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Toronto, Canada

312 Adelaide Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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Gather Your Dragons (flu season is here!)

Written by Jessi McAlpine

Remember when you were a kid, and you looked forward to winter because it meant enjoying a day outdoors skiing or skating and then cozying up by the fire with a hot drink? Now that you’re a parent, you’re probably dreading the long upcoming winter because it means building up a sweat wrestling tiny screaming people into snow suits, boots, mitts, hats and scarves (does anyone else consider this their cardio workout for the day? Who needs the gym?). It also means germs, endlessly runny noses, coughs, colds, and … the flu. Seriously: our precious little ones become teeming cesspools of disease in the winter.

I walked into Goose’s daycare to pick him up the other day and saw a notice that there is a case of pinkeye at the centre, and just thought,

“Okay winter: COME AT ME, BRO.”

Heading into cold and flu season is like gearing up for a battle on Game of Thrones — most of us will not make it through unscathed (and also because Winter Is Coming). But we can still gather our proverbial dragons: as a first line of defense, The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends the flu shot for everyone over the age of six months. The effectiveness of the shot varies each year, but for most healthy people, the benefit of the shot outweighs any risk. If you’re still hesitant, here’s a great link from Health Canada that dispels some of the common myths about the flu shot. Personally, I’ve only started getting the flu shot over the last five years, and my experience has been that I’ve avoided getting very sick during flu season compared to previous years.

Here are some other things you can do to build your family’s defences during cold and flu season:
  1. Wash those hands! Scrub them. All the time. Use soap and water. Sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” all the way through while you do it (both to encourage thoroughness and because it’s fun).
  2. Teach your kids (and yourself) to cough and sneeze into their elbow instead of their hands. This will prevent them from touching everything around them with germy little hands. I mean they’ll still be touching everything, I haven’t figured out how to prevent that (invisible force field?), but their hands won’t be quite so germy.
  3. Keep frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs, counters, light switches and telephones clean and disinfected. Even the lazy among us (myself included) can muster the energy to run a disinfecting wipe over these surfaces on the regular.
  4. Eat your fruits and veggies to help keep your immune system strong. With the local farmers’ market shut down for the winter, we’ve had to get creative finding nutritious seasonal veggies. Encourage your kids to try new things “because it’s winter, and we this is what we eat in winter.” (Let me know if this works.)
  5. When the inevitable happens and you or your kids do get sick, keep your germs to yourself (or at least stay away from me). Stay home, cozy up with that hot drink, and get better!

Have you and your kids gotten the flu shot? Who stays home with your kids when they are sick?

 photo credit: horslips5 via photopin

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.