People often ask me what the hardest thing is about raising a big family.
Aside from the sheer busyness of managing four little people’s lives, and keeping on top of the washing (an empty laundry basket is about as rare as a lunar eclipse!) the biggest challenge is keeping everyone well.
Last year we spent more time at the doctors than we did at the shoe shop. Which is to say a lot – as any parent knows, kids’ feet grow at an alarming speed!
Last winter we seemed to be perpetually sick. My youngest would bring germs home from childcare (a melting pot for infections) and sprinkle those germs around like confetti. We were hit with recurrent ear, nose and throat infections (yes, plural) and lingering tummy bugs. It was a nightmare.
When one went down, we all toppled like dominoes and inevitably I would hit the deck too.
So, during these winter months, I have taken all measures to support the family’s immunity and keep everyone protected as much as I can.
Here are couple of the things we’ve been doing in our household to avoid last year’s tumble-down effect:
1. Sneaking in a few immunity-supporting foods.
We all know that a good diet is essential for good health. It’s a no brainer, really. But getting kids to eat healthy food can be a challenge. I have found that instead of telling my kids to eat healthy foods, explaining to them why it is important has more of an impact.
I am forever banging on about “brain food” and consequently my girls have developed quite the taste for oily fish. They frequently request sardines in their sandwiches and even anchovies on pizza.
My youngest, however, is incredibly fussy with food, so adopting an educational stance doesn’t work. Instead, I sneak immune-supporting foods into her diet as I find the “disguise and deceive” approach works best with toddler. A handful of kale in her smoothie and she’s none the wiser!
I am also conscious of minimising the amount of sugar the kids consume, especially “hidden” sugars that aren’t naturally occurring in food. We have dedicated SFDs (Sugar-Free Days) and allow for small treats occasionally.
When the kids do get sick, they don’t feel like eating much. On these occasions I feed the older ones miso soup and the younger ones home-made hummus. The garlic in the hummus is great, as some studies have shown it may help make you less prone to catching a cold. And even when my kids aren’t well they can usually manage dipping a carrot stick into hummus. Plus, it’s super easy to make.
2. Hand washing. A lot of it.
We are pretty strict in our household about washing our hands well and often, especially before eating or preparing food. This is one the best ways to keep kids well and prevent the spreading of germs.