Monday, September 28, 2009

Keeping mom healthy when baby is sick

It has been five weeks since my son came home from school with strep throat. But somehow the virus must have lingered maybe on his backpack or his toothbrush or his delicate skin because this weekend the same virus leveled me. When my son comes down with a cold or fever, I expect to catch his ailment. I usually don’t, which I credit to a healthy immune system that built up strength when as a kid I tangled with a variety of mud, germs and lake water. Besides, people are most contagious up to two to three days before they start exhibiting symptoms. I figure, by the time my son’s fever spikes or his nose starts to drip, the damage has been done.

sick2And when my most precious little boy is miserable sick, I have to love on him. I have to cradle his hot body in my arms and hold the tissue when he blows and press my cheek to his blazing forehead and rub his back when his small tummy turns concave and rejects everything in its grasp.

According to a University of Arizona study, this is one of the many reasons why a woman’s chances of getting sick double when she becomes a mother. And since it is almost impossible for mothers – and fathers, too – to be sick when we have young kids, we must get our germ-fighting game on. Here are some pointers:

Be the Hand-Washing Nazi. Most infections spread through hand-to-hand contact. The Centers for DiseaseControl recommends that you scrub your hands with soap for 20 seconds. If you want to be extra safe, try following up with a moisturizing alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Use Hot Water for Laundry. This goes against the green movement, but when your child is sick, hot water will kill more germs than cold. Some studies show that people who launder their clothes in hot water miss fewer days of work and their children register fewer sick days at school. Oh yeah, and after you handle those dirty clothes, be sure to wash your hands again.

Beware the Favorite Toys. My son’s stuffed kitty and his race cars get sneezed and snotted on more than any other object in the house … besides me. Best to avoid touching those things until my son is on the mend. Once your sick one starts feeling better, be sure to wash and sanitize those toys in a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to one gallon of water. Drain, rinse and then allow toys to air dry overnight.

Do the Disinfectant Dance. Back when I used to work in an office, I would laugh at people who walked around with Lysol cans spraying their computer keyboards and telephones. But apparently, they are the ones with the last laugh. Those sprays and wipes can kill germs on commonly touched surfaces around the house, too, such as the telephone, remote control and countertops. The most effective disinfectants are those with an EPA registration number and the word “disinfectant” on the label.

Teach Your Family How to Cough and Sneeze. Back in the olden days when I was a kid we were taught it was polite to cover our mouths with our hands when we coughed or sneezed. Turns out, hand-to-hand contact spreads the most germs. The Centers for Disease Control suggests, if you don’t have a tissue handy, to sneeze into your elbow or on your sleeve. If that freaks you out, consider sending your child off with aGermy Wormy disposable sleeve.

Get Plenty of Rest. Sleep is key to a healthy immune system. Be sure your kids are getting adequate sleep so that their little bodies have the energy to fight any germs that latch on them during the day.


Photo, JWJourney

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