Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What Helped Keep Us Healthy This Winter

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:

and 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.


  1. I'm still banking on my (probably false) assumption that kids don't get sick in the desert. It's my silver lining of, you know, moving to the middle of the desert. :D

  2. I am a believer in probiotics helping to keep my family healthy.

  3. I know this sounds crazy but one of my biggest fears about potentially having a big family is the endless cycle of illness. So paranoid, much panic.

    1. For my big family, it's not so much illness. Really! It seems like we have one horrible winter of illness, followed by 2 or so easy ones. (A little cold here, a little cough there, nothing major). So I think the kids get exposed to new germs all in one season, pass it around, and activate their little immune systems. Then we're good for a year or two. (The only year we made everyone get a flu shot was the year my daughter was born premature - we weren't going to risk her health.) So mostly, it's not as bad as you might think.

  4. Love the toothbrush sanitizer! What a great idea! And I read somewhere that every time you flush you should close the lid to keep stuff from spraying around. I know this but I never do it.

  5. Hyperbiotics is THE BEST. They have an adult immune support formula that knocked out at least two breast infections when Rosalie was a newborn. I couldn't believe it. I now keep it around for whenever we feel low.

    I really need to look into that toothbrush holder. Makes so much sense. In Korea at a lot of restaurants they keep their clean metal cups and chop sticks in similar ultrasonic boxes. The blue light just feels sanitary, you know? ;)

  6. Why do I always forget to throw away the toothbrushes??? We've been an endless cycle of stomach bugs and colds this year - it's AWFUL. But gosh, the cost of all those probiotics for that many children every day... Think they'll sell them to us in bulk? ;)

  7. The toothbrush holder?! Well add that to my wishlist!

  8. Oh my many things. First of all, when you said you never feel like you have too many kids until they're all sick? So right on. Second, the toilet water getting on toothbrushes! Yes! Gross! I watched a documentary/show/episode once where they went inside a bathroom with a uv light and could tell where all the toilet water germs went and the toothbrushes on the counter next to the toilet lit up like the 4th of July and I will never forget that. Our toothbrushes are stowed away in a drawer. Third, my mother-in-law (love her) is obsessed with using anti-bacterial soaps and I've always thought maybe they're not the best so thanks for letting me win that one. I will be (lovingly) bringing it up. Haha! Praying you all stay healthy!

  9. Thanks for sharing this list!! I am Anxiety Girl. For reals. You don't know how often during the winter I fret and then when someone is sick how worried I get. Will everyone get it? Will it amount to something bigger? Do I need to take them to the dr? Is their breathing ok? How do bigger families with more kids do it?!? Oh seriously, I am weird. I try to be consistent with essential oils, diffusing them, Vitamin D spray and we did the homemade elderberry syrup this year as well. Thankfully, we kept away most things and did our best to keep Benny healthiest of all. I'll keep this post saved for the fall when I turn the calendar and turn into Anxiety Girl on the brink of another winter season. lol.

  10. Thanks for sharing this. We do have our toothbrushes out in the open, but they're on the other side of the bathroom from the toilet so that's the only reason I can sleep at night. (Someone did tell me though, that men with beards have lots of, um, those germs, in their facial hair and that's why I will never, ever let Phillip participate in No-Shave November!)


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