Winter is coming. Cue: chunky woollen knits, warm mulled wine and hearty meals to eat fireside.
Oh wait, that’s right. I’m a mum so the baby’s vomited on my (dry clean only) chunky knit and the 3-year-old’s knocked over my mulled wine as she makes a beeline for that deathtrap of an open fire.
The parenting reality check: the colder season really means snot and winter sickness coming in thick and fast.
And the only thing coming thicker than all that paediatric phlegm is unsolicited parenting advice and unsubstantiated medical myths.
Let's dive into some of my favourite fictions and – in the spirit of the winter solstice – five tips that always really help my family cope with winter sickness:
Myth: “Daycare kids are sick all winter.”
The reality: Look, it’s not untrue... but realistically if we were going to pull the kids out of daycare for this reason it would only work if we cut ourselves off from all other children all winter. No playing in the park, no library, no play dates. And then after all that, I’d just turn around and find my 3-year-old licking the checkout counter at Kmart.
What actually helps: We can’t avoid daycare germs but there are some basic things I try (keyword try) to do to help stop the spread once we get home. I keep their nails short, as long nails are a perfect harbour for bacteria. I wash sleeping bags and blankies on return from daycare. Bath and hair wash every daycare night is an easy win, and even as far as no playing in the bedrooms or beds before this happens, just to be extra safe. We practice regular hand washing, sanitising and wiping; and we’re working on sneezing into elbows. Might have this one in the bag by winter 2022.
Myth: “Insist that your GP gives you antibiotics, it’s the only thing to beat a nasty cold.”
The reality: Colds are caused by viruses, so they aren't treatable with antibiotics, which only kill bacteria. Important one to remember.
What actually helps: Just because you can’t use antibiotics to cure a cold, doesn’t mean you can’t treat the symptoms to give everyone relief and a semi-decent sleep (very important for the adults in my household). Sleep is medicine.
But also... medicine is medicine. Little Coughs is a super nice tasting cough syrup (this exists!) specially developed for the temporary soothing relief of coughs and chesty congestion from a cold. When colds rear their ugly head in our house, this is the one I always grab for us to ease the full brunt of those symptoms.
It has extract of ivy leaf in it, which is a herbal remedy that gives soothing relief of chesty coughs, particularly handy when we're all sleeping in rooms next to each other. To reiterate: uninterrupted sleep is golden. (But make sure you talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using in children under 2 years).
Top tip for giving (basically any) medicine to little kids is: DO IT IN THE BATH. No matter how tasty the treatment, my girls will wriggle, blow bubbles, spit, try to grab the syringe, put their fingers in their mouth... all of the above. This way I’m in the right place to wash them (and me) off.
The Little Coughs syrup comes in 2 flavours (each of my girls have a different favourite: the little one prefers the original, and the 3-year-old MUST have the raspberry). They've got no added gluten, wheat or lactose too which is a good-to-know measure especially for our youngest daughter, as we're figuring out as we go if she has any allergies.