Did you know that within the first eight days of kindergarten my son picked up his first bug and had to stay home? 8 days! Where I am, we’re on a year round calendar, so we had a little bit of a head start on the school year. Apparently, we also had a head start on the germs.
I don’t consider myself a germaphobe, but I do consider myself a person who seriously dislikes the hassle of sickness. Coughs, colds, sneezes, the goo, the interrupted sleep, the chaos it brings to your routines… ugh! I know without a doubt my children will get sick this year, multiple times. After our super early in the school year reminder of the annoyance of sickness though, I put in place some serious stay healthy tips for our family. I am by no means a doctor or medical professional, but I am a mom with some ideas that can hopefully keep our families a little healthier.
1. Clean hands. You’ve heard it a million times, but clean hands are one of the biggest keys to staying healthy.
- Mom Tip: Have your child clean his or her hands AS SOON as they join you after school. Keep a hand cleaner (sanitizer or whatever natural alternative you prefer) in the car if you pick your child up from school or afterschool care. If they ride a bus home, have them wash their hands as soon as they walk in the door at home.
2. Stay hydrated. You always hear about drinking plenty of fluids once sickness has already set in, but staying hydrated is an important part of keeping the germs away in the first place.
- Mom Tip: School days are long, and trips to the water fountain aren’t always easy. Pack a water bottle for your child to take to lunch or have at snack at school if possible. You can also have a drink (preferably water) ready for them to down right after they finish cleaning their hands at the end of the school day.
3. Eat healthy snacks. This is another one of those things you know, but can really make a big difference. Healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are good for you!
- Mom Tip: If your family likes grapes, give them grapes. Grapes are good for all ages and are a great source of Vitamin C. In our house, we eat grapes either as part of our lunch or a snack pretty often.
4. Know how much sleep is enough. According to WebMD, children 3 – 6 need 10 – 12 hours of sleep a day and 7 – 12 year olds need 10 – 11 hours of sleep a day. Take a look at your household routines and figure out if your student is actually getting enough sleep.
- Mom Tip: Protect the sanctity of bedtime. With extracurricular activities, work schedules, homework, dinner and more, bedtime doesn’t always seem to take the highest priority. If homework is the road block, put it off. As a parent and a former teacher, I’m saying that teachers would rather you send a note saying you worked on homework and had to stop, than have you send an overtired kid to school. Try not to make it a habit, but sleep is important.
5. Clean manners are good manners. Sometimes kids do things that are gross. Have real conversations about NOT doing things like picking noses and biting nails. Talk about why it is important to keep your hands out of your mouth. It sounds gross, but we all know it happens all. the. time.
6. Take care of yourself too! So many of my friends have told me that their kids’ first years in school were some of the sickest for their whole family. There will be germs in your house that you are just not used to and there are no substitutes you can call in to cover for you to get well. The best plan is to make sure that YOU are washing your hands, eating healthy, drinking plenty, getting enough sleep… and not picking your nose. 😉