Hello, winter! Cold and flu season is upon us and chances are at least one family member will catch the latest bug doing the rounds in the classroom or workplace, and pass it round at home.
So, what can you do to prevent it, and, if the inevitable happens, how do you juggle illness and work? Here are our top tips to survive the winter cold and flu season 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 this cold and flu season, you’re much less likely to catch a cold. Strengthen your immune system with good nutrition. Think seasonal, local whole foods. Also prebiotics (our favourites include onion, garlic, berries, banana, honey, coconut, pumpkin seeds, green tea, ginger, quinoa) and probiotics (high quality fermented foods such as Greek yoghurt, sauerkraut, kombucha). 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
Hand washing 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: equivalent to singing two rounds of ‘Happy Birthday’.
Often easier said than done, but getting adequate rest this cold and flu season is essential to shorten the severity of a cold or give your body a chance to fight flu. Tuck yourself and the kids into bed at every opportunity—day and night—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’s awks contacting your boss to explain for the third time this cold and flu season your child is home from childcare and you need to be there, but delaying it won’t make it go away. Tell your boss promptly and professionally, use her preferred method of communication, and please, please, please avoid sharing the gory details.
Same goes if it’s you who is sick. You can bet colleagues are more concerned about their own health than your conscientiousness, so avoid putting them at risk and Just. Stay. Home.
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. Prioritise 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 back up plan of emergency carers 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 support network—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 may 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 team at Circle In
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