Parents & Childhood Illness Prevention

A new poll has found that nearly half of parents have stated that their children have already experienced illnesses this 2022-2023 school year.* According to 

64% who were polled state that they are somewhat worried about their children getting sick, 14% vocalizing significant worry.*

48% have already been sick with various illnesses.*

Parents have experiences their fair share of challenges over the past 2-3 years as a result of the pandemic. Not only are parents navigating school safety concerns, they are also doing their best to optimize family wellness by adopting different preventive health measures. As parents who are already dealing with other concurrent stressors, what precautions can we take to help mitigate and prevent the spread of illnesses?

Practicing hand hygiene with frequent handwashing: according to CDC, keeping hands clean with handwashing can help to prevent 1 in 3 diarrheal illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory illnesses.**

Here are some key opportunities to wash hands**: 

  1. Before & after food preparation & eating
  2. Washing before & after caring for a friend / loved one that is ill
  3. Before & after wound care- cuts, scrapes, or other more involved wound care.
  4. After using the restroom and / or changing a soiled diaper
  5. After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing- this is a great habit to cultivate at home in order to strengthen that practice at school.
  6. After touching animals, handling pet food, or animal excrement
  7. After handling garbage and waste materials

Optimizing our sleep hygiene- sleep is a crucial part of our own wellbeing and overall function. Children and adolescents who lack enough sleep are at higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, poor mental health and attention/ behavioral issues.** It can also impact their academic performance due to lack of attention.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following: 

Children ages 6–12 years: 9 - 12 hours per 24 hours

For 13–18 years of age: 8 - 10 hours per 24 hours

What else can we do to optimize our sleep health? Avoiding blue light exposure before bed- everyone has different opinions on the specific amount of time before bed (I personally try to avoid it at least 1 hour before bedtime). Keep you room cool, dark, and quiet like a cave- this is something I learned from Dr. Shelby Harris on Instagram. Some other things we can do before bedtime: read a paperback book, avoid alcohol at least 4 hours before bed, and avoid caffeine roughly 6 hours before bedtime.

Staying up-to-date with preventive health measures as advised by your healthcare team. If you have any specific questions on vaccines, please connect with your healthcare team to discuss. If you want more information on immunization schedules per CDC, check out:

Eating nutrient-dense foods and healthy options as much as possible. I know Halloween is around the corner and I am a reasonable human… balance is key! Here are some ways to eat healthy while also on a budget

Batch you meals and plan your recipes based on seasonal ingredients. What can you buy that is local, easy to store, and cost-effective? Be creative when making your own recipes and keep it simple.

Look at labels: do you notice any words or preservatives that you are unfamiliar with? You can do some investigating and look them up online. You'd be surprised at how many prepared foods & condiments have unfamiliar preservatives, gums, and additives.

Limit added sugars when possible- what other options can you add for sweetness? Berries and other fruits are great alternatives.

Think about fiber intake! Fiber is so important for digestive / bowel health. What can you integrate into family meals? Consider beans, grains (like bulgur, barley, and oat bran), broccoli, carrots, green peas, apples, etc. There are lots of healthy options!

Maintaining some sort of physical activity on a routine basis: (before doing any exercises, please consult your healthcare team to determine what is safe, effective, and advised for you!)

Personally, I diversify my physical activity to keep it fun and the variety allows me to target different muscles groups. Here are some of my favorite exercise activities: 

HIIT workouts: this exercise is a form of interval training which involves quick bursts of high-intensity exercise with intermittent intervals of rest / lower intensity exercise.

Kettlebell workouts: this piece of equipment looks like a bell and varies in heaviness. Integrating kettlebell exercises into your workouts can help to strengthen your core, increase overall strength, and increase power endurance.

Barre workouts: a great way to improve posture and alignment, lean & tone muscles, while improving balance. This is one of my absolute favorites and it's an exercise routine that I find truly humbling!

Treadmill: a great one for cardiac health and pretty self-explanatory. You can walk, increase the incline to boost your heart rate, or can vary the speed and intensity as you prefer.

Rowing machine: total body workout that also allows you some time to practice meditation as it is (or can be) a repetitive motion activity. If you are looking to obtain a full body workout, it's a nice alternative to using a treadmill or an elliptical and it's great for all fitness levels.

Limiting snack sharing / sharing of drinks if and when possible. 

This can be a tricky one for kids! ini order to reduce the spread of illnesses, try to be mindful of snack sharing and discuss the rationale at home. As mentioned above, continuing to practice regular hand hygiene also helps to mitigate the spread of illnesses.

Staying home when we are sick

This is a BIG one. I know that it can be difficult to miss a work day if either you or your child(ren) is sick. In order to prevent illnesses from spreading, it's important to maintain good hand hygiene and to stay home when you are not feeling well. Check with your employer about their sick leave policies and flexible work options in the event of personal / family illness. CDC has some great resources on how to handle Influenza as an Employee

We can also practice some stress reduction measures in order to keep our stress levels low (which can also benefit our immune systems). This practice looks different for everyone!  

What else would you add here?

#childhoodillness #familyhealth #familywellness #healthykid #healthyparents #healthykidscommunity #healthyparenting #parentalburnout #childillness #parenthealth #burnout 

Follow the community here on @runtellmom and also @parentsuitcase resource hubs for parental wellbeing, parent advocacy, and resources for parents.

Sources:, CDC, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, SleepFoundation.oorg