I have always been a fan of "Back to School" time - both as a kid and as a mom. It was always like a new beginning. New teachers, new classes, new outfits, new school supplies, new opportunities to get sick......wait, what?? Yep, the beginning of a new school year means that the dreaded Cold & Flu season are just around the corner.
Here are some reminders of things you Green Moms and your kids can do to arm themselves:
1. Get plenty of rest. This should be a no brainer, especially during the school year. But sometimes kids can get over scheduled and over extended and really aren't getting the rest that their developing bodies require. When bodies (and minds) aren't able to recharge properly, they become vulnerable, especially to germs!
2. Drink plenty of fluids. Don't let your kids wait until they're sick before you start this practice. Keeping hydrated is an essential part of staying healthy. And stay away from sugary drinks that are loaded with chemicals. Even though my youngest just became a teenager, I make him steer clear of "energy" drinks or "sports" drinks. Instead, he drinks water (always our first choice), organic juices, and fat free milk. Although I did find an excellent drink that rivals the "sports" drinks on the market with the amount of electrolytes it contains, but without the chemicals and sugar. Better yet, it comes in packets so my son can just empty one into his reusable water bottle. That's important to a Green Mom!
3. Eat right. This should be a no brainer, but developing bodies require healthy nutrition, not empty calories. Keep plenty of cut up vegetables in the fridge with a healthy, homemade dip or hummus. If you have fruit out where your children can see it, they're more likely to reach for it when they're hungry. Have regular meal times and cook sensible meals (easily done even on a budget). Organic is always the best way to go, but if you can't do that, wash and rinse the fruits and vegetables as best you can to remove pesticides and other inorganic matter.
4. Wash hands. A LOT!! Kids are especially tactile and they come in contact with thousands (maybe even millions) of germs on a regular basis. Keep a liquid soap next to each bathroom sink and next to the kitchen sink. We use a natural and safe soap that is very concentrated and doesn't dry out our hands (and it smells like mint!). Hands should be washed after bathroom visits, after coughing or sneezing, after dealing with pets, before touching food, and as soon as coming in from outside. Teach your kids this practice EARLY so that it becomes a habit!
5. Use a tissue whenever possible! When I taught school, I always taught my students to cough or sneeze into the insides of their elbows. Many of the kids thought I was crazy, but it became a game of sorts and usually, a month or two into the school year, the kids were experts. If possible, a tissue is usually the way to go, but in a pinch, the inside of the elbow works great!
6. Vitamins. Back in 2002, the Journal of the American Medical Association, along with the Department of Agriculture said that everybody over the age of 18 months old should be taking a good multivitamin and mineral supplement. We are just not getting the nutrition that we should be from our foods. Do your homework on this one. Some children's vitamins are no better than taking M & M candies. We found a great one with no artificial colors or sweeteners and it has worked really well.
7. Disinfect. It's important to kill germs left behind on surfaces like door knobs, the refrigerator door handle, light switches, phones, TV or game remotes, even keys. But remember, not all disinfectants are created equal. Most of the disinfecting sprays and wipes on the market today are quite toxic and can damage the respiratory and central nervous systems, especially those of kids. Find one that uses natural ingredients, but is proven to kill germs.
Keeping healthy during Cold & Flu season is really just a matter of common sense. By following these basic examples, your kids will sail through the season with less missed school days and less trips to the pediatrician's office. And that's something we can ALL cheer about!!
If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them! Hope you and your kids have a Clean, Lean and Green season!!