December has finally arrived. It’s the season of the yuletide niceties we hold near and dear. There’s something magical about a midday dusting of snow, strands of twinkling lights, the scent of cinnamon and spruce. But as we know, not everything is all peppermint sweets and Christmas carols. It’s also prime cold and flu season. While we all know the basic cold and flu season rigmarole, a little refresher on those healthy habits might be just what the doctor ordered. So while you stock up on tissues and chicken noodle soup, don’t forget to remind your kiddos about these simple steps to keep them safe and sick-day free.
Wash your hands. It’s the oldest trick in the book, and for good reason – it’s also the most effective. Colds and flus are most often contracted when we get the virus on our hands before touching our eyes, nose or mouth. Prevent the spread of cold-causing germs by making sure kids keep their hands clean. To instill the habit, ask children to wash hands with warm, soapy water before eating. Most doctors recommend washing for at least 20 seconds, or about the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also prove effective. If your kids are older, you can pack a small bottle in their backpack, or give them one to keep in their school locker. (Picture from She Knows)
Avoid sharing cups. Although it may sound simple, making sure your child sips from their own cup of hot cocoa (and not those belonging to siblings and friends) can go a long way during cold season. While you’re at it, help them avoid communal food containers like bowls of popcorn or bags of trail mix. Instead, use individual bowls or containers to prevent the spread of germs, or prep bulk snacks in small plastic bags for an easy on-the-go option. (Picture from She Knows)
Learn the “elbow achoo.” It’s inevitable. Even if it doesn’t develop into a full-blown cold or flu (knock on wood), sneezes and sniffles are bound to affect you or your family at least once during cold season. Make sure they know how to properly care for their symptoms to prevent the spread of germs. Show them how to sneeze and cough into the crook of their elbow instead of their hands, and remind them to throw away tissues immediately after use. Follow it up with a thorough hand washing to be safe. If the “Happy Birthday” song gets old, try “ABCD” or the chorus from their favorite Christmas carol. (Picture from Constant Contact)
Exercise. We know. Subfreezing weather doesn’t exactly entice us (or our kids) to go outside for a quick jog, either. But the truth is, exercise can help boost your immune system. Even though you can see your breath, it’s important to get out there and move. Contrary to popular belief, cold air does not cause colds. Try getting the kids to the nearest sledding hill, or making snow angels in the backyard. Ask older kids to help shovel the sidewalk or driveway. And if the cold really is just a little too much, try a fauxcation to the community pool for break from the snow and ice. (Picture from Pictures of Babies)
Sleep in. Make sure kids are getting plenty of sleep during cold and flu season. Being well-rested helps boost the cold-fighting power of the immune system, so take advantage of daylight savings time and hit the snooze. If sleeping in isn’t an option, try curling up in those flannel sheets and getting to bed a little earlier than usual. Help kids wind down after a busy day by starting the bedtime process earlier, or trading in evening screen time for a relaxing session of reading or journaling. (Picture from Huffington Post)
Whether your child has perfect school attendance or a perennial case of sneezes and sniffles, cold and flu prevention is something you can teach kids early on. With a few simple changes in your day-to-day routine, you can help your family stay healthy so you can get the most out of this holiday season.