I have been waiting to write this post until the winter season was completely over, so I could accurately say that our family has been amazingly healthy this winter. Now that I've typed that out, I'm knocking on my desk so hard that my knuckles are bruised. Because you all know what happens as soon as you think or utter the words "The kids haven't been sick in a while..."
Bam, drop the mic to pick up the puke bucket.
The winter previous, we were sooooo sick alllll the time, and it did a number on my mental health. I never feel like I have too many children until the stomach bug passes through my house. Not once, but twice. And strep got passed along in two rounds as well. And colds galore, Maggie had the flu, pink eye hit the older boys, Phil cracked a rib from coughing so violently, Xander and Declan need nebulizer treatments, the list just went on and on. Many holidays and parties and playdates were cancelled and it felt like we would never all be healthy at the same time ever again.
Calm down, Colleen.
Okay, so when we were prepping for this winter, I said to myself, "Self, what can I do to make sure the kids (the disease-spreaders) are healthier this time around?" And here's the plan I came up with.
When strep started making it's way through our house, the doctor would prescribe antibiotics, and tell me to throw away the toothbrush after 24 hours and replace it with a new one. Easy peasy, except when I went to go replace the strep-infected toothbrush, I realized that ALL THE KIDS TOOTHBRUSHES WERE IN A HOLDER TOUCHING EACH OTHER! I mean, I like knew this is how their toothbrushes were kept, but it didn't hit me how disgusting that was until the great Martin Winter of Disease and Doom.
So I bought this toothbrush holder for my kid's bathroom, as seen in the photo below:
It sanitizes the toothbrushes every time the door is closed, and the closed door also keeps toilet water from spraying on the toothbrushes. (I don't know if that's factual but my best friend as a teenager told me that's what happens when you flush the toilet and your toothbrushes are sitting out in the open. And it was gross enough to remember all these years later.)
Every day the kids get these:
I switched out their soap from an anti-bacterial soap to just a regular hand soap. We also stopped using anti-bacterial gels unless we were in an emergency situation, whereas before, they had slathered them on like lotion. My reasoning for this is that kids need good bacteria in their systems, and by trying to kill all the germs and bacteria, we could be helping to promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria. You can read more good reasons to stop using all things anti-bacterial here.
(Note, this is just how I feel about hand soaps...when I clean my house, I use bleach and you don't even want to see how neurotic I get about potential salmonella poisoning.)
This is a no-brainer, but we stay as clean as possible. Sure the kids play outside and get messy, eat food that's fallen on the floor, and get sneezed/coughed on by friends (JP just relayed a story that his buddy had sneezed all over the back of his head in math class and his whole neck was wet. Excuse me while I barf. Okay, I'm back, and two pounds lighter.) That's life and we can't control that. But, we can make them wash their hands or take a shower as soon as they get home from school/sports. We also do a load of laundry every night. I wash all the hand towels and kitchen towels daily, and we run the kitchen sponge through the dishwasher with every cycle (you can also microwave a damp sponge for 2 minutes to kill most germs).
So that's the list, not very impressive, but it worked for us! We also had an unseasonably warm winter and no little ones starting school for the first time, so that helped I'm sure. Now please baby Jesus, keep this health train chugging along. Amen.