WHAT THE PARENTING BOOKS DON'T TELL YOU: How Not To Get Sick When Your Kids Are Sick

Children carry illness home from daycare like rats carry the plague, but you don't have to give in to it. No, you don't have to give in.
Publish date:
November 5, 2013
parenting, what the parenting books don't tell you, colds, flu, sickness, illnesses, garlic

If you have been around children for any length of time, you know that if they are in daycare, they carry sickness like rats carry the plague.

Okay, maybe the rat/plague comparison is harsh. But kids are pretty gross. And daycare centers and schools are notorious for winter illnesses that spread like crazy.

The great news, if you have a toddler or younger child, is that as kids get older, they get sick less often. So there's that to look forward to. At least, mine gets sick less often -- I’d like to credit all the times I yelled “don’t touch anything!” at him in a public restroom, but really it’s probably due to his more mature immune system.

But still, he is sick right now. When his dad dropped him off at my house this weekend, he mentioned that Oliver had a “little bit of a cough at night.” But it soon became apparent that the cough was not just at night, but all. Dang. Day.

The good news: it’s probably just a cold. The bad news: there is a good chance I could end up sharing it. Some other news: Jeff and I are going out of town for my birthday this coming weekend, and neither of us wants to be sick for that.

I’ve certainly been the recipient of an illness or two from my kid, but for the most part, I can avoid whatever he happens to have. Except, in the dramedy that is my life, I just know that the one time I catch his cold will be when I have a two-day, grown-ups-only vacation planned.

My grandma, aunt, and mother all claim there is something called “mommy immunity” that prevents moms from getting sick. It’s pure mind over matter: when you know you have a sick child to take care of, you cannot afford to be sick yourself. For the most part, I’ve found this to be true, and I’ve talked myself out of many an illness.

But I also probably have a good immune system, practice good habits, and have great luck.

So now that illness has struck my home, here’s what I’m desperately doing to avoid being sick:


This is the number one way I prevent any sort of illness. I wash my hands after using the bathroom, before preparing food, before eating, and after returning to my house from someplace “public,” like the grocery store (three words: shopping cart handles). When Oliver is sick, I also wash my paws after I touch anything he touched, like snotty tissues. For the record, I am pro-soap and anti-hand sanitizer. We don't use anti-bacterial soap in our house, either.


I eat a lot of it, and I put it in nearly everything I cook. I’m probably one of those people who walks around stinking of garlic, but I don’t even care. I love it, AND I’ve read that it has anti-viral properties. And there are few things that open up the sinuses like raw garlic.

In fact, if you feel something coming on, you can make garlic tea: use a fork to mash a garlic clove in a teacup and let it sit for a few minutes, then pour boiling water over the clove and let it steep for 10-15 minutes. Then drink it! If you love garlic, this should be no problem. If you hate garlic, I hear you can add a squeeze of lemon or some honey to it. At the end, I recommend you eat that mashed garlic clove on a cracker. Warning: you will probably smell like garlic for a few hours to one day after.

Lay off the sugar, increase the vegetables

When Oliver is sick, I decrease my sugar intake and eat more green vegetables. For example, I am not stealing Oliver’s Halloween candy as I typically would.

Take vitamins, for a change

I have a multi-vitamin, fish oil, B-vitamins/folic acid, Vitamin D, and Vitamin C -- all of which I almost never remember to take, until Oliver is sick with something.

Coconut oil

Delicious, full of medium-chain fatty acids, and gives a boost of energy if I start to feel a little off. I don’t know about you all, but sometimes I can power through and fight off a cold if I just refuse to give in and keep my energy up.

Extra sleep

Hahaha, just kidding, I will spend every night this week lying awake, listening to my kid cough and worrying about him.

Speaking of coughing, Oliver is on the sofa next to me as I type this, and he just coughed into his elbow instead of all over the living room. I’m so proud.

Has sickness entered your house? Do you have any tips for warding off a cold? Is this "mommy immunity" stuff total B.S. or are you buying it? Are there any other supplements I should take right now to ensure Jeff and I can have a romantic grown-up weekend in the Bay Area without sneezing all over each other?

Somer is on Twitter: @somersherwood