Congratulations — your baby just started preschool! You’re probably a mix of emotions right now. You’re sad to see summer go but excited to get into a new routine. You’re nervous to send your baby off for few hours a day, but you are looking forward to the newfound independence you’ll both have. You and your child may also be looking forward to meeting new friends! However, there’s one friend you’ll meet that you aren’t expecting… one you’ll be spending a whooooole lot of time with this year.
His name is Bacteria, and he’s a big jerk.
Preschool is a delightful time of discovery, exploration, and sickness like you would not BELIEVE. If your little buddy has never been to daycare and is new to the preschool scene, let me paint a picture for you: There will be boogers everywhere. Everywhere. Strep will run through every kid in that class at least twice, and you’ll probably be graced with a stomach bug that will ravage your family for weeks. Delightful, right?
Exposure to different germs is good for the immune system. By the end of this year your entire family will be tired, but you’ll have immune systems of steel. I speak from experience here. While you can’t prevent every eventual sickness, there ARE some things you can do to try to avoid that bully Bacteria and his pal Virus that you’ll be introduced to. I’m a full-on germaphobe, and these are my go-tos. I hope they’ll help you, too!
Teach your child to wash his hands
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I don’t trust my kid to appropriately wash his hands when he’s distracted by all the awesome things going on at school. We spend extra time at home washing with regular old soap and water, emphasizing length of time and thoroughness of the scrub (I realize this makes me sound insane).
Sanitize hands when you leave school
We keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in the car and sanitize as soon as we get buckled it. Did you know regular hand sanitizer doesn’t kill the norovirus (stomach bug)? You’ll need this kind if you want to avoid a bug. Most days, my son needs to use the potty when we get home from school so we wash his hands with soap and water then, too.
Change clothes when you get home from school
My son knows to take off his “school clothes” before he can play at home. This is my way of stopping the preschool germs at the front door. I don’t make it a big deal, as to not make him neurotic about it, but I do enforce it. Usually his clothes are dirty or covered in finger paint anyway.
Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water
Another no-brainer. My kids also take a multi-vitamin and a probiotic daily for extra protection.
Stock your medicine cabinet
You’ll inevitably get hit with a monster virus within the first few weeks of school. Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with the essentials to ride out a family-wide sickness. I keep a bucket with throw-up essentials in it in my linen closet. Rubber gloves, towels, etc. This might sound extreme, but trust me, you’ll be glad you set yourself up for success!
Preschool really is a special time. Don’t get too stressed! March through May are usually healthier months, so there will be at least two enjoyable months this school year. Good luck!