I’ve been sick three times since school started. In fact, some of my students have been sick three times since school started. It goes without saying that school is a place where germs are shared just as much as ideas. My first child didn’t even get sick until she was 3 years old and went to school for the first time. My second child had his first cold at 6 months of age which (naturally) he caught from his school-aged sister.
As a teacher, I just take it in stride that I will have germs all around me at all times. It’s enough to make anyone show a few signs of hypochondria (if you see me maniacally spraying my classroom with Lysol twice daily, understand why). Nevertheless, there are always ways where we can improve.
The following list is by no means exhaustive, but outlines some things you may be slacking on that can help eliminate germs being carried by your children.
1. Washing Your Child’s Backpack
One thing I try to do biweekly at least is wash my children’s lunch boxes. It’s super easy to remember to do this since chances are you see the lunch box way more often. An often overlooked article, however, is your child’s backpack. This vessel can be a surefire conduit for germs to and from school. It’s also pretty cringeworthy when you start thinking of your child coming home and slinging their backpack onto their bed. I guarantee you that the backpack spends most of its day being schlepped across the floor at school, so add washing it to your weekly or biweekly list of chores.
2. Not Wearing Outside Clothes Inside
It is a cultural thing in the West Indies to have “home clothes” and “out clothes”. For anyone reading this who is not privy to the concept, this basically means that when you come home from “out”, you change into your clothing that you wear at home. Usually, these articles of clothing aren’t worn out of your yard. In fact, I ran to the store in my “home clothes” the other day and recounted the event to a friend as a disdainful occurrence.
When your child gets home from school, don’t let them lounge around in their school clothing. These articles of clothing can have all sorts of germs from the day on them. It’s better to encourage your child to take a quick shower and change into clothing that hasn’t been around a whole bunch of other children.
3. Modeling Positive Hygiene
Children learn from example. This cliché has deep roots in the soil of parental modelling. If your children see you washing your hands when you come home from being out and about, chances are they will be more likely to actually do it as well. I know what you’re thinking– I brush my teeth, but I still have to remind my children to brush theirs. Make hand washing a routine just like you do other hygienic practices and you can rest safer knowing that your child will maintain the habit when you aren’t around.
4. Disinfecting Devices
It’s all fine and good to have your children wash their hands, but what about the things they touch the most? When your child spends a significant amount of time on a device, there can be germs that just get retransferred. Wipe down phones, tablets, laptops and video game controllers with disinfectant wipes, or make it a habit to spray them with Lysol. Educate your child on why this is important and get them to see the benefits of having germ-free electronics.
5. Changing Your Child’s Toothbrush
We all know that toothbrushes should be changed at least every couple months, but I know that life can become so hectic that one of the last things you remember is to change your family’s toothbrushes. One even more overlooked germ-prevention method is to change your child’s toothbrush after they have been sick. This can help from retransmitting the same germs you have been trying to get rid of.
Again, I’m not a health expert, but I am a teacher which means I see your children’s exposure to germs. I hope that this short list has inspired you to pick up some Lysol and toothbrushes on your way home today. Whether or not we have Covid-19 to contend with, we always have the common cold and flu. It can help a lot if we maintain this same hygienic energy to combat these germs as well.