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Cold and Flu season is brutal! It always sneaks up on us and suddenly our precious little baby or kid who finally started sleeping through the night or eating their vegetables becomes irritable and cranky. We feel horrible for them and us because it’s the start of a very rough few weeks for everyone involved! While there’s no way to ensure that you or your kids won’t get sick at all, I’ve compiled the top 15 ways that we can minimize our chances of getting sick plus a few extra tips for how to make the season a bit more comfortable. If all else fails, remember… spring is around the corner!
One more thing before we get to the list… Please keep in mind that these tips are based on my experiences as a fellow mom! It’s not meant to be medical advice so please contact a doctor if you have any concerns or want to verify something. Okay…. on to the list!
1. Wash Your Hands Often
This is #1 for a good reason! It really is the number one way to minimize your chances of getting sick. As an adult, you come into contact with a lot of germs all the time – whether you’re greeting a friend with a hug or handshake or you’re picking something out at a grocery store. Think about how many people with germ covered hands have touched the same thing as you only seconds before! Kids will touch toys and others kids and maybe even (okay, likely) put toys in their mouths! While some germs can only be spread through coughing or sneezing, plenty of germs can be passed through objects and touch. I don’t mean for you to become a “germaphobe” but now is the time to up your hand washing game!
TIP: Opt for a soap that will be gentle on your hands. Look for words like “moisturizing” or “gentle”. I like castille soaps because I know that they won’t contain harsh detergents that will dry out my hands which could then make them crack in the winter… not a good thing. So be picky about your soaps!
TIP: Avoid anti-bacterial soaps! In most cases, just washing with a gentle soap is good enough. I’ve read articles claiming that anti-bacterial soaps are bad for us in the long run so I prefer to be safe than sorry!
TIP: Take your kids to the store to pick out a soap or two… or better yet, make soaps with them at home! If your kids love their soap, they may even ASK to wash their hands! Making your own soap is so much fun and so easy. Just buy a block of “melt and pour” soap from almost any craft store (some will even carry organic ones!), pick something heat-resistant as a mold, and get started! You can put toys inside the soap for a fun prize, add cinnamon or cocoa powder to make them smell nice etc. So easy and so much fun!
2. Use Hand Sanitizer
Since washing your hands after every single handshake isn’t an option, hand sanitizer can be a huge help this time of the year! Make sure to keep it handy and always keep it close so that you can make regular use of it! I like to keep one in my pursue, in my coat pocket, the car, the playroom, etc. That way whenever I suspect that my kids, husband, or I have come in contact with cold or flu germs we can quickly use it! Plus by having small bottles so accessible, I can often be discrete about using it if needed (like at work).
TIP: Look for brands that make gentle hand sanitizers! There’s even a brand that makes a hand sanitizer and lotion in one! SCORE!
TIP: When your little travel size bottles run out, just refill them with the jumbo bottle you’re going to buy (riiiight??) and save a few extra $$!
3. Clean more often
You may be seeing a pattern here…. My next tip is to clean more often! Clean your door knobs, sink knobs, phone, keyboard, toys, teddy bears etc. … more often. If items are washable… wash them! If they’re not, spray them with a reliable germ fighter! If they go in the washing machine, well… do that! Just make a habit of routinely washing your stuff much more often so that you can minimize the spread of germs.
TIP: Don’t forget to wash your hat, gloves, and scarves often! Imagine what they’ve touched! Especially since chances are that your kids routinely drop them EVERYWHERE!
TIP: Stock up on (or make) disinfecting wipes! Normally I’m too frugal to buy these but during the cold and flu season they are so convenient – especially if you leave multiple tubs around the house! Picture this… You’re in the bathroom asking your toddler if they are done pooping for the 20th time. Spoiler alert… no they’re not! While you wait and repeat yourself because it’s time for bed, you could be wiping down the door knobs, sink faucet and knobs etc!
TIP: This tip applies to makeup brushes, mirrors, and toothbrushes too! If you or your kids feel a tingle one day and then feel better a few days later, CHANGE THEIR TOOTHBRUSH! You’ve been breathing on your mirror as you apply eyeliner… it could probably use a wipe down…
4. Reduce Your Stress
It seems common knowledge that stress can make you sick, but why? I did some research and apparently it’s because of the “Let-Down Effect.” This phenomenon will actually boost your immune system while you’re stressed and then cause you to get sick once your stress goes away! It’s crazy! So why don’t we all try to de-stress a bit okay? (I know as a mom that’s hard but it might keep your house cold and flu free which is great, right?)
