My first child was born in late September, going right into the germy winter season. Of course, as a first-time mom with an infant, I did my very best to avoid illness, wash my hands, visit germy places infrequently and used my share of hand sanitizer on my own hands and on visitors’ hands prior to passing off my new little angel.
Then came my second child, born in the spring. The combination of the time of year she was born, and the fact that I now have two children has changed my view on things. While I will always be a bit germ-conscious, washing my hands probably more than the average bear, I have definitely loosened the reins on my constant quest to kill germs. If you wash your hands as needed, you kill enough germs.
We have continuous exposure to other children and their sicknesses, and I think that is a good thing. We visit bounce houses, play lands and all of the other public places that are swarming with children, so also with germs. Yes, we have been known to leave when an obviously-too-sick-to-be-in-public kid is hacking up a storm. But for the most part, we just chalk it up to the fact that their little immune systems are going to get exposed eventually, so why not now?
We do not use shopping cart covers (although I did buy a used one- it was bought primarily for the purpose of keeping my youngest from toppling over in the high chair at restaurants when she wasn’t a very solid sitter). We put food directly on tables of restaurants. At home, our children even eat off the floor. Am I serious? Yes.
We have a two-year-old little boy. For meals, we sit at the table 100% of the time. But the times we eat snacks like cheerios or crackers, I give the kids child-size bowls and they can eat in our family room or finished lower level. Both kids dump the bowls immediately onto our carpet and commence to snack on their food from the floor. Guess what? I don’t care. The only time I mind is when I wind up with a sticky Cheerio on the bottom of my sock.
We also don’t avoid friends who have children with colds, and they are always welcome at our home. We try to make sure we are conscious of other people, so we do our part in letting others know that WE may be contagious before just showing up with snotty noses in case they prefer to not be exposed. If we avoided people every single time we had a snotty nose, I don’t think we would ever leave our home.
In a time when so many people are germa-phobes, and some of the illnesses that go around are more dangerous and scary than ever, I find myself becoming less of one. If you know me personally, I have always been quite conscious about cleanliness. But I guess when you add two small children into the mix, you become a little more relaxed. You have to in order to keep your serenity! I totally agree when people keep small babies inside when a sickness can really get them down. But a few germs here and there are actually good for you! In fact, I think the search for an excessively sterile environment may be potentially worse that its alternative.
How do you feel about germs and letting your children be exposed? Do you think our culture has become obsessive when it comes to using hand sanitizer?
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