Hey all, I’m writing this post as the world shuts down due to health concerns.
I am not an expert on infectious disease, but I have been married to a primary care doctor for 30 years. We have been practicing safe health practices to control the spread of viruses he sees at work from coming into our home.
I hope sharing what we do at home helps! (If it does, please share to your social media!!!)
Controlling viruses at home is easier than you think!
In general, viruses spread when we touch things that others with the virus have touched. If you go to the grocery store, the gas station or any public space, you could encounter a virus — whether the flu, the common cold or other germs. Here is what we do at home.
Create a buffer zonE AT THE ENTRANCE
When my husband sees sick patients at work, he does not hug us or do anything else before changing clothes and washing up. With the current health concerns, we are stepping it up and making everyone do what he has always done:
- When you come home, remove shoes immediately. Keep a basket by the door if you don’t have a good place for shoes.
- Set purses, brief cases and lunch bags someplace besides your kitchen counter! And wipe them down with a Clorox wipe daily if you have it.
- Change clothes if you have been anywhere near other people. If you take the dog for a walk in the neighborhood and don’t visit others, no need to change. If you go shopping, out to dinner or to a medical appointment, change clothes immediately. Put dirty clothes in the washer (we are using Color Catcher right now so we can wash mixed clothes without turning our whites to pink). This is not the time to test how many times you can wear a pair of jeans without washing them.
- If you don’t have a washer and dryer at home, then wear one outfit to go out in public and change when you get home.
- This is an extreme measure for those who are super concerned or who go someplace with a high risk of contamination (aka, my hubby, the doctor)
- Wash hands well — at least 20 seconds with soap. Follow CDC guidelines for handwashing. They explain it well.
- Wipe down your cell phone. Check with your phone’s manufacturer for how to clean your phone safely. We are using Clorox wipes for our phones.
- Daily, wipe down exterior door knobs. Obviously, you could do this every time you use an exterior door. Your choice!
If you take these steps, you keep germs from spreading throughout all the surfaces in your house. But, there’s more you can do!
HOW YOU CAN BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
We are not big on supplements to prevent illness, and we rarely get sick. However, we do practice some regular healthy habits to keep our bodies strong and healthy. Some of the best things you can do to boost your natural defenses are:
- HYDRATE WITH WATER! A well-hydrated body is a strong body. Your cells need sufficient water to do their job. Feed them water!
- EAT COLORFUL FOODS. Yes, there’s a reason they say an apple a day keeps the doctor away! Green, blue, purple and red foods (not potatoes) boost natural defenses. Eat your fruits and veggies!
- SLEEP! An exhausted body cannot fight germs the way a well rested body does.
When you treat your body well, it treats you well.
Staying ahead of the germs
Besides taking care of our bodies, we try to stay ahead of the germs and avoid behaviors that increase the risk of illness. Some of the things we do are:
- Not sharing toothpaste or toothbrush holders. Everyone in our family has their own tube of toothpaste, and we keep toothbrushes in individual cups rather than a shared cup.
- Wash pillow cases weekly. Pillows are germy, too. We wash sheets, pillow cases and pillow covers weekly. If someone is sick, we wash their pillows, too.
- Change washcloths and towels often. We don’t change body towels daily, but we change them every three days or so. We do change hand towels daily!
- Don’t share cups or food. This is one of the easiest ways to share germs. When we do want to share food, like at a restaurant, we will either take a bite from each other’s plate first, before utensils make it to our mouths, or ask for an additional fork. Food sharing is one of the easiest ways to spread germs.
- Wash jackets, lunch boxes and backpacks regularly. That black stuff on your kid’s backpack? EWWWW! Wipe it down. We use machine washable lunch bags and try to buy macnine washable jackets.
What’s your tip for a healthy house?
Keeping your family healthy when you get sick
When our kids reached age two (give or take), we did not cuddle them when they got sick. And, if my husband or I ever get sick, we self-quarantine to the bedroom immediately — at least the best we can.
If you are sick, let the kids live on cereal and peanut butter and jelly for a while — or whatever they can eat as a grab and go. They will survive without a home cooked meal!
Here’s what we do for sick kids:
- Create a cozy space with washable pillows, blankets and cuddly things. We used to call it a “nest” and encouraged our “baby birds” to snuggle in. It kept them off of us! If you only have one living space, create a “nest” on a chair — and let that be the sick person’s spot.
- Teach kids young to cough into their elbow, COVERING their mouth and nose fully. Coughing toward the elbow doesn’t help! Wearing an oversize sweatshirt helps with this. Show them good coughing and bad coughing technique. Teach them now!
- Hydration is most important. Whatever will get fluids in is a good choice — whether that’s jello, gatorade, water, or juice. (NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR YOUR DOCTOR’S DIRECTIVES)
- Let them eat somewhere besides where the family is.
- DO NOT SHARE FOOD AND DRINK with other family members! That means don’t eat the last few bites on your child’s plate. Don’t scrape leftovers into one container. Each person’s food is their own food. ALWAYS! (This is my hubby’s big pet peeve)
- If you have two bathrooms, designate one for sick people and one for healthy people. And change hand towels daily!
Here’s what we do when a parent is sick:
- Isolation. Have you ever wanted to lay in bed and watch a movie? That’s what you should do when you’re sick.
- Eat simply. We don’t cook when we’re sick. If it can’t be assembled or cooked by a healthy family member, it doesn’t happen. SICK PEOPLE WHO COOK MAKE OTHERS SICK! If they push back, show them this post! 🙂
- Hydrate. Coffee is not your friend. Drink the morning cup to avoid a caffeine headache, but hydrate with water. Water is your best friend!
- Don’t have kids give mommy or daddy a get well kiss. They can make a card. They’ll survive a few days without hugs and kisses!
- Don’t join the family for dinner. There are no prizes for pushing through — you just make everyone else sick.
- If you have two bathrooms, designate one for sick people!
This is counter-intuitive. We want to hug and kiss and snuggle. But, the whole family gets sick that way. Isolating the sick person is the best thing you can do for the whole family! We rarely pass germs from one family member to another.
Cleaning a germ infested house
So, when someone in the family does get sick, we try hard to keep the germs at bay.
- Sick people are not allowed near the kitchen or dining room table. This is our number one rule!
- We wipe down all door knobs and light switches daily — though isolating the sick person makes this easier. We don’t have to clean repeatedly if they stay in one space away from others.
- Wipe down soap dispensers, door jams and stair rails, too. Walk through your house with a paper towel in hand and if you naturally reach for something, it needs cleaned!
- We wash bathroom sinks, faucets and toilet handles daily using a germ killing spray.
- We open windows to circulate air — especially helpful in new, airtight homes.
- We change bathroom hand towels daily and use fresh towels in the kitchen every time it gets cleaned.
When someone is sick at home, it can be hard to keep germs at bay. We try hard to keep sickness out of the house by using the steps to create a clean bubble at home. When someone gets sick, we take it a bit further and try to keep them away from others so they don’t pass illness to the rest of us.
You might also like these posts:
- Healthy foods that taste great — what to eat every day!
- Top board games for teens — to keep the boredom at bay.
- Step-by-step pantry organizer — if you’re going to be home anyway!
Nothing in this post is intended to substitute what your own doctor or health care provider recommends. ALWAYS follow your doctor’s advice. This post is only intended to provide suggestions based on our personal experience.