Germaphobe Parenthood— Mommy Daze

Is anyone else freaking out about all these illnesses our kids are coming down with? I honestly was oblivious to it all before having children. I never even used to get the flu shot. The only can of Lysol I owned was probably the one my mother gave me when I went away to college. But since having my own children, I’ve become a hand-sanitizer-wielding, Clorox-wiping, germaphobe. Cause let’s be real, when your kids get sick, it’s no picnic.

ThinkstockPhotos 473308480My kids had their share of ear infections and random colds as toddlers, but the real fun stuff started when they entered the school system. I remember when my oldest son started preschool and within a month had contracted Hand Food and Mouth disease. He then graciously shared it with his little brother who then vomited all over my face. Worst – Day – Ever. Of course, I then got it. Thought I was going to die. Worse than child birth. We are all very grateful my husband was the sole survivor of that epidemic and was able to get our family through it in one piece. We all shudder in remembrance of it.

Since then, it’s been a whirlwind three years of strep throat, flu, pinkeye, and stomach viruses. We’re actually very lucky that worse illnesses haven’t found their way to our house yet, such as my friends who’ve nursed their kids through whooping cough, croup, and bronchitis. And it seems like every year the media scares parents to death with ‘new’ influenza reports. Like I’m not paranoid enough, now I’m supposed to worry about my kid catching the ‘other’ flu? All the medical offices we go to have masks available at the front desk for anyone who might have flu symptoms. I am honestly reconsidering taking my son for his regular ‘well-child’ check-up because I don’t want to enter into that petri-dish of a doctor’s office.

But what’s a parent to do? Apparently, I can’t put a bubble around my kids (believe me, I checked Amazon). They know to wash their hands diligently, but goodness knows I’ve seen the booger-factories that are their classrooms. I applauded my oldest son’s Kindergarten teacher who at the beginning of the school year taught the kids to use a paper towel every time they opened and closed the bathroom door. She even gives extra ‘points’ to the kids who remember to do it. Genius.

So do we just avoid going anywhere that germs may be present? Obviously, we can’t avoid school, though honestly home-schooling is looking more and more appealing. But it’s winter, the kids are bored inside, stir crazy! But every time I think of taking them to an activity somewhere that other children are going to be, I start hyperventilating. We spent a frigid Saturday afternoon at the Science Center in Baltimore and I may have gone through an entire bottle of hand sanitizer.

But at the end of the day, whether I’ve spent all of it cleaning up vomit or snuggling with healthy kiddos, I try not to stress about the plague that might be waiting for us tomorrow. Germs are a way of life. I remind myself that generations of parents before me have raised their children through worse situations. So for now, I’ll try to keep updated on all the home-made immune-system boosting remedies like grape juice cleanses and apple cider vinegar (seriously whose kid actually drinks that??) and making sure my kids are as clean as I can possibly keep them. And if anyone hears of a child-sized bubble for sale on Amazon, let me know.

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Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 5-year-old James and 3-year-old Luke.