and dry with a disposable paper towel. You can also use sani-wipes or liquid hand-sanitizer in a pinch, but try not to make a habit of this since it is speculated that it kills good bacteria and creates resistant germ strains.
3. To each his own. Ensure that your kids don’t spread germs to each other by giving them all their own household accoutrements (this is especially important if you have many kids). This means their own toothbrushes and towels as well as training them not to eat and drink from each other’s dishware.
4. Embrace wet-wipes. Anti-bacterial wipes are a great way to keep your kids from sharing germs. Use them to wipe down surfaces that they touch often, like tables, toys, and any other household items (such as the remote) that are used by everyone. This is not only a good way to keep your kids from infecting each other (and you), but to keep your house clean.
5. Quarantine. This is a word that not many people want to apply to their children, and in truth, it’s not totally plausible to separate kids, even when one is ill. But if you can keep your sick child in bed and the other kids away, it will effectively stem the spread of germs as well as allowing the ailing child plenty of time for rest and recovery (at least until they’re out of the contagious stage).