“During periods of stress, the body attempts to protect us by boosting the immune response and accelerating the rate of inflammation in the body. Once the stress is over, we typically take a break from the hectic pace and may want to spend more time relaxing or sleeping. After all, isn’t relaxation healthy? But when we de-stress too rapidly, it can lead to biochemical changes that actually result in a weakened immunity, leaving us vulnerable to illness or physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach disorders, panic attacks, and other pain reactions. When this occurs, we have experienced The Let Down Effect. Our best chance for beating the Let Down Effect is to relax in a way that keeps the immune system on alert.”
TIP: A few weeks before cold and flu season put a few toys and books out of sight. Then when you need a few minutes break to de-stress, take them out and offer them to your kids! If they are anything like mine, the toy will be like new again and you will get a few extra minutes of quiet to enjoy a nice hot cup of tea or coffee!
5. Eat Well
Eating well is always a good idea but it’s extra important when your body needs all the energy it can get to fight off colds! So make the extra effort to eat healthy balanced meals during the cold and flu season! I’m personally a fan of portion control or moderation over calorie counting so here’s my suggestion… Aim to eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and high protein foods. When eating fruits and vegetables look for lots of different colors (especially in the meat of the fruit, not the skin). Then let yourself and your family have small amounts of carb heavy foods and/or desserts! This should help you get the nutrients your family needs without feeling deprived! (Keep in mind, lots of fruits and even yogurts are high in carbohydrates and sugars which is why I find it best to limit carb-heavy foods like bread and pasta! Chances are you’ll get plenty of carbs without even trying!)
TIP: Soups and fruit crumbles (made with oats) are an amazing way to get your fruits and veggies in the winter!
TIP: Eat your veggies raw or steamed if you can to make sure you get the most out of them! (The nutrient composition of veggies can change depending on how they are prepared, so I use this as a rule of thumb!)
6. Eat Chicken Soup
For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard that chicken soup is good to eat when you have a cold. Whether it’s because it’s warm and tastes great, helps you to hydrate, or really has some magical powers, it seems that everyone has adopted this theory! So, I say why not try it! I have heard that there’s something in the bone marrow that gives chicken soup its special powers. I don’t know if that’s true or not and couldn’t find any proof but again… it sure makes for a great bowl of soup!
I did find some promising info while researching this though…
“Another study by Mount Sinai researchers in Miami also suggests that chicken soup has more than just a placebo effect. They looked at how chicken soup affected air flow and mucus in the noses of 15 volunteers who drank cold water, hot water or chicken soup. In general, the hot fluids helped increase the movement of nasal mucus, but chicken soup did a better job than the hot water, according to the 1978 report, also published in Chest. Chicken soup also improves the function of protective cilia, the tiny hairlike projections in the nose that prevent contagions from entering the body, according to a 1998 Coping With Allergies and Asthma report.”
7. Stay Hydrated
Most of us don’t drink our recommended amount of water each day to begin with. Personally, I have a really hard time getting to 8 cups of water each day but when I’m sick you can be sure that I try extra hard! Staying hydrated is key in the winter and especially if you’re trying to avoid, or are, sick.
TIP: Avoid dehydrating beverages like soda and coffee if you can. I consider these to be “negative” cups of water!
TIP: Have lots of yummy water-based option available for the kids to choose from! I like to fill pitchers with water and a splash of juice so that they have options to pick from that are especially good for them!
TIP: Drink from larger cups! I’ve been known to drink out of a large mason jar because it helped me get more fluids down!
8. Get Enough Rest
I’ve often heard that you need to get lots of sleep to have enough energy to fight off a cold. My parents always said that my immune system needed the energy so I had to rest. I’m not sure that it truly works that way, but it has been proven that there’s a link between sleep and your chances of getting sick! According to a study called “Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold”:
“Poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep duration in the weeks preceding exposure to a rhinovirus were associated with lower resistance to illness.”
TIP: Bedtime can be rough in most households with kids. I know it is in my house! My #1 tip for making sure that EVERYONE gets enough good sleep is to start the bedtime routine early and to make sure the environment (lights, sounds etc) is appropriate for bedtime. Good luck!
9. Get a Humidifier – A key to cold and flu season survival!
Dry skin, itchy dry throat, stuffy nose…. These are all typical of the cold and flu season! In fact, dry hands and nose are usually one of the first signs that the season is upon us for my family! That’s why we love to use humidifiers in the house. To be honest, we have a “whole house humidifier” plus additional humidifiers in our bedrooms that we turn on in the winter. My latest find is the Vicks Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier and I love it! That’s why I’ve partnered with them and am even going to be giving one away! (Scroll to the very bottom for the giveaway).
