2021 has finally arrived. As you prepare to send your children back to school, it’s important to take steps to prevent the spreading of germs. Colds and viruses are easily spread among students in a school environment. To help keep your kids healthy, teach them to maintain proper hygiene habits. This year, there are many ways you can prevent the spread of germs so you can consistently stay healthy. Here are five simple tips to get started.
1. Wash Your Hands
As simple as it sounds, washing your hands is an easy way to mitigate illnesses among your family. Washing hands helps you cleanse your body of bacteria, which helps you stop the spread of any virus you have interacted with. Whenever the kids have a cold or flu, I’m constantly washing my own hands and reminded my kids to wash their hands more often too—unless they want to be dealing with whatever unpleasantness is affecting their sibling.
In a school setting, there are often hand-washing and sanitizing stations students can use throughout the day. When your child stays healthy, they are able to learn effectively. Make sure children and teens prioritize this habit and wash their hands for the appropriate amount of time. Splashing some water on their hands (as my 5-year-old does) is not going to get rid of any viruses. Get your kids to sing a song like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Jesus Loves Me” while washing their hands, or say a prayer like “Our Father” as a way to remember to wash for an appropriate length of time.
Washing with soap and water is always the best option to prevent the spread of germs. If that isn’t available, make sure you have hand sanitizer or anti-bacterial wipes handy. I now keep hand sanitizer in my purse and truck, so that when we’ve been in a store, we can sanitize as soon as we get back to the truck (before they touch anything, hopefully!). School-age kids could have a bottle of hand sanitizer in their backpacks, in case it’s not available at school.
2. Coughing and Sneezing
Coughing can be caused by a tickle in the throat and sneezing can be a result of dust in the air. While these symptoms aren’t always caused by a cold or virus, they can still potentially spread germs through the air. Remind your children that anytime they need to cough or sneeze, they should do so into their elbow or into a Kleenex, and not into their hands or onto their desks or those around them.
When Sunshine was in preschool, her teachers taught her, “If you cough or if you sneeze, use your elbow if you please!” This little rhyme has stuck in our heads and is a friendly, upbeat way to remember good hygiene. You can also make sure that older students have travel packs of tissues in their backpacks if they need. And of course, if they do sneeze or blow their noses, they should throw out the tissue and wash their hands.
3. Avoid Engaging with Sick People
If you don’t want your family to suffer from an unwanted illness, avoid engaging with those who are sick. This sounds easy, but I know how difficult it is to cancel a long-planned playdate when one of the kids develops a runny nose or wakes up at midnight to puke. It’s hard to disappoint your kids and easy to justify the symptoms as a one-off or something minor that surely wouldn’t spread if you don’t let the kids hug each other.
However, even symptoms such as sneezing and coughing can be indicators of a more serious virus. It is important that you make sure to cancel plans and avoid engaging with people who have colds or other viruses. In addition, stay away from individuals who have a cold sore; these small sores are often contagious for weeks.
One advantage of the current pandemic has been that fewer parents are sending kids to school sick. I kept Lily from home after she spent a night coughing; she seemed fine the next morning, but it seemed better to err on the side of caution. If your child notices that a friend is at school despite having a runny nose, encourage your child to wear their mask and to wash their hands lots to prevent the spread of germs.
4. Be Disciplined
In order to stay well, your body must be equipped to fight off disease. When your body is exhausted or depleted, it will not have the ability to maintain a strong immune system. You can enhance your immune system by:
- exercising frequently
- getting an adequate amount of sleep
- eating healthy meals throughout the week
- taking Vitamin C supplements
This discipline will not only improve your overall well being, but it will boost your immunity as well. Most school-aged students need at least nine hours of rest each night. None of my kids are huge fans of bedtime, but we try to make sure that lights are out in their bedrooms by 8 pm every night. (That means checking on my older daughters at 8:30 to make sure that they haven’t gotten lost in one of their huge novels and forgotten to turn off the light.)
5. Be Overly Cautious
With the viral nature of the common cold and flu (and other viruses), it’s important to take all of the necessary steps to ensure safety among school-aged children by preventing the spread of germs. Before school starts, consider whether immunization is right for your child and which ones they need. If your child has any signs of body aches or head pain, check their temperature and ensure they don’t have a fever. If they are suffering from a common cold, let other parents and teachers know so they can encourage their students to wear masks and wash hands or keep your child at home if possible.
Stock up on Boiron homeopathic cold remedies and Echinaforce so that if your kids do show symptoms of illness, you can treat them quickly. If you can’t completely stop your child from catching a cold or flu, you can treat it quickly so that your child spends less time sick—and is hopefully also contagious for a shorter time.
Unfortunately, many illnesses and viruses spread quickly. As students return to school, it is likely many colds and viruses will spread among the classroom. Although you can’t totally prevent your child from getting sick, these steps should help prevent a few illnesses. By taking proactive steps and prioritizing your well being, you can improve the health of your family and your community.
How do you talk to your kids about preventing the spread of germs? What tips have helped your family stay healthy this winter?