A PracticalDad Primer to Germ Control

Having a sick child is a difficult experience, but things can really augur into the ground if the sickness is passed amongst the family and one child to another.  Effective germ control is an imperative to at least give you a fighting chance in the sick period.

Almost every parent with whom I’ve spoken over the years acknowledges that their child tended to get more cold and viruses after they entered an environment with other children.  Any classroom or daycare facility will facilitate more disease spread and only the most rigorous handwashing regimen there can combat it.  And let’s face it, kids don’t want to waste their valuable play time washing their hands.  And once they get something, it’s going to come home and become your problem.

So how can you at least maintain some control in your house and mitigate the spread of germs amongst the family?  You can try some of these ideas but be ready to have to adhere to things rigorously.  And guys aren’t known for being rigorous about hygiene.

  • Wash your hands rigorously – both in terms of time spent washing and the number of times you wash.  Antibacterial soap is ideal but any soap will work if done properly.  This means for about 20 seconds of solid lathering and rubbing, including between all the fingers and up to the wrist.  In warm water.
  • Keep some hand lotion available since your hands will probably crack and dry from all of the washing.  This PracticalDad prefers something with aloe to help the skin.
  • Monitor the children closely for clean hands and stay on them.  After using the toilet and before any meal or snack.  After you notice them wiping their nose or coughing in their hands.  Make them wash and if they can’t count to 20, then they can sing the Birthday song as a general guide for time spent.  I clocked my rendition at fifteen seconds, so they may want to go for two rounds of the Birthday song.  When the kids get sick, there isn’t much rest and you simply have to suck it up and watch them carefully.
  • Work to keep all utensils and plates/glasses from being shared.  If there’s a common bathroom cup – and frankly, there should never be one – give each child their own cup for use.  A disposable cup is best, since you can mark a particular child’s with a favorite sticker as an identifier for that child and that child only.
  • Stay on top of any and all surfaces and disinfect them frequently.  This PracticalDad will stock up on disposable disinfectant wipes and wander the house when able to wipe down common surfaces.  These surfaces can be bathroom and kitchen counters, doorknobs, bath and sink faucets, surfaces of remote controls and electronic devices, toilet seats and rims and the floors around the toilets, sink surfaces, appliance handles – particularly refrigerators. 
  • Commonly shared toys should be removed and later wiped down.
  • Sick children should be relegated to their rooms for as long as practicable, but this shouldn’t be to the point of their feeling as though they’re being punished.
  • Sick children should never be allowed to rifle the fridge or bread drawers for food.

Naturally, this means that you and Mom will have to ride herd on this process so fully expect that the regular daily stuff of life is going to take a hit due to lack of time and pure exhaustion.  This especially will get worse if there’s one or more vomiting and nothing brings more joy than a family pukefest.

One final note on germ control.  When you do use any cleaner or disinfectant wipes,  be sure to keep them out of the way of your children.  Small children are used to being cleaned by baby wipes and a non-reader could get hurt if trying to wipe themselves with a disinfectant wipe.

For further information, check out the Centers for Disease Control site at www.cdc.gov/germstopper/home_work_school.htm



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