My first year working in Chicago Public Schools I caught every single germ the kids brought with them to speech class. Being sick made my CF year tougher than it needed to be. I’ve learned a few things since then and I’d like to share what I do to prevent illnesses, even though I work with sick little sweeties all day long.
- Wash your hands before you eat lunch. If you’re washing your hands after you use the restroom that should be enough, right? I’ve seen many coworkers prepare their lunches and sit down and eat them without washing. Don’t eat your germs
- Change clothes immediately when you get home. When I get home, I take my clothes off and put them in the hamper. I change into what I call “loungewear,” which includes a comfy T-shirt and workout pants. I’m more comfortable and the germs that kids left on my pants after they hugged me with snotty hands are in the hamper.
- Take a shower when you get home. Admittedly, this is extreme. However, if you have an infant or immune-compromised individual at home, this will remove any remaining germs that kids may have spread to you when they sneezed all over you while attempting a new speech sound!
- Drink a hot beverage every morning. The winter I had a small baby at home and I worked full-time outside of the house, I would drink a hot herbal tea every morning in my car as I drove to work. I didn’t get sick at that entire winter – and neither did my baby. Chinese people believe you should consume hot foods during the winter and cold foods during the summer to maintain optimal yin/yang. It might sound strange, but it worked for me.
- Don’t touch your face. It seems natural to reach up and brush your hair out of your eyes or scratch your nose, but try to remain conscious about your hand movements after working with a sick kiddo. You could be transferring a germ to your face!
- Take off your shoes, leave them at the front door, and wear slippers at home. When I was a child, we had Chinese neighbors who removed their shoes before entering the house. My mom adopted that habit because she realized that whatever is on the bottom of your shoes should remain outside. Keep shoe germs at the door!
- Don’t get cold! I always thought my mom was crazy when she asked me constantly, “Are you warm enough?” Now I realize that if you go outside on a cold night (say New Year’s) and get too cold, you will get sick. It’s not that you “catch” a germ when you are out, but getting super cold lowers your immunity and a dormant virus can take hold.
- Don’t drink from the water fountain. My first year at school when I was constantly sick, I would drink from the fountain. Then I noticed that many of the young children put their whole mouth on the spigot or they pressed their faces into the top cover of the spigot. Never again! I bring all my own water into school in two reusable stainless steel bottles.