You have to be tad delusional to imagine that a child can sail through winter without a cold. The common, garden varieties are a good way for kids to be exposed to germs and build up their immunity before they hit school. But there is a whole other range of nasties that I think we would all be fine with if we were never exposed to them. Topping the list would probably be gastro and hand foot and mouth. Albeit the detox and 24 hour weight loss benefits these viruses offer parents, seeing your child sick is awful. I think we can all get a bit complacent and I have been guilty of this. We had a good run of a few months without sickness and you start feeling a little bit untouchable and then the universe goes – BAM, welcome back to reality here’s a dose of diarrhoea. So here are a few pointers for working with your educators to keep the germs at bay this winter:
- Washing hands: Kids under 5 love nothing more than putting hands into their mouth, the younger they are the more likely they are to be over-sharing. Routine is king. Get into the habit of washing hands when you arrive at childcare and then washing hands as you leave. My son has a habit of doing a 5 sec hand wash cause hand washing gets in the way of a busy day so getting them to sing a song or say a sentence gives them the amount of time they should take to give their hands a good wash. Thorough drying should also be part of the routine. Your educators play an important role in encouraging this routine and washing their own hands frequently.
- Exclusion of Sick Children and Staff: Childcare centres and family daycare have pretty clear guidelines on unwell children. Educators try to accommodate working parents but some parents just take them for a ride. The National Health and Medical Research Council has guidelines about the amount of time a child should be off with certain illnesses.
- Beware the secondary infection: I’m not sure whether it was just our first year of care but it seemed like we went through months on end of back to back infections. I remember once going to the doctors practically begging her to prescribe something to just stop the colds. She suggested actually taking time off to recover rather than waiting for us all to be 70% and getting back to it. This is pretty tricky when you have a job with a certain amount of annual leave. Creating a larger network that can help you out on emergency days is a great idea.
- Keeping life simple: “Ha”, I hear you say, “I am a parent”. Yes, it’s true if you are working or studying and raising a young family it is often difficult to keep life ‘simple’ but maybe it’s not just the weekdays also the weekends. Sleep and rest is so important to those little growing bodies so see how busy your weekends are and when you are not 100% dull that FOMA (Fear of Missing Out) and give yourself and your family a weekend in.