Back to School…Back to Germs! Keeping your kids healthy When Going Back to School!
Updated: August 19, 2019
One of the most common questions I get asked when people hear I am taking nutrition courses is “how do I keep my kiddo healthy at school?”. I kind of chuckle to myself and tell them that the question they asked me is one of the two main reasons I decided to get a certification in nutritional health and coaching. So I wanted to share the things in our household I feel have really helped make an impact. Remember, I am NOT a doctor and this is NOT medical advice 🙂
The first half year of preschool for my son was ROUGH. I mean to the point I considered withdrawing him and just keeping him in a bubble. The sleepless nights, feeling like the worst parent ever for not being able to comfort my child when he felt so puny..it was just hard. Long story short, we went to the doctor so much for his “preschool colds” that a pulmonologist told us he was “pre-asthmatic”. Meaning he was too young to be declared asthmatic, but he was well on his way if he didn’t “outgrow” all these symptoms by the time he was 5. 5??!! I almost fell over when the doc told us that. One week later, before Christmas, he caught RSV. A healthy lung kid has a hard time with that virus, imagine one dubbed with “weak lungs”. It was a nightmare…I won’t even go into further detail than that. No way could I go on 3 more years of back and forth like this. So I came home, I googled, I googled some more…and I spent my sleepless nights researching everything I could on the presence of continuous colds in toddlers and young children. Needless to say, through my trials and errors, many of which were force tried on my husband before then trying on Lucas, I feel like we finally got a good grasp on preventative health and not just reactive health. So I wanted to share some of my daily routines of what we do here in our household. Let me start by saying this: There isn’t one magic vitamin or pill to keep anyone from getting sick. In my opinion, the way to do so means turning health consciousness into a lifestyle. Your way of thinking, doing, and planning changes. You have to look at health as the big picture, from a 5,000 foot view rather than getting into the weeds of it all and only seeing one option or a one-size fits all easy way. Your family’s health is all around you, in everything you do.
So what do we do here in our household? Here’s a breakdown with explanations below.
- The School supply list
- Healthy, rainbow colored diet.
- Elderberry syrup daily, not just during flu season
- Use of quality microfiber cloths (not talking just that one company here)
- Hand washing routine after school
- Parents digital routine at night
- Lice Preventative Spray
Wow so 7 things! It seems like a lot, but really it isn’t, so let’s discuss!
- The School Supply List– yep, you read that right. The last 2 years, it has become my first action towards trying to keep my kiddo (and others) germ free. Most preschool or elementary teachers ask for Clorox cleaning wipes on their school supply list. While I don’t use them in my home (because of other stuff I discuss later), I get the appeal, I used them for years before I realized I wasn’t using them correctly. Have you ever actually read the back of those things?? You must keep the surface wet for 4 minutes for it to kill the 99.9% of bacteria it claims to. I tested this once, and wiped and area with one cloth and tested how long it took to dry (a door knob)…..45 seconds. So that means about every 30 seconds for 4 minutes I would have to reapply the cloth in order to effectively kill 99.9% of bacteria. Also, it does not kill Norovirus, aka the dreaded stomach bug/flu. After my child’s first round of that at 2 years old, and quarantining my husband so he wouldn’t get it ( I soon realized it was a total lost cause when he did) out came the internet and down the rabbit hole I went. I found what’s called Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide cleaner, both in wipes and spray. You can’t buy it in stores, but you can from Amazon ( I also keep stock so just call me!). So I did, and with my canisters and spray laying around it’s the first thing I drop off on my Momma friends doorsteps when I get that “my kids puking” text. What’s so great about it? It only has to sit for 30 seconds in order to kill most viruses and bacteria. The exceptions being: MRSA and Staph (4 minutes) and TB (4 minutes) and Norovirus and Rotavirus (1 minute). Most of the teachers have never seen or heard of this, so I explain and then basically tell them I will provide it for the year if they use it. When I talk about cleaning our cell phone cases below, this is what I use. I also use it on toys, or anything else that I can rinse off.
The second school supply list item is Zoono. I get it from www.zoonousa.com Use code EL15 for 15% off your entire order!!!
Unlike regular alcohol based sanitizers, this uses nano technology to create a thin film of protection on your hands. Think of it like a thin glove with thousands of tiny little spears that penetrate the outer layer of germs and kill them. What’s best about this stuff? Testing has shown that it will kill norovirus. No other hand sanitizer can do that. On a side note, testing is being done on creating commercial kitchen equipment that has this nano tech embedded in order to reduce the risk and spread of salmonella and e coli. I found that super interesting!
I started using this specifically because of their reporting on norovirus. I don’t use this daily. I know there are concerns with nano tech in cosmetics, however after emailing the company back and forth, according to them, their formula does not pass the skin barrier via absorption or into the bloodstream, it simply lays on top of the skin until the skin sheds off or it is eventually washed off. This does not take the place of hand washing! You wash your hands like normal, and they say it wears off after a dozen or so handwashes during the day. So I save this for school days, and any days where we may be going somewhere particularly germy, specifically Chic fil a play place, grocery store, etc! I ask my husband to keep some in his car and use it during flu season when he has meetings outside his office, or if anyone in his office becomes sick. I usually use it before going to the grocery store, or Target. I also started using it any time I go to a doctors office, or if I take Lucas to his doctor for a well check.
