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Moms Talk Q&A: Jump Right In With Your Thoughts

Today's issue: How do you deal with flu season?

Moms Talk is a new weekly feature on Sherman Oaks Patch, in which local parents are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting issues.

Each week our Moms Council members will discuss a different issue. Join the conversation by weighing in on a topic or asking questions.  

 This week's Mom Council members include:

Linda Arbiter:  A licensed family therapist in Sherman Oaks, Linda is also the mother of three children. Linda's specialities include parenting issues, adolescent development, and anxiety issues involving children.

Michele Dahl: Michele is a freelance writer and mom to 3-year-old firecracker, Shelby, and 1-year-old sweetheart, Cash.  In between working  three jobs—not including her unpaid gig as mommy—she is a contributing writer and product reviewer for www.hollywoodmomblog.com.  

Randi Green: Randi is raising three children, ages 18, 15 and 10. She is a personal trainer, working with children as well as adults. Randi says: "I’ve dealt with the terrible 2’s, the trying tweens and the terrific/horrific teen years, and have firm opinions on it all!"

This week the conversation focuses on dealing with the flu. Linda Arbiter asks the following question and offers her view .

It’s flu season again. Schools are reporting increased absences among our children due to “flu like symptoms.”  Kids get sick, infect other kids, siblings get sick and then we, the parents, get sick.  It’s a nasty cycle. Can any of this be prevented?  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, GA, “keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.”

 Which is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.

 When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound

When my kids were younger, I would greet them at the front door after a long day at school, usher them all into the closest bathroom, help them lather their hands with soap and then sing “Happy Birthday to You.” They would laugh hysterically but they would keep the soap on their hands until the song repeated twice!  Clean hands meant fewer germs brought into our home from school and fewer missed days from school.  They are now 29, 26 and 21, and they still chuckle when they remember how “crazy” mom would make them wash their hands and sing Happy Birthday everyday after school!

Randi Green February 23, 2011 at 09:48 PM
Wish I had a fool-proof flu remedy, but seeing as I'm home today with a sick daughter (sinusitis), I realize even the best advice isn't fool-proof. I badger my kids to be vigilant about their hand washing, although often have to remind them that warm water, along with soap should be involved in this endeavor. Drinking lots of fluids, not sharing water bottles, etc. and covering up when sneezing or coughing makes me feel better. I constantly tout the benefits of neti pots and saline sprays, but my kids are not sold. Last week, in desperation of relief from congestion, I convinced my son to try the neti pot. His clogged nostrils wouldn't allow anything to pass...and the water came out of his eyeballs! So much for that!
Rose Sevilla February 23, 2011 at 11:14 PM
I have always been a bit of a germaphobe. In fact, when I was a classroom teacher, I used blue tape to outline my own personal "radius", which taught my 5th graders not only the concept of personal space, but prevented them from getting close enough to infect me with any illnesses they may have had. Being pregnant and having a baby only exacerbated this! The first time around, I was amazed by how many people would cough and sneeze without covering their mouths--especially around a visibly pregnant woman! I have absolutely no problem moving away from these people, and I came across a great little sign (made by Baby Bee Well) which has a cute little bee on it and states that my child's car seat/stroller is a "Cootie-Free Zone. I've used it for my son since he was tiny, as many strangers seemed unable to resist the urge to touch him. Now that he's a toddler, the best way we're handling prevention of colds and various strains of the flu is by advocating hand-washing. I also treat the first signs of a cold with mustard, which I know sounds strange, but apparently my grandfather used mustard in the 1920s/30s with my mom and all of her siblings. In terms of the flu, we treat dehydration with coconut water (which has many of the electrolytes that name-brand hydration drinks have). We don't do the flu shot, and tend not to rely heavily on antibacterial products, but do use homeopathic products and firmly believe in the power of rest. Much health to all of you!
Gail Annette Kay February 23, 2011 at 11:25 PM
Flu shot, cold-eeze (zinc) when it's coming on and then instead of all the home remedies, sit down and say to yourself: this will pass in 4 or 5 days and go about life as usual.
Patricia Davenport February 24, 2011 at 01:31 AM
This will pass in 4 or 5 days but if you go to work you will probably pass it around.
Michele February 24, 2011 at 06:55 AM
With my daughter starting preschool this past September, our house has been infiltrated by a steady stream of germs this year. We have gone from one illness to the next and just when I think we are out of the woods, someone starts to cough again. As important as it is, with a 3 year old and a 1 year old, hand-washing can be quite the production. If I turn my head for 2 seconds, they manage to turn my bathroom sink into a swimming pool for every miscellaneous beauty product that was on the counter. I remain diligent, though. And they are slowly starting to learn the hand-washing routine. A quick trick I like to use when on-the-go are Wet Ones. They are great antibacterial hand and face wipes that I keep in the car. They are especially useful with the little ones when we are out and about for the day - traveling to multiple places (and encountering multiple germs) with no easy way to wash our hands.
Cathy Flynn February 24, 2011 at 04:22 PM
I love the "Happy Birthday to You" tip, Linda. With my 4-year old son, maybe we'll try his favorite song: "Baa baa black sheep have you any farts."
Leonor Diaz February 24, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Leonor With two girls, now teenagers, I still ask them: Did you wash your hands?, I will leave their answer up to your imagination! :), by using the Happy Birthday song when they were little, definetly got stuck, they may sing something else now, but for sure they did keep the habit!!!
Jane M February 24, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Ditto on the excellent idea of singing Happy Birthday on the Hand Washing Linda- lately half the kids in my daughters class have been out on any given day with the flu! Jane Macfie
Mou February 24, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Thanks for the info Linda!!
Lisa Marie Hilke February 25, 2011 at 12:22 AM
This is my 1st flu season with my 2.4 year old. He got the shots, my husband and I eschewed them, and guess who became ill. I am lucky - my son hums the Nick Jr. hand washing song: "Top and bottom, top and bottom,/in between, in between/rub them both together, rub them both together/now they're clean" to the "Frere Jacques" tune. At tleast I think that's how it goes. Anyway, my son does not like "goopy" hands (his term) so he frequently requests help washing them. And I get him to wash up before dinner, and at various times during the day, no matter what. It's simply an important basic hygienic habit to pass on.
Susan G February 25, 2011 at 12:24 AM
Ms Arbiter - I think it's great that a therapist is participating in this community newsletter. How might therapy work to treat an adolescent with anxiety and/or addiction problems?
Laura Cohen February 25, 2011 at 02:56 AM
"Singing Happy Birthday" is so much better than counting to 2o. If you can make your child laugh, it's a perfect NATURAL reinforcement. Great suggestion! One issue, children/teens face is with sharing brushes. It's hard to say "NO" to a friend. Saying "YES" may mean being gifted with LICE. So even if the brushes stay at home to avoid contact at school, what happens when a friend is over and asks to use it?
Michele Dahl February 25, 2011 at 03:41 AM
Haha, my daughter's been singing, "the weiners on the bus.." lately. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who has to listen to the strange songs of a preschooler!
Cathy Flynn February 25, 2011 at 06:38 AM
I usually stock up on hairbrushes and toothbrushes at the 99 Cents Only store, so if sleepover friends don't't bring theirs, I have extras. The kids are always amazed that they actually get to keep them. I insist. It's so much cheaper & less stressful than lice and the flu.
Jenny Kane March 13, 2011 at 12:40 AM
I don't have children, but I am a Godmother and an Aunt and about to be a Godmother again. It's always good to have information sites such as this. Thanks for the good advice ladies. :-)

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