Tuesday, September 9, 2008

How To Sanitize Your Little Germ Factory

Researchers from Harvard University have determined that communities which contain a lot of small children are likely to be struck more severely by the flu. Children are "key flu spreaders" because they don't wash their hands as often or as well as they should, they tend to wipe their eyes and noses with their fingers, they sneeze directly into their hands, and they attend crowded, dirty schools and day care centers where millions of invisible germs party on a daily basis.
(Well, duh! Any parent or teacher could have told you that without conducting a four-year study. But I digress.)
So. How do you keep your little bundle of happiness from spreading those little bundles of disease around your house?
Two little words. Fear and brainwashing.
Start by instilling fear. Explain to your children what germs are, how they are spread, and what havoc they can wreak on their little bodies. Paint a mental picture for them that is so vivid and appalling that their eyes widen in shock.
Then begin the brainwashing. Every time your children come out of the bathroom, bark "Did you wash your hands?". Your child will lie and say that he did. Say "Go back in and do it again. AND USE LOTS OF SOAP!!!" This should happen at least 4-5 times a day. When your children arrive home from school, do not greet them with a smile and a hug. Cut off their excited cries of "Hi, Mommy!" with a curt "take off your shoes and wash your hands, and then you can come talk to me." Phrases like "change your shirt, it's dirty", "did you brush your teeth? No, really, did you?" and "when was the last time you washed your face?" should be flung at your children throughout the day.
At first, your mother, your sister, and your neighbor will be appalled at the way that you are speaking to your children. The children themselves will be tense and confused. After a few weeks, however, your kids will see that you mean business and will begin to wash their hands (with soap!), brush their teeth (with toothpaste!), and remove their shoes at the door without being told to. As these habits become ingrained, you can ease up a bit, and your children will gradually forget your fascist behavior and will grow to love you again.
It's a win-win situation for all.
If you start now, perhaps you can avoid having the flu hit your house this winter.


izzy said...

Washing hands upon returning home from school is NOT optional, even after your kids are past the preschool age, do you really want whatever germs live on the school bus coming into your house? I started out making my kids let me smell their "washed" hands so I could be sure they used soap. Now, just asking if they would pass the smell test is usually enough to send any "chetaers" back to the bathroom.

Leora said...

Another option is the nutrition route...get them to like garlic! So far, I've only succeeded in getting my youngest to like garlic, and that's only if it's cooked in a spread. I'm not sure if an apple a day really and truly keeps the doctor away, but every little bit helps.

Fascism is a good mothering method when it comes to cleanliness. I'm going to have to work on my dictatorial style.

ProfK said...

We always used to warn any new teacher that the first year s/he taught she was going to come down sick far more often then s/he was used to doing. Didn't need Harvard to teach us that. I was also a soap nut at home, but by the time the kids came home from school they already had the bugs in their systems. One set of kisses and hugs hello and I had already been exposed to whatever their classmates had been spreading around. Yes, the washing at home helps, but they need to have enforced "wash periods" at school or all our home methods won't work.

aliyah06 said...

They paid 'researchers' to discover this? My grandmother knew this!! Which you rightly pointed out....but are those folks at Harvard so out of touch with real life that they don't know this without a research study?? Oy!

Lion of Zion said...

i know how leora feels about this, and since no one else has mentioned it, i suspect some of you might agree with her. but i would be remisce if i didn't mention the importance of the flu shot.
i scanned in my primer in the middle of this post.

i agree with leora about nutrition, although i would focus more on proper diet than on garlic or other supplements.

SuperRaizy said...

Nice to meet a fellow handwashing maniac.
Why garlic? I'm trying to keep germs away, not vampires.
Preschool classes have "handwashing times" throughout the day, but the older children don't. That's why you have to brainwash them.
Actually, the point of the article was that children as young as 18 months should receive a flu shot. I realize now that I got carried away and forgot to discuss that part.

Lion of Zion said...

"as young as 18 months"

iirc (ooh i'm so embarrassed to write that in this context) agencies such as the cdc and nyc dept. of health recommend flu vaccines for all children aged 6 months to 5 years. the fda has approved the the shot for kids as young as 6 months and the nose spray for kids 2 years and older. obviously consult a pediatrician for further info

"why garlic"

it is alleged (and i personally would stress alleged) that it helps prevent the flu and colds, as well as having other health benefits. it can't hurt to take it (other than bad breath), but be careful if one other medications (especially blood thinners). obviously consult your PCP for further info.

muse said...

rather complicated
some germs need to be added to the system
Some people get sick from the flu shot.

Soap, water and common sense are best.

Lion of Zion said...


i'm not sure what you mean by "get sick," but the side effects of the flu shot are relatively minor (as opposed to the nasal spray vaccination, which is a live virus and can cause the flu).

Baila said...

"Fascism is a good mothering method


I always tell my kids that our home is a dictatorship, not a democracy.

And I drove my kids nuts, just like you advise, Raizy. I'd like to say that today they are hand-washing freaks, but....

Garnel Ironheart said...

My home is a democracy. Only I get 4 votes and the other 3 only get 1 each. Works every time, unless I'm of two minds about something.

Anyway, handwashing, good nutrition, and adequate sleep are the three best ways to prevent illness as the law still prohibits sterilizing the little buggers with a flame thrower.

Mrs. Belogski said...

this is just so american! in England we know that a little bit of dirt doesn't hurt and that actually one of the reasons why children get ill so often is because their environments are over sanitized so that they don't build up resistance. My kids wash their hands after using the bathroom,obviously, before eating if they are dirty and, my personal meshugas, after we have used public transport - i would never send them to wash their hands after they come in from school, nor would i dream of giving them flu vaccine - bli ayin hora, i can't remember the last time we needed a doctor!

The Babysitter said...

At first I thought you were joking when you said how you have to be strict with them and not hug them when they come home from school till they wash their hands. But I see your serious, I can see how it can help. But it just seems to harsh to me. Maybe as a parent its possible to do this. But when I babysat the triplets the mother had told me that they should take off their shoes and wash their hands when they come inside. The kids seem to know to take off their shoes on their own because of habit. But the going to the bathroom and washing hands part they didn't really do right away.

I understand the importance of washing hands but yet in a way the germ factor can be necessary.

SuperRaizy said...

I was joking, or rather exaggerating (that's why I called it "fascist behavior"). I am strict with my kids about washing their hands right away, but I don't really bark at them or stop them from hugging me!

Frumteacher said...

Great post. I always keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at hand, both at school and on the road. It's the best! I also let my students use it if they want.