2. Diet– You have heard it time and time again….”eat your vegetables”. Well, its true. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and proteins/fats (by all means eat those good grass fed/finished meats!) will truly help you and your child fight off infections. You will be hitting your daily intake of essential and nonessential vitamins and amino acids and your body will be utilizing them more efficiently than the lab made vitamins you are popping. (kuddos to those taking whole foods vitamins!) I really feel that the reason we are all so much healthier in the summer is because such an abundance of fruit and veggies are readily available, affordable and delicious. Try to carry that way of eating into the fall and winter months! Soups in the winter are a great way to do this, because kids drink the liquid part (so no nutrition is lost) and all kids like to dip, so make them a grilled cheese to go with it! If you ever need help figuring out food choices for you or your family, don’t hesitate to send me an email! Or join our facebook group and ask away!
3.Elderberry Syrup– After last year’s flu season, there isn’t a Mom around that hasn’t heard of this. Some say its folk tale and refuse to use it. While Elderberry syrup has its roots in herbal medicine, it also has the scientific research to back it up. It is loaded up with Vitamins A, B, and C, as well as iron, potassium, phosphorus, copper, fiber, protein and antioxidants. Elderberry syrup got its headlining start in Panama in 1995 when it was used to treat an influenza outbreak. Since then, it has been studied in small randomized studies, all with promising results. One study found it helped reduce cold symptoms of airline passengers faster than placebo groups.1 Another study found it reduced influenza A and B symptoms by 4 days versus placebo group.2 It is a very promising anti-viral and anti-bacterial herb.
But wait! That’s not all! Here, we don’t just use elderberry syrup to ward off colds and flus. This is a short list to highlight some of the elderberry’s benefits. Find them all here. Helps with: digestion, constipation, reduces blood pressure, reduces LDL, expectorant for phlegm (great for bronchitis or asthma), protects against effects of autoimmune disorders, helps regulate blood sugar, promotes bone strength and lessens joint pain.
Want to order some? Check out Erin’s Elderberries!
Elderberry syrup can be bought over the counter, and last year it was in high demand and often people were unable to find it. I recommend stocking up before the season hits, or you can also make your own. If you do choose to buy, look for an organic brand with no high fructose corn syrup or coloring. Making the syrup is your best bet. It is super cheap compared to buying it! You can get about 100 servings of homemade for the cost of 10 servings in a store bought brand. For something your entire family should take daily (more so when you are sick), that’s a huge savings!
Taking elderberry syrup-(note I am not a doctor, just explaining how I do things!). We take it daily, everyone in our home. When someone is running a fever or feels a little lousy, that dosage goes to the single dosage amount every single hour until that person feels better. We had to spend an entire month at my parents house over the summer and Lucas came down with 2 101 degree fevers during that time. None of which lasted more than 8 hours because I never travel without the means to make syrup!
The final advantage to making your own syrup is the added health benefits. You know exactly whats going in it, it isn’t over processed, and you can add other beneficial ingredients like ginger, echinacea and cloves. AND the honey…oh the honey…well that will give you even more added protection and health benefits, not just immediately, but months down the road as well! We have all heard about the anti-bacterial and anti-viral benefits of raw local honey, as well as the allergy benefits. I have done a lot of digging into this as well (apparently all I do is research and find answers to questions!), because some doctors claim its all hodge-podge while others totally believe in it.
During my research I found that for honey to be the most effective for allergies, it must be started 3-4 months PRIOR to the season. For spring time allergies, that means starting your honey at C hristmas or the new year, NOT when the allergy symptoms arise. People have reported having lesser suffering issues if they wait until they get symptoms, but if you start prepping your body before hand, you may have little to no allergy symptoms. I didn’t come across all of this research until around April of this year. And then I realized…Oh! I’ve been giving Lucas elderberry syrup with local honey since before Christmas! And guess what…NO ONE in this house suffered from allergies this spring/summer (we will see how fall goes). Lucas was always the worst…he took Zyrtec in the am AND Benadryl at night for his allergies, along with a rescue inhaler. Not one bottle of either has been bought since we started using my Elderberry syrup , and when we went back to his pulmonologist, he cleared him of any “pre-asthmatic” symptoms. We haven’t had to go back to see him since.
4. Quality microfiber cloths– Okay, I am sure you are thinking “what the heck is this girl about to try and get me to buy?”. Nothing. A good friend of mine approached me many years ago about (specifically) “that expensive brand” cleaning cloths, because she knew we were as toxic chemical free in our home as we could be. Of course since I had never heard of this, I went home to research it, wondering what kind of money Id be spending at this “tupperware” like party of hers. I found the concept very interesting, but of course my inquisitive brain knew that this wasn’t or couldn’t be a new thing, or invention, so where did it come from? How did this start? Long story short…it let me to cleaning with microfiber cloths in my home on a daily basis, just not with Norwex. A quick explanation because I am planning on doing a post dedicated to just this subject.
