Back to school is upon us which means that back to bugs isn’t very far away either. For us Mums of little people who are vulnerable to complications from coughs and colds, the school year is dark and full of terrors. But rather than sitting rocking backwards and forwards in fear about the evil bugs my child may encounter, I thought it might be more useful to talk about the little things we can all do to help the health of our children and their classmates.
My youngest child has Cystic Fibrosis, so hands up, this is a partially selfish post as I attempt to protect her and give her the best chance of a hospital-admission-free first year at school. But it’s not just that. Putting my cough-and-sneeze-aphobia to one side, these simple things will help protect every single child in the classroom from unnecessary misery.
Catch it, bin it, kill it
Sneezes are the sneakiest little f***ers on the planet. They spend their days blasting cold and flu particles into the air to be breathed in by the next unsuspecting victim. The best method to put a stop to their wicked ways is to teach your child to catch the sneeze in a tissue, bin the tissue and wash their hands. I hear you, I hear you, if your child is young and busy and has the attention span of a gnat, this is a great theory but a difficult practice. In which case, the next best thing is to…
Give them the elbow
If a tissue is not an option, encourage your child to cover their coughs and sneezes so that they catch the germs rather than disperse them into the air. Best not to catch them in the hands though as hands will spread the germs around through touch – instead, teach your child to cough into their elbow. Elbows will make little or no contact with surfaces and therefore are a good alternative-to-tissue target.
If it’s green, get it seen
Green doesn’t necessarily mean a bacterial infection; the colour can come from neutrophils that your body has sent to fight a viral cold infection, for example. But it does mean that something is up, so encourage good hygiene and if the green doesn’t resolve after a few days and is accompanied by a temperature or general poor form/loss of appetite, consider a trip to the GP to see if the infection is progressing.
Clean hands save lives
If you think of all the things your hands touch in a day, it’s not hard to imagine the invisible germ load that they carry. Of course healthy people don’t feel the need to be as obsessive about hand hygiene as those who are vulnerable, BUT it’s not always obvious when someone around you is vulnerable. Good hand hygiene helps protect those with underlying illnesses, but it will also help protect healthy children from picking up every single thing doing the rounds. No matter what your health status is, proper hand hygiene before eating and after the toilet is a real sickness saver.
Don’t pull reverse sickies
Your child is sick but they really really don’t want to miss school. You’re busy at work and keeping them home would cause a whole load of hassle and stress. I get that it’s difficult, but reverse sickies are not the solution. If your child is feeling miserable, sharing is not caring! Give them a chance to fight off their illness – keep them at home, they’ll get rid of it faster and they won’t ‘gift’ it to others. Things can be passed on before symptoms develop and nobody can help that, but when symptoms are present, consider if your child should be absent.
Take antibiotics as prescribed
If your child (or you, or anyone else in the family) doesn’t need an antibiotic, don’t give one. And if they do, finish the course as instructed. Antibiotic resistant superbugs are the white walkers of our world – let’s not encourage their rise to power.
Lead by example
If your children see you practising good hygiene, they will naturally do the same thing. If you make it the norm, it becomes second nature. You’ll be protecting the health of your family. And without realising it, you’ll also be protecting the health of families like mine.
I have no dragons or swords or wildfire to make anyone pay attention to my words, but in this battle for life, I’d be thrilled if we were all on the same side.
Here’s hoping this Winter is not a long one!
Thanks for reading,
Image from pixabay