This post is by KS contributing writer Pam Farley from Brown Thumb Mama.
Moms: does back-to-school time stress you out? There are supplies to buy, healthy lunches to plan, and all the jitters associated with new teachers, different classmates, and changing routines.
Unfortunately, all of these changes can weaken our immune systems and make our kids more susceptible to sickness. Add in all the new germs they’re exposed to in school and it’s just a matter of time before somebody has the sniffles or a tummyache…right?
You can keep the germs away safely and naturally. Here are four methods we use to keep our family healthy when school starts.
Start with a Strong Body
Daily exercise, healthy food, and lots of water are important for everyone. (Moms, this means you, too!) Pack a reusable water bottle in the kids’ lunch, and steer them away from the drinking fountain. They aren’t sanitized nearly as often as you’d like (i.e., hardly ever).
Pump up everyone’s system even more, and keep your internal systems healthy and strong, with a daily dose of probiotics and cod liver oil.
A fun way to strengthen your body is with immune-enhancing yoga. I had no idea this existed until a yoga-fanatic friend told me about it.
Legs up the Wall is a silly pose and is great for anyone who is on their feet all day. Our entire family did this pose after a looooong day at Disneyland and the next day, we were as good as new. The kids got a kick out of watching Daddy wiggle up against the wall and stick his feet in the air. 🙂
No Antibacterial Soap
Katie has been telling us to get rid of antibacterial soap since 2009, and here’s why, in one word–Triclosan.
This chemical is antibacterial and antifungal, so it sounds like it’s good for fighting germs, right? Unfortunately, it does much more than that, according to the Environmental Working Group.
- Triclosan causes endocrine disruption at very low doses. It produces adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. (source)
- Triclosan is persistent and bioaccumulative in wildlife. This means it doesn’t break down in the environment and it builds up in food chains–posing risks to human health and ecosystems. (source)
- Triclosan causes severe hormone disruption in wildlife. It changes testosterone concentration in male rats and hastens puberty in female rats. (source)
If you really want your head to spin, read all the warnings on Triclosan’s Material Safety Data Sheet. (This is a document that contains information on a chemical’s potential health, fire, reactivity, and environmental hazards and how to work safely with that specific chemical product.)
Are these products all over your house? Don’t feel bad–they used to be all over my house too. Before you throw them in the trash, find out if your city considers personal care products to be household hazardous waste. Then you’ll know how to dispose of them.
For extra credit, mail the product back to the manufacturer with a letter explaining why you’re taking a stand.
Good news–plain old soap and warm water works just fine to get rid of germs. (source)
I make my own foaming hand soap, and I include an immune-boosting essential oil blend called OnGuard during cold and flu season. (Learn more about essential oils here). OnGuard contains wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils, which provide immune support and kill germs–safely and naturally.
Here are some fun handwashing songs that will keep your little ones focused for the full 20 seconds of washing needed to get hands fully clean.
Sung to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
See how clean my two hands are
Soap and water, wash and scrub
Get those germs off, rub a dub
Twinkle, twinkle, little star
See how clean my two hands are!
Sung to the tune of “Frere Jacques” (sing it twice)
Tops and bottoms, tops and bottoms,
In between, in between,
Scrub-a-dub my hands, scrub-a-dub my hands
Now they’re clean, squeaky CLEAN!
I prefer to wash with soap and water, but sometimes that’s just not practical. If you can’t wash, be sure to use hand sanitizer before eating, after sneezing/coughing, etc.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer works well if used correctly but be sure it doesn’t contain Triclosan! Alcohol is also very drying, so it’s always better to wash with soap and water if at all possible.
There are several homemade, natural hand sanitizer recipes out there–my version contains aloe vera gel, witch hazel, and essential oils.
Extra Credit for Teachers & Moms
Maybe it’s the nerd in me, but I love extra credit. There’s something about getting more than 100% on a test that makes my heart smile. Here are some extra germ-busters you can use around the house and/or classroom to help you stay healthy:
- Citrus vinegar breaks down mold, grease, mineral deposits, and it’s anti-bacterial. Infusing the vinegar with citrus peels means your house won’t smell like a salad while you’re cleaning.
- Kill germs without bleach, using two items that are probably in your medicine cabinet right now. I use this when our toddler has a potty accident while taking a bath. (Why does this always happen to me and not Hubby?)
- Use a germ-fighting essential oil blend, like OnGuard, to wipe light switches and doorknobs. Imagine all the little germy fingers that touch these each day!
How does your family fight the back-to-school germs?
Note from Katie: This is the first in a back-to-school theme that will last through the end of next week, culminating in some really, really good giveaways. I can’t give away any secrets yet, but the $ value and the “I would really use that!” value are both super high!!
Disclosure: There may be affiliate links in this post from which I will earn some commission if you make a purchase. See my full disclosure statement here.