FeverThe “uckies” are what my kids used to call it when they’d get a cold or minor flu. They weren’t in bed with a fever, but just felt “uckie.”

I’m not a hyperprotective parent with a disinfectant wipe dispenser on my belt. By the time our second child arrived, I was one of those parents who would pick up the pacifier, pop it in my mouth, then hand it back to my child.

But germs are no laughing matter. Once they hit your home, they can sweep through the rest of the family like a zombie virus in a bad sci-fi movie. Many times, our beautiful children pick up those nasty germs at daycare or school then toddle through our home like an off-balance typhoid Mary. So here are some tips for at least reducing your risk of sickness in your house this winter.

  • Get a Flu Shot. It’s not too late! We do not have anymore flu shots left, but your pediatrician certainly take care of it for you. Even if you made it through November without the flu, you’re not home free. Experts believe this myth developed from the fact that supplies of seasonal influenza vaccine often do run out by November. But not for everyone, so ask your pediatrician. Because influenza cases don’t hit their peak until February or sometimes as late as March. So, get everyone in the family vaccinated, even if it’s to protect your youngsters from getting the flu from you. Read our blog on flu myths.
  • Wash Those Hands. Hand-washing is important always, but definitely during cold and flu season. My kids used to wash their hands to a tune so they knew they had washed long enough. (From time to time, I still catch my teenager humming as she washes her hands.) A friend of ours swears by the Lysol® No-Touch Automatic Hand Soap Dispenser because her kids think its fun, they use it more often and it helps reduce soap all over the counters.
  • Keep your surfaces clean. Invest in some disinfectant wipes or just some Lysol® and a rag. Try to keep the surfaces disinfected. Not just countertops and tables, but also toys, doorknobs, light switches, electronics and toilet handles—those places where germs can easily spread from person to person. Wipe them down. And Lysol®…I will expect royalties if you all introduce a belt-mounted disinfectant wipe dispenser.
  • When sickness comes. Once one person comes down with the “uckies”, it cuts through your household like wildfire, especially with little ones. Symptoms may not show immediately, so take precautions like avoiding sharing cups, keep those hand towels fresh or consider disposable paper cups and towels during an illness. Change out those toothbrushes. Wash the sheets in the house regularly as well as special blankets or stuffed animals.
  • Eat healthy. Try to keep immune systems strong by including vitamin rich fruits and vegetables in your kids’ snacks. If you’re lucky enough that your kids like vegetables, introduce them to protein-rich hummus dip. Fruit with yogurt dip, fruit smoothies and berry parfaits can be popular with kids. See some recipes here. If your kids are like mine and turn their nose up to vegetables, keep trying. I was shocked recently when they started asking for edamame.

But don’t make healthy meals hard on you, especially if you’re sick. These don’t have to be complicated. Break out your slow cooker. When it comes to finding vegetables in their food, my kids can dissect a meal like a highly trained pathologist, so soups and stews are often not well received. However, there are some great kid-approved slow cooker recipes. Or some additional healthy recipes your kids can sometimes help you make.


Please share some of the ways your family stays healthy in the winter in the comments section below.