Sick kid

because-I-said-so-blueMy sister and her new husband are coming to our house for Thanksgiving this year. They are traveling by plane, and when she emailed their itinerary to me, she also let me know she’d be traveling in a full outbreak-style suit to avoid contracting ebola. I laughed myself silly thinking of her cruising through the airport in gigantic white hazmat suit and then I had the thought: maybe I should invest in those for my family.

I’m not really worried about contracting ebola — although I guess anything is possible — but cold and flu season will be here soon, and I’m already dreading it. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind the wintertime. I like snow, cozy layered clothing and hot chocolate. But I don’t particularly care for runny noses and nasty viruses. I’m guessing you don’t care for those things, either. Yet at some point this winter, either my kids or yours will likely feel under the weather. And chances are high that they’ll pass that lovely feeling onto someone else, probably a sibling or friend or classmate or, if you’re lucky, you! So what’s a parent to do? Here are five tips for keeping your kids healthy this winter:

1. Send them outside

Fresh air is so good for kids, even when it’s cold outside. On days when it’s really frigid or the air quality is horrid, keep them inside. Otherwise, encourage your little bundles of joy to bundle up every day and head outside to play. Opening the windows for a few minutes every day to force out stale air helps too.

2. Hammer them with hygiene

You know what good hygiene is, and you know you’ve taught your kids. But it never hurts to frequently review the basics, in case they’ve forgot: use a tissue to blow your nose, wash your hands before eating, cover your mouth when you cough (but not with your hand), and so on.

3. Be the gatekeeper

I don’t let my kids go to other people’s houses when they are under the weather — or even appear to be — but there are, in fact, people that have no problem sending a sick kid over to play. (And I mean that in the most non-condescending way.) One approach is to casually ask the parent(s): Are your children well? Everyone healthy at your house? If the answer is a no or kinda or sorta, take that as your cue to reschedule the play date.

4. Try something new

If your kids are perpetually under the weather, maybe it’s time to try a different tactic. Test out the essential oils your neighbor always raves about, put a humidifier in their room at night or invest in an air purifier. You may be surprised at what works.

5. Keep your distance

As hard as it sounds, if one of your kids is sick, they may need to spend a few days vegging in front of the TV or reading in bed and away from everyone else. Otherwise, the sickness will keep going around and around and around.

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