Thanks to the cool mist it instantly produces and the vapor pads (which adds menthol scent to the vapors for up to 8 hours), this compact humidifier does an amazing job of relieving congestion by adding moisture back into the air! It’s also easy to use, doesn’t have or need a filter, and holds enough water for up to 30 hours of use! It’s super convenient and had been an amazing addition to my son’s room.
Plus, even the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using cool mist humidifers like this one to relieve cold and flu symptoms!
TIP: Use the Protec Humidifier Cleansing Fish to reduce up to 99% of odor-causing bacteria in the water! Plus, your kids will love their “fish”!
TIP: Use a humidifier year-round in your baby’s room to help them breathe better and keep their skin soft but ALSO because it’s a great white noise machine!
Get your own Vicks Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier here or at most mass and online retailers!
Want to win won? See the giveaway at the end of this post!
10. Avoid Crowds
So many colds are spread by coughing and sneezing that it just makes good sense to avoid crowds where complete strangers could cough or sneeze on you, right? It’s especially important if you have a baby or you’re pregnant!
TIP: Shop online! (This is a great excuse actually…)
11. Use and Offer Tissues
If you happen to get a cold or the flu, it’s best to make sure that you cough or sneeze INTO a tissue so that you can avoid spreading it to your friends and family. It’s so hard to avoid the entire house getting sick once one person catches it, but this should at least give you a fighting chance!
See someone who is sick and not doing this? Maybe offer them a tissue! It will benefit you in the end!
TIP: Load up on the tissues! Actually… per #10, buy a bunch of boxes of tissues online and have them show up at your door. Then put them all over the house along with trash bags!
TIP: That brings me to trash bags… make sure you and your friends/family are disposing of tissues once they have used them! Don’t just carry them around or put them in your pocket (ick!).
12. Minimize Physical Contact
This may not be the best time of the year to be hugging your friends or shaking hands with everyone at the office. I try to avoid this as much as possible without being overly rude because let’s face it, as moms we have 24/7 jobs and just can’t take a real sick day! So I think we have permission to avoid physical contact for a few weeks…
13. Stand Your Ground
On a similar note, if a friend refuses to keep their distance while sick or a coworker comes into work sick and wants to sit right next to you, stand your ground! By that I mean, suggest that they take some time to get better OR if you need to, find somewhere else to be until they feel better. It’s not worth it when you consider the fact that you’ll get sick and then spread it to your kids! Oh, and you will need to take care of your sick kids while sick yourself! This applies to playdates and playgroups! If there are sick kids or parents there… avoid! avoid! avoid!
14. Be Careful When Taking Medication
I had a roommate once who would take multiple types of medication while sick and she never realized that she was doubling up on Acetaminophen! Some ingredients are common in medication and if you double up you could actually be overdosing! One way to avoid this is to ask a doctor for suggestions. If you’re in a bind though, please be sure to read all the ingredients and avoid doubling up!
Also, kids can often mistaken medication for candy. Especially if they taste good! So be especially careful with all medication to avoid having kids take something that they shouldn’t! Some kids (ahem!) can open child-safe caps!
15. Bundle Up
This probably doesn’t need to be said but it seems like a great way to end the list…. bundle up and make sure you baby and kids bundle up too! (Actually, make sure anyone who lives in your house bundles up!). Why is it that kids think it’s okay to walk outside in 10 degree weather with one glove and an open coat?
TIP: Plan for your morning routine to take about an extra ten minutes so that you can time to bundle everyone up in the morning before they head out the door! By mentally preparing yourself for this and leaving yourself the extra time, you’ll not only get it done, you’ll be less stressed by the task!
In partnership with Vick’s Humidifiers, I’m hosting a giveaway for:
1 – Vicks® Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier (MSRP: $79.99),
1 – Family Pack of Vicks VapoPads (MSRP: $14.99) and
1 – Protec Humidifier Cleaning Fish (MSRP: $10.99)
One lucky winner will receive all of these items!
The winner will be announced in my newsletter so please make sure to check it to see if you won! The winner will have 24 hours to accept the prize from when the newsletter is sent out. If the first winner does not confirm in that period, they forfeit the prize and a new winner will be selected and contacted directly.
(Note, you do not have to opt-in to the newsletter. If you choose to not opt-in, you will need to contact me within the 24 hours of when the giveaway closes (show in the widget) to see if you won and confirm the prize within 24 hours too if you won.)
Prize can only be shipped to a U.S. address. The giveaway widget will be used to select a random winner. Good luck!
If the widget doesn’t work properly for you, click here.
Okay so there you have it! These are my tips for avoiding the cold and flu this season! Did I miss any good ones? Comment below!
Have a baby and need some more baby specific tips? Check out this post!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Vicks Humidifiers. The opinions and text are all mine.