Will we ever be healthy again?

Getting sick when you have little kids is certainly not uncommon. Those little germ collectors regularly sideline as germ dispensers, and while parents can do everything in their power to keep their kids healthy, it seems that the endless cycle of household illnesses is inevitable.

I had been warned about the many illnesses my son would catch when he first started attending daycare. I was also told to expect those first two years to be the worst for him getting sick, and it made sense: his little immune system, which had been well-guarded on the home front, would be suddenly thrust into a new environment filled with a plethora of new points of contact. And given the fact that toddlers don’t seem to understand the concept of personal space, it is no wonder that germs intermingle freely amongst them.

Sharing is caring, after all—so why would they keep their colds to themselves? That’s just being selfish!

Having been a first-time mom during the height of the pandemic, keeping my son healthy was, and continues to be, a top priority. Regular check-ins with the doctor, keeping him up-to-date with his shots, and an endless routine of handwashing helped to keep my little boy healthy for the first year of his life. I consider myself lucky that I didn’t have to see my child get seriously ill until he was about 16 months old.

The first time your kid gets sick is difficult for any parent. My little one’s first battle with sickness was with croup, and I remember how scary it was as I cradled my little guy in my arms and felt the jaggedness of his breathing up against my chest. While the nurse we had was an absolute angel who provided every possible comfort, I will never forget how terrifying that moment was.

Luckily, most of the daycare and school-bound illnesses are not that severe. Though, the frequency of how often illnesses enter our home these days is something I wish could improve. I am not alone in this. I have spoken to many parents who agree that their children are constantly getting sick and finding themselves in a similar pattern—a pattern that allows families to enjoy a two-week reprieve before the next bug comes along.

It’s exhausting and can really take a toll on household morale.

But what can we do about it?

Well, we can fight it as best we can. We can use medicines or antibiotics, or home remedies (especially as drugstore aisles remain bare across the country), and we can get lots of rest and keep our children home when they’re sick. And don’t forget those hands! Keep washing those hands, folks. If your child is anything like mine, their hands are all over everything and will require frequent trips to the sink.

Although, it needs to be said that regardless of how diligent we are about keeping our little ones healthy, we will always face resistance. And, unfortunately, this resistance often comes from the very souls we’re trying to protect.

Children, especially young children, are not focused on what germs they can pick up. They’re busy playing, learning, exploring and devouring the world around them. They live in the now, and often don’t understand the consequences of some of their less-than-sanitary behaviour. In fact, I am frequently haunted by the painful image of my darling two-year-old with a twinkle in his eye as he licked one of the amusement-park railings last summer.

Yep, that happened, and seconds after that, I washed his hands and reminded him that we don’t put things we find lying around into our mouths. The message was definitely not received. I froze, mouth agape, as another parent in the line patted me on the shoulder in a silent show of support.

We’ve all been there, right?

Regardless, we must strive to instill a good sense of hygiene into our little ones. Unfortunately, getting sick is and will always be a part of life. All we can really do is take reasonable and responsible measures to make sure we are doing our part in preventing the spread to others and to get our children feeling better as quickly as possible.

I’m learning to appreciate the healthy days more and more. I have learned to soak them in and to utilize those days in a manner that provides my family with the most relief. Whether it is a fun family outing or a day full of joyful relaxation, making the most of the ever-desirable healthy times is pivotal to surviving the vile, unhealthy ones—because (I’m sorry to say) they’ll be back.

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