7 Ways to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season

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Prepare for cold and flu season

Cold and Flu – and don’t forget stomach bug – season is here, and something is bound to hit someone in your home. The question is just how hard?

Without becoming a total germaphobe, here are some ways to reduce the impact of viruses in your house – and teach kids some good skills for protecting themselves from illness.

  • Wash and wipe hands. Get kids and yourself in the habit of washing hands before snacks and meals. Use warm water and scrub with soap while counting to 10. If you can’t get to a sink, use hand wipes or sanitizer. Make sure you carry one or the other in your bag. Once someone gets sick, double up your hand washing – and resist all urges to touch your face with unclean hands. Your eyes, nose and mouth are the biggest germ entry points.
  • Disinfect dirtiest areas. What are the germiest areas of your home? Doorknobs, sink faucets and toilet seats and handles, for the most part. Also, make sure to sanitize the remote control, computer keyboard, and favorite cups. Keep in mind that kids are their most contagious two-three days before they show symptoms, so once the virus hits, disinfect their backpacks, bed sheets (yours too if they still snuggle with you in the morning) and their most visited spots.
  • Teach prevention. Kids are taught in preschool that they should cough into their arms and resist the urge to share cups. Keep this in good practice at home as well.
  • Get your rest. The best way to prevent these bugs is to get your rest – before they strike. Build your immunity by getting lots of sleep. And if you’re feeling run down, go to bed as soon as the kids do. Explain to kids that sleep helps keep them healthy – so they won’t be too sick for basketball practice and the weekend birthday party.
  • Boost the Vitamin C and zinc-rich foods. Healthy eating is important all year long, but during the sick-season, it’s extra important. Zinc and vitamin C are immunity-building ingredients. As an adult, I take Ester-C (500 mg) two times a day. I’ll even add an Airborne if I’m feeling sniffly. For kids, talk to them about the importance of eating their fruits and veggies. Kids under 6 should have 3 servings of veggies and two servings of fruit each day. Kids over 6, get even more (3-5 veggie servings and 2-4 fruits).
  • Create a preventative care plan. Okay, worst case scenario, the kids are too sick to go to school. What is your back-up plan? And if you have more than one child, what is your plan if this slowly spreads throughout the house – causing you to be out for 3 or more days? If you don’t have a nanny, create a list of babysitters who are available during the day and willing to care for sick kids. College kids are especially helpful, if their schedule allows (which is why you should have a list of 5 or more options). See if you can create an emergency plan for each day of the week (as in, On Mondays, Jessica is available. Tuesdays, call Sophie.)
  • Talk to HR. The option that will cause the least amount of anxiety is if your company has a care plan in place for you. A service like Care.com Workplace Solutions offers backup care as a company benefit. So when your nanny is sick, or if your child is too sick for school or daycare, you can call the service and have a professionally vetted nanny at your door. The last thing HR wants is for their employees to take off for someone’s illness other than their own. So discuss this with them as a possibility.
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Tips provided by Katie Herrick Bugbee, Care.com

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