Surviving the cold and flu season for working parents

6 tips to protect your family against everyday colds and flu

Is it just us or have you noticed everyday cold and flu are back with a vengeance? Chances are at least one family member will catch the latest bug doing the rounds in the classroom or workplace if they haven’t already. 

So, what can you do to protect your family, and, if the inevitable happens, how do you juggle illness and work? Here are our top tips for staying well for busy working parents.

Good nutrition starts now

It goes without saying, prevention is better than cure. By keeping yourself and your family in top shape every day of the year, you’re much less likely to catch a cold. Strengthen your immune system with good nutrition. Think prebiotics (our favorites include onion, garlic, berries, carrot, banana, asparagus, honey, coconut, pumpkin seeds, green tea, ginger, and quinoa) and probiotics (high-quality fermented foods such as Greek yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi). Whip up a batch of chicken soup for the soul, encourage kids to ‘eat the rainbow’, and don’t forget plenty of water for hydration!

Did you know gargling salt water can help prevent a sore throat, and is a tried and true remedy when illness strikes? Kids turning their noses up? Try a honey and lemon drink for a tastier blend.

Wash, wash, wash your hands

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that handwashing with soap and water is one of the easiest ways to stop germs from spreading. But getting kids to do it—and do it right—can be a challenge. Model good hand hygiene and explain why it’s important. Make it easy for kids to reach sinks and taps, and introduce a little fun to take the chore out of it. 20 seconds of scrubbing is the goal: the equivalent of singing two rounds of ‘Happy Birthday’.  

All of the other protections we have learned about during the pandemic, like mask-wearing, physical distancing, vaccination, and sanitization apply too!

Rest up

Often easier said than done, but getting adequate rest is essential to shorten the severity of a cold or give your body a chance to fight the flu. Tuck yourself and the kids into bed at every opportunity with a box of tissues within arms’ reach, and a pile of books at the ready for when you can lift your head off the pillow. 

Talk to your employer

OK, so it can be tough contacting your employer to explain for the third time this month your child is home from child care and you need to be there, but delaying it won’t make it go away. Communicate promptly and professionally, use their preferred method of communication, and please, please, please avoid sharing the gory details. 

The same goes if it’s you who is sick. Coworkers are more concerned about their own health than your conscientiousness, so avoid putting them at risk. If you can… Just. Stay. Home.

Embrace flexibility

Illness can take you by surprise: one moment you’re nailing that pitch to a room full of C-suite executives and the next you barely can keep your itchy eyes open. When illness strikes, your regular schedule is bound to take off out the window so you’ll need to adapt. Ask those around you to be flexible, and embrace flexibility yourself. Prioritize your to-do list and let go of any unnecessary tasks; you can always catch up when the family is well again. 

Ask for help

Have a backup plan of emergency caregivers and support you can call on to shuttle the kids to sport or prepare a wholesome meal. There’s no more important time than now to reach out to your ‘village’—if you’re hesitant to ask for fear of imposing, try owing them one.

Illness happens to the best of us. While it’s inconvenient (usually) and unpleasant (always), everybody understands. So, let go of any worry you have about what others might think (they just want you to get well soon), take care of yourself and your family, and we’ll see you again when you’re back to 100% health.

Written by the Circle In team.

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