Man SneezingCredit: Hollster

School is officially in session…and so are the lovely germs our adorable children bring home to share! Oh, Yes! It’s that time of year again; the time of year when your kids go back to school and bring home every illness under the sun. Some of the most common back to school illnesses include, but are not limited to: colds, flu, pink eye, stomach flu, and strep throat[1]. To add to the germ-y madness, many of us are also cramped in a tight little cubicle farm at work where we share more than just work during the cold and flu season. There’s always that guy in the cubicle next to you at work, coughing and hacking without covering his mouth; then he hands you paperwork or wants to talk to you in your cube in between coughs and nose-blowing while you slowly exhale to avoid breathing in the cough and sneeze particulates…ugh!

 If you have a larger family, like I do, the flu, common cold, respiratory, and stomach viruses like to make their rounds…again and again and again. By the time one family member gets over the bug, the next person gets it. Once everyone has had the same bug, it mutates and makes the rounds again while everyone’s immune systems are still down! 

To make things even more germ-tastic, school policies tend discourage absences for any reason and make it very difficult for kids to make up any missed work; especially high schools. Because of this, my kids, along with many other kids I know, go to school sick because it’s much easier to drag your achy, miserable self through that day than it is to try to make up missed work; this facilitates the spread of illnesses across the schools and into our homes. One of the main reasons I love summer vacation is due to the fact that we all get a long break from illnesses…it’s wonderful!

After one particularly bad year of illness after illness, I decided to take action. Please note that I am not a medical professional and what works for my family may not work for your family. Nonetheless, in addition to taking extra vitamins, breathing out when people sneeze near us, and drinking hot lemon tea, I’d like to share some simple prevention tips that have worked really well for us. As the old saying by Benjamin Franklin goes, "an ounce of prevention if worth a pound of cure".

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My favorite Emergen-C flavor.

1. Wash / Sanitize Hands Immediately After Coming Home from School or Work

Hand WashingCredit: HollsterThis can’t be stressed enough. Kids touch everything and everyone; the younger they are, the more they touch. As soon as your children walk in the door, have them wash their hands. If you have a little table by the entry way of your home, keep a bottle of anti-bacterial gel on it so you all use it as soon as you walk in the door. This, alone, made a drastic improvement to our health during the school year! 

I, personally, am not a big fan of commercial hand sanitizers, so I make a homemade one as follows, from a recipe I adapted by DIY Natural:


  • 5-10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 30 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1 Tablespoon witch hazel
  • 8 ounces 100% pure aloe vera gel
  • ¼ teaspoon Vitamin E oil  


Add essential oils and Vitamin E oil to a small glass container and mix. Add witch hazel to the oils and mix again. Add this mixture to the aloe vera gel and mix well. Add this to a hand soap pump. You can reuse an empty one or buy a cheap one at your local dollar store. Shake gently before each use. (Sanitizer should last several months with the addition of Vitamin E to help preserve.)[2]’

EO Hand Sanitizer Gel, Lavender, 32 oz
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2. Go To Bed Early

BedCredit: HollsterI know this seems like a no-brainer, but this one is a biggie! According to the Mayo Clinic, “[s]tudies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus.” So have your kids check their media devices in with you at bedtime or simply put a timer on your home router to automatically shut down the internet at a certain time every night. The Mayo Clinic advises the
following hours of sleep per night for optimal illness-fighting benefits, listed by age group:

  • Adults: 7 to 8 hours
  • Teens: 9 to 10 hours
  • Children: 10 or more hours [3] 

3. Work Out Regularly & Drink Lots of Water

You don’t have to kill yourself with cardio or weights; you just need to move enough to sweat, glisten, or glow a few times per week. Take a family stroll, bike on a local trail, or play a little basketball or tag outside (or hide and seek inside). I know that introducing even light cardio (like jogging) into my daily routine has made a huge difference for me, personally, in whether or not I get sick. Medline Plus indicates that exercise may help bolster your immune system in the following ways:

  • ‘May help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways, possibly reducing your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other airborne illness.
  • Exercise causes antibodies or white blood cells to circulate more rapidly, possibly detecting some illnesses earlier than they might have before.
  • The brief rise in body temperature during and immediately after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection more effectively.
  •  Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones, which, in turn, may protect against illness[4].’
Turbofire Deluxe Workout DVD
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My favorite workout program. Super fun and do-able.

4. Routinely Wipe Down Door Knobs, Light Switches, and Cell Phones with a Disinfectant

Sanitizer IngredientsCredit: HollsterI use 5-6 drops of lavender oil with 2 Tbsp vinegar and ½ cup water. Shake it up in a spray bottle, spray away, and wipe off all of those germs! You can also attack other obvious high-traffic places, such as: the refrigerator handles; cabinet and drawer handles; TV remotes; the car steering wheel; computer key board and mouse; and any other community / public property. 


5. Eat Lots of Homemade Soups Loaded with Veggies

Homemade chicken soupCredit: HollsterThere’s just something about homemade soups…they’re not only great for fighting virus if you have one, but they’re great at preventing them too! Make your favorite soup, but double or triple the veggies that your recipes call for. If you use your food processor grater to grate the veggies, your kids won’t really be able to tell that they’re in there…the veggies sort of just melt into the broth. Or you can blend your soup, making it a bisque or gazpacho. Just remember to go crazy with the veggies.

The steam from the soup opens up the sinuses and helps clear the lungs, preventing viruses and bacteria from “brewing”. The colorful vegetables in the soups contain phytonutrients (or phytochemicals) that will help boost your immune system and ward off those evil bugs[5]

Our family favorite anti-viral soups are: chicken soup (or chicken tortilla soup), senate bean soup (a.k.a. navy bean soup), a good hearty crock pot chili, black bean salsa soup, and beef stew. None of our staple soups have dairy or gluten in them; leaving out dairy and gluten will minimize inflammatory responses from your immune system too. 

I wish your cold and flu season the healthiest season ever!