Good quality microfiber cloths (like Norwex) are woven at 1/200th the size of the human hair. If you look at it under a microscope, it looks like a little hook instead of a loop weave. This “hook” is what grabs dirt, grim and germs into the cloth instead of swishing them all about on your surfaces, and the size of the hook (1/200th of a hair) allows it to pick up particles as small as 0.33 microns. What does that mean…well, the flu virus is a little over 0.4 microns (some websites report .5), so technically (again, not a doc just sharing info I have found via personal research), that means if the flu virus is sitting on your counter and you clean it with a microfiber cloth woven at 1/200th , you are removing that germ. Now, I am NOT knocking Norwex. I love them, I have several of their cloths. However, I do have way more of the brand eCloth. Why? They are woven at the same size, and significantly cheaper. What’s the catch? Ecloth does not have the silver interwoven into the cloth. What does this mean? Nothing really. The silver is woven in so that you can take longer in between washings, as it provides an internal way to kill off the bacteria over time while the rag sits. It does NOT kill the germs on contact. I pretty much use a rag a day and throw it in the wash pile, because I don’t want to risk contamination, but in places where water is scarce, this would be a good option.
So what do I do with these? I clean everything with them. At night, after everyone is in bed, I take a damp cloth and I wipe down the door knobs, and anything else I feel might be compromised from the day. When its cleaning time, I clean the whole house with them. I figure wherever those germs lurk, hopefully that cloth will find them! I also keep little ones in my truck, so if Lucas or I get particularly gross, or we can’t wash our hands, I can wipe us down knowing most of the germs are being wiped off. Click here to shop! Their shipping is super fast!!
5. Hand Washing Routine– Like our diets, we’ve all heard this too! Wash your hands! Well, during school and especially flu season, I take this seriously! I actually put a sign on the outside of our door to our garage to remind everyone to wash their hands as soon as they walk in! No one does anything until they do. Luckily we have a half bath right at the entrance from our garage, so it makes it very seamless. At school, I take Lucas to the bathroom and we both wash our hands before we leave. Granted he somehow crawls on the floor or touches everything on the way out, but I at least tried (plus he’s got his Zoono on, so that helps!)! Plus it gets him in a routine and he doesn’t fight me on washing his hands in the house. This is a simple chore, but so many of us just don’t do it more during the worst parts of the year.
6. Parent’s Digital Routine at Night– This goes along with my nightly door knob cleaning(dont wan’t to take the time to do this? Join my Facebook group and learn a trick I have found!!) I take mine and my husbands cell phone cases off and sanitize them. I throw them, along with anything else that needs to be sanitized from the day (a toy he took t out of the house during flu season), into the sink, and spray with the aforementioned clorox spray. I go do some other random chore then come back, rinse off and go. I usually only do this nightly starting in late October until flu season is over. When flu season isn’t as rampant, I will switch to every other day or every couple of days depending on where we have been. We pick up so many germs via our phones, depending on where we lay them down, what we touch and then touch the phone, etc. And you know your little one is grabbing at it all the time!
7. Preventative Spray– So while lice won’t physically make you ill, the last thing any Mom wants is finding those little suckers in your kids hair! Like we don’t have enough to clean besides basically cloroxing our house from the roof down. No one has time for that! So I make a homemade spray from all organic essential oils. During school season I have 2 bottles…one I keep at home and one I keep in my purse. Because there are days I leave with him in tow and I have forgotten to do everything (sunscreen, bug spray, etc) So I keep a little pouch of all of these in my purse for those just in case days. Lord knows the one day I forget to spray him will be the one day he comes home with it!
So does this sound like I am a hypochondriac? Ha! I can assure you I am not, but what I am is a very careful Momma who wants to give her kid every opportunity to not be sick and enjoy his tiny little life! I am probably the first Mom that would tell my kid to go play in a mud puddle, not complain if he eats dirt (I mean cause he did and I actually called Poison Control one time because I didn’t know if potting soil from Lowes was ok to eat lol!), or has to come back from the park wearing only his diaper. Update: He’s potty trained now, so we usually ride home naked or with the spare underwear I keep in the truck lol!
This is just our daily routine, and what I have learned through school, as well as a ton of my own research and testing in our home. Germs are good for us, they live in us and on us and also protect us. What I try to keep away is the bad germs, the ones that want my kiddo not to be a Tiny Healthy Human.
Happy New School Year Everyone. May it be your best and healthiest yet!
In good health,
Some Links contained herein are affiliate links where I do make a small commission from sales. Please note I do not talk about these products because I am an affiliate, rather I am an affiliate after years of using these products and wanted to help spread the word!! These are all my own opinions and may not reflect those of the company. This blog is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure diseases. Please always consult your doctor for anything and everything! Thank you!