How can parents survive 21st century family life without taking the odd shortcut? Takeaway for dinner, perhaps? Or a school uniform reclaimed from the dirty clothes basket from time to time? Hand-washing, though, is one thing that should never be overlooked.
The risk of days lost to school or work through illness is reason enough to be fastidious about hand-washing, for even the busiest families (especially those!). Just Another Mother blogger, Rowena Newman, explains…
The problem with Gen Y is that they didn’t live through the 1989 craze for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. For me it holds some “excellent” principles to apply to my life, my work and my parenting.
Thanks to Bill and Ted I use the word “heinous” to describe traffic jams and meal-times. When I can’t remember what official names I gave them, I call my son and my daughter “Dude”.
But, for me, the most excellent revelation of the 1989 film is that there is no such thing as a shortcut, because, if it really was a shortcut, then it would be “The Way.”
So, back to my current reality. Keanu has disappeared from our lives and, ever since my son was born in 2007, my life has become heinous.
It’s not his fault, of course, it’s just the whole working mother thing. Nowadays everyone I encounter is called “Dude” and some days just never quite make it to “excellent”.
If you’re like me (and, for your sake, let’s hope sans bad-hair days) you will always be racing around, dragging squabbling or overly excitable children yelling “Mummy!” every few seconds, with a perpetual nagging anxiety about what to cook for dinner and always, ALWAYS with one eye on your watch.
If you were to randomly ask me the time, I could tell you. Ask me what the date is, and I have absolutely no idea.
These days, time is of the essence. Work deadlines, various appointments, school and childcare pick-ups, the dentist, the doctor, shopping, and the grind of having to come up with family meal solutions each and every single (excellent) day…ugh… the time pressure is endless and relentless. And as time gets squeezed, shortcuts start to creep in.
So recently I took some time out to take stock of my shortcuts. And please banish any images of health spas; when I say “time out” I am referring to my hour long bumper-to-bumper commute to work.
I figure that some of the shortcuts are OK because they have become “The Way”. Making cakes and cupcakes from a packet. Microwave packets of frozen vegetables. Opaque tights instead of leg-waxing.
But some of the shortcuts are just not OK. I have to confess that in our house, one of the things that has started to slide is proper hand-washing. Yes, it’s true. My children may in fact have – gulp – grubby hands.
Now before you judge me to be a grub – although I know some of you already have – just try to remember the last time you properly washed your hands? Bogus!
Come on, not bogus, but really washed? With soap. And for longer than four seconds? And how often? Just after you’ve ‘helped’ your toilet-training toddler? Maybe not be as frequently as you should, right Dudes?
Now, I can hear many of you out there leaping to my defense saying, Aren’t some germs meant to be good for you? Don’t they build up immunity? Yes and yes. A little bit of grubbiness can be a good thing.
But there are trillions of different germs out there and many of them are the really bad, don’t-mess-with-me-in-a-dark-alley-type germs that you want to keep away from your family. Gastro, ‘flu and hepatitis
A can all be spread via, you guessed it, hands. And we all know what a short trip it is from our hands to our mouths (where are your hands right now?).
So, if you were already agreeing that life can be heinous, just wait until you have a household literally ‘heaving’ with rotavirus.
The good news for busy families is that hand-to-hand-combat can be rectified in only twenty seconds. Hooray! Sound the trumpets!
So here’s the how-to-guide for proper hand washing and germ reduction – with no shortcuts:
- wet hands in warm water
- use soap to lather all around hands, between fingers, under fingernails and front and backs of hands (note: easy on the soap-pumping kids, it’s lather quality not quantity)
- wash for 15 to 20 seconds
- rinse thoroughly
- dry thoroughly.
And that’s it! And if we do the sums – always after using the toilet, before eating, after patting animals, before preparing food, after the gym, or changing nappies – it all adds up to something like a couple of minutes a day!
Easy peasy. Even I can find room for that in the schedule. And it might even prevent a few kid colds and tummy bugs this year. Now you’re speaking my language.
So, despite how busy it gets, I’m going to avoid the bogus hand-washing shortcuts from now on.
Cue Bill and Ted: “Excellent!”
Rowena- Just Another Mother