Healthy Family & Home

What lengths do you go to protect your kids from germs?

When I pick up my older son from preschool, I always bring his little brother with me. Sometimes I let the little one check out the toys and books in the play area.

The other day, my toddler was carrying around a book and occasionally putting the corner to his mouth. I was only taking a moment to jot down a note for the teacher, so I knew he wouldn’t get far. But a concerned mom walked over to him, took the book from him, and said, “I don’t think you really want that in your mouth.”



I’m not really sure what she meant – was she genuinely concerned that my son was getting into something that might be dirty? Or was she worried he might pass his germs on to other kids there?

Either way, I hadn’t been that concerned. I just am not that worried about everyday germs. I’d go crazy trying to keep everything from my toddler’s mouth.

My older son knows to cover his mouth with his arm when he has to sneeze or cough. He automatically washes his hands after going to the bathroom. Those are the bare minimums for keeping your germs to yourself, and at four years old, he does pretty well.

I also cancel playdates if he’s sniffly or coughing, even if he is in good spirits with no sign of fever. But beyond this, we don’t go out of our way to do much to keep germs at bay.

I’ve also found it impossible to keep the brothers’ germs separated.

Little brother just wants to test out everything with his mouth, including big brother’s straw, snack leftovers, and even his baseball bat. And with two kids, there’s just no way I could keep everything out of his reach.

Worst of all, this has been big brother’s first year in preschool, so he has caught everything. Strangely enough, the little brother has rarely come down with even a stuffy nose.

We were pretty picky around the house when they were newborns, though.

We were especially protective when they were first born, as they were premature and the doctor warned us about the potential dangers of catching a cold with their immature immune systems. But when they’re that small, it’s so much easier to shield them from everything.

How about you? What lengths do you go to keep germs at bay around your kids?

Healthy Family & Home

Treating ear infections – keeping a warm cloth on a wiggly child’s ear

When I was in elementary school, we lined our mittens up on the radiators in the classroom to dry them after a cold and snowy recess. If any of us developed an earache, our teacher would tell us to grab a hot mitten from the radiator and hold it to the ear.

If you don’t have a hot mitten nearby, I’ve got a nifty trick you can try using one of our earflap hats (also called an aviator hat), to hold a warm cloth in place on a child’s ear.

How does warmth help an ear infection?

An ear infection hurts because of pressure on the ear drum as it bulges to contain fluid that is building up. Heat works to help fluid in the ear break up and be on its way, thus relieving pressure on the ear drum.

But getting a child to lie still on his or her side and hold a cloth perfectly in place themselves for long enough can be a challenge.

A trick for keeping a warm cloth on a wiggly child’s ear

Put the earflap hat on your child without tying the strings. Then take a regular, dry wash cloth and microwave it for 20-25 seconds to warm it. (My husband and I also did this to warm our babies’ blankets after bath time.)

Check that the cloth is not too hot, just comfortably warm to the touch. If it’s too hot, wave it in the air a bit until it’s the right temperature, and then tuck it under the earflap next to the offending ear. Tie the strings under the chin. Let your child lay back and relax.

If your baby is up for it, you can also place them with their painful ear on your chest to provide warmth. But good luck getting your preschooler to do that!

And of course, we’re not doctors here. So make sure you get your child to a doctor if you suspect an ear infection.

While we’re on the topic, I highly recommend a trip to Web MD’s Ear Infection Health Center . You’ll find a vast number of articles dedicated to the topic, including worksheets to help you decide when to give antibiotics.

What about you? How do you get through dreaded ear infections with your little ones?

Healthy Family & Home

When Mommy is sick – what happens in your house?

Moms run the universe, and everyone finds this out when Mom gets sick. At least in our house they do. How about in yours?

What happens in your house when Mommy is sick?

  1. Not much differently – she takes whatever medicine she can and ploughs through it all in a fog.
  2. The babysitter and a maid are called in (otherwise known as grandparents and willing friends to some) while Mom gets much needed rest.
  3. Daddy takes over and most things happen as they need to (well, except for the massive cleanup required upon Mom’s recovery).

I found out that ours is a Type C household recently.

I came down with a stomach virus that knocked me off my feet for about 36 hours. I almost never get sick, THAT kind of sick, so I was pleased, grateful – and also vaguely unaware (at the time) of just what a great job my husband did taking care of the kids.

He did exactly what was needed to keep the kids safe and happy – all I could have asked for.

When Daddy takes over                                                                

My husband is not the sort of guy who comes home from work, juggles two whining kids, cooks dinner and ushers in bath and bedtime all by himself normally. (I know they're out there!)

While he has strategies for when he has to care for both at the same time, he’s never done it for more than two or three hours at a time – and usually one is sleeping.

I spent the entire Sunday in bed, delirious and shivering under mounds of blankets. My husband scrounged leftovers from the fridge for lunch, ordered dinner out for a special treat, and made sure he and the kids ate well. He had them bathed and in bed on time. There were few tears throughout the day, and both kids had a bit of mommy cuddling time – but not too much.

I was impressed.

Granted, when I woke up nearly normal the next day, the house was in complete disarray and laundry had piled up. (I’m sure the babysitter and maid would have made an appearance had I been sick for a week.) But all in all, I was just so happy to have been able to get the rest I needed to kick that stomach bug without the stress of worrying about the kids, too.

So, do tell. What happens in your house when Mommy is knocked out?

Healthy Family & Home

One year later – what it’s like having two kids now

As I planned for the arrival of our second child, I polled other parents I knew to glean advice from those who had experience parenting more than one child (here’s their advice Part 1 and Part 2).

Then I wrote about how it was going for us after several months, and recently I jotted down all the best parts of having two.

As a parent yourself, you know nothing ever stays constant with children. They are always changing, growing, developing. So now that Nik is 15 months and Rohan is four, the dynamics are different yet again.

Here’s what’s going on with our family now

The preschooler tries to keep the toddler in check

My four-year-old son is constantly yelling “No!” to the one-year-old. Now that Nik can walk, he gets into everything, and Rohan feels it’s his duty to police him. It actually seems to bother the older brother when the little guy puts something into his mouth he’s not supposed to or does something he knows I wouldn’t approve of.

But I’m much more relaxed about things

Food flung from the high chair, books pulled off the shelves, magnetic toys slammed off the fridge door – I don’t mind any of it now. I just pick it up when I get a chance later, or even better, get Nik’s help to “put it back”. (I figure my anal retentive obsession with keeping everything tidy when son #1 was little may be the reason for the issue we’re having above.)

They play together more now

There are moments every day when the two siblings get along great and do something together. It might be just making the same noises and laughing at each other, or it might be a silly game where we turn the kitchen into a bowling alley while I’m cooking. Rohan surely loved being with his brother when he was a baby, but now that he’s older they come closer to really playing together.

The preschooler has lost his interest in sharing toys

This one has me baffled. The four-year-old never had a problem sharing until recently. Now he doesn’t want Nik to have anything, even going so far as to snatch things from him.

Big child is in preschool = easier days for Mommy

Rohan goes to school 9-2:30 Monday to Friday, so I get alone time with Nik. I try to balance special time with him and errands, so he can benefit from my full attention to help his reading, potty training and his general feeling of being important. Until we had this time together, I always felt he was being short-changed in his Mommy-time.

Still a challenge to spend special time with older child

I have a couple hours with both kids until Daddy gets home, and that’s usually when I cook dinner. It’s a challenging time, and I always wish I could find a way to really connect with Rohan after school before we start down that stretch of time. Still working on this…

 How about you? Do you have it down or are there still areas you’re challenged with while raising two kids?