Tis the season for mistletoe, hot chocolate, and of course, sniffles and sneezes. Over the past week, all three of my kids, from my 9-year-old down to my 2-year-old, have suffered through a miserable cold that resulted in 103 degree fevers, hacking coughs, and sore throats. It’s the first time all three have been sick at the same time, and it threw us all for a loop, leading to several missed days of school and lost work productivity. Luckily for me, so far I’m in the clear, but this last bout of illness has me ready to stock up on a gallon-size jug of hand sanitizer and lock us all in the house to hibernate till spring of 2015.
But this isn’t my first cold and flu season rodeo, and over the years I’ve learned that it’s more beneficial to keep my wits about me, stay calm, and practice a little due-diligence rather than resort to becoming hermits. So we’ll continue to wash our hands religiously, remind baby that we don’t eat things off the floor (at least outside the home), eat as healthfully as we can, and frolic with our friends and family till the thermometer tells us not to. Beyond the usual do’s and don’ts of surviving cold and flu season, I’d like to bring up another set of do’s and don’ts when it comes to handling sticky situations with fellow parents and family members. These general guidelines will avoid hurt feelings and arguments and leave everyone’s friendships still intact come springtime. They involve not overreacting, choosing words wisely, and being open and honest. The following are five tips for making it through cold and flu season in a calm and peaceful way.
1. Avoid heated debates or offering unsolicited advice to fellow parents regarding the flu shot.
2. Resist the urge to preach the essential oils gospel to every human you come into contact with.
I’m still new to essential oils myself and do believe in their efficacy for certain things, but I still cringe a little when I hear friends make outlandish claims on their magical cure-all abilities. Know your audience, and remember that some moms get defensive when it’s suggested they could do better than the current route they’re taking.
3. If you have a new baby, firstly congratulations! Secondly, give others the benefit of the doubt instead of giving them the side-eye if they get too close to your babe.
Sometimes people forget what it’s like to have a new baby and just need a gentle suggestion to wash their hands if they wish to hold your little one, or at least use some hand sanitizer. With small children, reminders to just touch baby’s toes are more effective, and a little kinder, than barring tiny visitors all together. After our first baby was born, I still remember the fight and hurt feelings that resulted from me telling my sister to leave my 1-year-old nephew at home when she came to bring me a home-cooked meal. Don’t make the same mistake I made.
4. If your child has recently been ill and you’re hosting a playdate, give the other moms a little heads-up and let them decide how comfortable they are with the kids being around each other.
Usually most parents know that some symptoms, like coughs, can sometimes last for weeks, way past the point of contagiousness, therefore kids can still safely play together post-illness. But many moms will at least appreciate the thoughtfulness of a heads up. If your child suddenly comes down with cold or flu symptoms after your playdate, a follow-up text or email alerting all that your child has fallen ill is also a thoughtful gesture, allowing the other parents to watch for illness and act as soon as possible.
5. Subsequently, resist bringing your child to preschool with obvious and visible signs of illness, like fever and a slimy green runny nose.
In environments like preschool, kids are constantly touching everything and some are still putting things, or at minimum their hands, in their mouth. Germs get around, and when a child is coughing and sneezing everywhere, there’s a higher risk of contamination. Sure, most kids still get sick no matter how many precautions we take, but for some kids with compromised immune systems, even the most mild of common colds can put them in harm’s way. It always stinks to have to use a sick day for an ill child, but if every parent exercised the same thoughtfulness, there’d likely be a lot less contagious bugs running through schools.
How do you all handle mixing germs with friends and family? Do you have a more carefree mindset and figure as long as it’s just the sniffles, no big deal? Or do you maintain fastidious rules about mixing colds and play dates? How have your views on mixing and mingling with friends during this season affected friendships?More On