Keeping Yourself Healthy During Cold Season
Who has time for a cold? Sniffling, congestion, cough, runny nose: It’s annoying at best and takes you out of the mom routine for several days at worst. And since young kids use their mouths to explore everything, they’re also at risk of picking up cold germs. Learn how to keep everyone in the family healthier year-round with a plan for cold prevention.
Step Up Your Fruit and Veggie Game
It’s so tempting to reach for convenience foods, but a healthy, whole-food diet packed with fruits and veggies gives you more health bang for your buck. Think spinach, sweet potatoes, blueberries and other deeply colored produce when you’re looking to ramp up your family’s immunity.
If your little ones turn up their noses at the sight of veggies, get a little creative by sneaking them into their meals. Mix pureed sweet potatoes into pasta sauce, or hide the spinach in a smoothie full of blueberries and other dark berries.
Vitamin D is another helpful tool in the mission to boost immunity. For natural vitamin D, get as much sunshine as possible with your little ones. Eggs, milk and yogurt also increase your family’s vitamin D intake.
You hear about the benefits of exercise all the time. But those workouts do more than slim your waistline and tone your muscles. Regular exercise may help you fend off cold germs. Exercise is an immunity-booster, and it lowers your stress, which helps you fight colds even more.
Exercise isn’t just for the adults in the family. Keep the little ones active with regular walks, bike rides and active play. Not only will the exercise keep your kids healthier, but it also helps burn off energy to cut down on cabin fever in the colder months.
Get Your Rest
You can sleep when your kids go to college; right? It’s a philosophy many moms adopt, but it may not be the healthiest approach. Regular rest keeps your immune system stronger. If you get the sleep you need, your immune system is better equipped to fight the cold germs that you’re exposed to on a regular basis.
Your kids also need rest to keep their bodies strong. Get everyone into a solid bedtime routine. At the first sign of a cold, get comfy in bed and sleep as much as possible. That rest can give your immune system the edge it needs. You may not feel as if you have time to rest, but helping your body get better may shorten the cold so you’re back at it faster.
It’s simple advice, but it’s one of the most difficult things for parents to do. You may feel as if your life is just a series of stress-inducing situations. But stress can weaken your body’s immune response and make it easier for the cold to take over. Stress also increases your cortisol levels, which interferes with your immune system.
Work toward a more relaxing environment at home to keep everyone’s nerves calm. Try doing some yoga poses or kid-friendly relaxation techniques to lower stress levels. One simple option is to have your child close her eyes and breathe deeply. Have her pretend to inflate a balloon as she breathes. Another option is having her tense and relax one body part at a time.
Grab Your Cleaning Supplies
Cleaning isn’t usually on the list of ways you want to spend your time, but keeping germs out of your home as much as possible cuts down on the risk of your kids getting sick. Wipe down hard surfaces in busy areas like kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms. Doorknobs, light switches and other places that people touch frequently are a good place to start.
Practice Personal Hygiene
You may feel as if you’re always reminding your kids to wash their hands or sneeze into a tissue. But the reminders help your little ones cut down on spreading germs. Get in the habit of washing hands before every meal. It’s also a good idea to wash hands when you get home after spending time in public where you can pick up lots of germs. Keeping your child’s nails short eliminates another hiding place for germs.
Drinking lots of fluids can help keep you hydrated, and they can keep your mucus thin if you start getting a cold. The thin mucus is easier to get rid of, so you can breathe easier and feel more comfortable. Serve warm tea with honey if the symptoms include a cough or sore throat. Skip the honey for kids young than 12 months because of the risk of botulism.
The effectiveness of vitamin C in fighting colds is unclear, but it doesn’t hurt to add orange juice and other sources of vitamin C in your child’s diet. The vitamin may be beneficial if your child gets bombarded with germs on a daily basis at day care.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.