Last week I disappeared for a bit while the Bubonic Plague – or maybe a stomach virus – moved slowly from one member of my family to the other. Like the good and loving mother that I am, I sat by my daughter’s side while she got sick over and over again all night Sunday. I fully expected my son to be sick by the following night, but hoped with all the hope a tired mommy could muster that none of the adults would come down with this horrid disease. When Monday came and went without event and then Tuesday, I began to let my guard down. Clearly the frequent hand-washing and disinfectant wipe usage had paid off and we were all in the clear.
Then Wednesday evening came around and my husband got sick.
I understand that the vows I spoke on my wedding day included for better or for worse, but with my community manager at the hospital with her very ill child, my work schedule still recovering from my daughter’s two days off of school, and my son looking like at any moment he could be next, the last thing I intended to do was come down with this pestilence while caring for a grown man. With various forms of virus killer in hand, I cast my husband off to the guest room and battened the hatches.
Twenty-four hours later I was sick.
So how does one keep from getting an illness that has already entered their home through a family member who we will lovingly refer to as the “carrier monkey?” Here are some steps to avoid getting sick:
1. Wash your hands – While the importance of hand washing goes without saying, beware of your technique. The type of soap that you are using matters far less than how thoroughly you wash and for how long. Be sure that you are washing your hands for at least twenty seconds, and be sure to monitor that your children are following this rule as well.
2. Don’t share food and drinks – Again, this seems so obvious, and yet how many times in a single day do you allow a child a sip out of your drink, a taste of your food, or even encourage the children to share with one another in this way?
3. Get enough sleep and eat well – The body is most susceptible to illness when it is not being properly taken care of with a healthy diet and good sleep. This explains the ridiculous number of sinus infections I suffered through during mid-terms and finals in college and is also motivation to get your z’s!
4. Clean heavily trafficked surfaces – When my poor, ailing husband became ill, I stormed through the house like a little cleaning tornado, wiping doorknobs, faucets, soap dispensers – anything I thought he might have touched. But I also thought about that place on the door where he pushes the door closed, the banister going up and down the stairs, the refrigerator handle. Be sure to disinfect areas throughout your home that are frequently touched.
5. Get some space – As hard as it is when a loved one is sick, try to maintain some space. If you’ve got a little one who crawls in bed with you at night, be sure to draw the line with a goodnight hug then go your separate ways. If your children share a room, find a place for the healthy child to sleep until the bug passes.