In spite of eating relatively healthy my family has struggled with staying well. When you have small children they just seem to be germ magnets! Mine all have bad habits that tend to make this worse. I have one (constant) nose picker, two thumb suckers, and one finger sucker. All are at the age when hand washing is not automatic. Not to mention my house is dryer than the Sahara Desert due to heating with wood most of the time. Winter came early this year and so did the battle against the common cold. From October to January my kids had at least two- three colds a MONTH EACH. Colds that involved coughing, congestion, and waking up at night. This led to some serious frustration on my part. Here are some solutions I came up with that helped.
1. Hand washing. I had to get pretty mean Mom about this one. Hand washing is the number one thing you can do to stay well! I made firm rules about washing before meals, snack, and after using the bathroom. I had to be much more aware of what my kids were doing. When you have four, it is harder to know what everyone is doing! When we were at church I made them wash their hands before they ate or drank anything and as soon as we got home they had to wash their hands. Proper hand washing is with SOAP for 20 seconds and rinse well with running water. To help my younger children remember this I had them sing the ABC song. Now it is fun to hear them washing their hands!
2. We cut back on sugar. Now we don’t eat huge amounts of sugar at our house and almost no processed sugar. The kids were eating the sugary snacks set out on Sunday mornings at church. These were banned until my kids were healthy for three weeks in a row. Here is what Web MD has to say about sugar:
“Eating or drinking too much sugar curbs immune system cells that attack bacteria. This effect lasts for at least a few hours after downing a couple of sugary drinks.”
Since church was the place the kids seemed to be catching their cold from since we didn’t go out much due to having sick kids. The kids and I would go every other Sunday when we were all well- and they would invariably catch something. Having sugar could have been part of the issue. Now that they are not getting sick we can go do fun things!
3. Boost their immune systems. In desperation I did a search and asked friends what worked for them. One friends suggested making some immune boosting tinctures from herbs. I was ready to try anything at this point. She suggested the recipe found in the ABC Herbal. ( it is in the older addition but not the newer ones) I was giving this to them every evening for the first two weeks when I remembered that it should really be given just before you are going somewhere you are worried about getting sick. In our case, this was church. I give them their “medicine” in the evenings starting on Friday or Saturday and go until Monday or Tuesday.
4. Elderberry Syrup. I am also giving them Elderberry Syrup. I used the recipe from Deep Roots at Home. I gave this on the same schedule as the other Immune Tincture. Three out of four of my children think this is wonderful. One is not impressed, but he likes being well so he takes it!
5. Keep fingers out of noses, mouths, and eyes. I taught one of my children to stop sucking her thumb with a chart, band aids for the first week, and a reward after 4 weeks. She was so pleased that she did something hard and was able to stop. I am hoping that this will work some of the other bad habits that are floating around in the family!
In the last eight weeks we have had two (milder than normal) colds TOTAL, and those were in the first two week after I started the herbs. There are six people in my house and four in the seven and under crowd. Not bad! Normally my children are still frequently sick until the end of April, so this can’t be because it is later in the cold and flu season! I am so thankful that I found something that works. Now I won’t be dreading next winter- well, not quite as badly anyway.