Preventing the Common Cold


It’s no coincidence that the school year and the common cold season start about the same time. Schools provide an ideal setting for spreading germs, with children indoors and in close contact for much of the day. As infected people sniffle, sneeze, and cough, cold viruses spread through the air and onto skin and surfaces like tables, doorknobs, and stair railings, where they can live for up to two hours.

Kids bear the brunt of seasonal illnesses, typically picking up six to 10 colds a year compared with the two to four colds adults get, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The Centers for Disease Control chalks up 22 million school absences each year to colds alone. The good news is that kids can greatly reduce their risk of getting or spreading a cold with healthy habits and good hygiene. These include:

  • Washing hands thoroughly
  • Coughing and sneezing into a tissue or sleeve, not into hands
  • Not sharing drinks or food utensils
  • Not rubbing one’s nose and eyes
  • Not biting fingernails or chewing on pencils

One of the main ways people catch colds is by rubbing their eyes or nose after touching a person or object with a cold virus. Hand-washing can help ward off the common cold and many other communicable illnesses; however, most people don’t wash their hands well enough or often enough.

The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds, or long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. When you’re not near hand-washing facilities, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can do the trick. Younger kids may be tempted to taste the hand sanitizer, which can spread more germs and could make them sick. To prevent this, teach kids to rub their hands together until the sanitizer dries.

Although many of us were taught to cover our mouths or noses with our hands when we cough or sneeze, health experts now say that this can spread germs even faster. The CDC recommends coughing or sneezing into a tissue, or into your sleeve if a tissue is not available.

In addition to avoiding germs and washing hands, your family can stay healthier during cold season by getting sufficient sleep and exercise, drinking plenty of water, and eating a nutritious diet.


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Show Kids Why Washing Hands Is Important


You’ll need three potatoes and three clean jars with lids.

Peel the potatoes and boil them for four or five minutes—just enough time to sterilize them, not cook them.

Remove one of the potatoes from the boiling water, using tongs. Place it immediately in a jar and put the lid on. Label this, “Boiled, Not Touched.”

Set the two other potatoes on a plate so they can cool. When they are cool enough to handle, have your child pick up the potato and handle it. Pass it back and forth between you. Then put this potato in a jar labeled “Boiled, Well-Handled.”

Now have everyone wash their hands thoroughly. Pick up the third potato. Do just what you did with the second, then put it in a jar labeled, “Boiled, Well-Handled, Clean Hands.”

Let all three containers sit in a shady spot for a week or so. Each day, have your child record what she sees in each jar. Don’t be surprised if she comes to the table with clean hands…without any reminding!

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Unique Leaf Crafts for Kids


Every fall, I’m always a little late on the leaf crafts. There is such a small window where I live of when the leaves are a true rainbow array of colors, and there are so many lovely things to do with orange, yellow, green, and even brown leaves. Here are a few of my favorites from FamilyFun.


The lovely leaves above were pressed in a heavy book for about ten days (you can see how I miss the boat every year, right?) and then decorated with a metallic paint pen. How lovely would these be hanging in a float frame?(FYI, a float frame is a glass-to-glass frame that’s great for projects like this.) Flower crowns are lovely in the spring, but don’t ignore the leaves for you little woodsy prince or princess! The leaves stay in their raffia crown without glue, so when some go bad, it’s easy to swap them out.


Test your child’s scavenger skills by challenging him to create a rainbow of leaves (blue might be pushing it). Line them up on a log or even outside on the front stoop. Lay rocks on top to prevent them from blowing away. (Idea from Lisa Jordan of

 Now do you feel the urgency to get out and find those lovely leaves of orange and gold? I certainly do!

10 Ways To Help Your Child Successfully Return to School

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During your children’s school career, there will be many new beginnings they’ll have to face. From those first anxious moments when they wave goodbye to you from the preschool door to when they enter the hallways of a new middle or high school as awkward teenagers, change and resiliency will be key factors in how they handle the stress of any new chapter.

Here are 10 ways you can help your child have a smooth return to school and start the new school year on a positive note.

1. Chat with your child. Keeping an open line of communication is important. Encourage your child to talk about any feelings he is experiencing. Remember that change is stressful not only for you but for your child, as well. He may need to vent those feelings; be patient during this time. Let him know that these feelings are normal. “Be patient—adjustment time for every kid is different,” says Shore, adding that “it will take three to four weeks for most kids to start to feel comfortable.”

2. Create a sense of community. Feeling a part of things is important for children at every age. You can help by providing chances for your child to make new friends. “Your children will feel more comfortable going to school if they know at least one other student in their class,” Shore says. “If you move during the summer, find out the names of children who live nearby and are the same age as your children. Put aside social inhibition and try to arrange some play dates so your children can meet those children,” Shore says. “The social connections will be important in your child’s overall adjustment to school.”

3. New school? Keep the old friends, too. If your child is starting at a new school, parents can help bridge the emotional gap between making new friends and leaving a familiar circle of friends by encouraging kids to keep in touch. This is particularly important for middle and high school children. “This age group places a great importance on their friends and consequently the transition can be harder,” Shore says. “Helping them make and keep those connections is important.” He adds that it’s easy today for kids to stay in touch with friends from other communities thanks to cell phones, Internet phone calling, and social media. “This can help a lot,” he says.

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Baby’s first nappy change: But should you be sharing it on social media?

Posting your child’s every gurgle on social networks may seem like harmless fun. But, argues Johanna Thomas-Corr, some details just aren’t meant to be shared…Image

There’s nothing as ageing as a Facebook feed. You only need to log on to a timeline littered with honeymoon photos and baby snaps to know you are no longer 25. For my generation, Facebook has become an integral part of life – the first phase involved blurry snaps of drunken misdemeanours or backpacking trips; the second phase was glossy wedding pictures, but that has now given way to what looks like a more lasting phase: the Baby Era.

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How To Raise Justice-Minded Kids


1. Embrace the idea of a justice-minded child. Wise parents give significant thought to what type of person they are raising. They make their choices intentionally. And then they strategically steer their children down that road. In the same way, raising a justice-minded child begins with a decision to raise a justice-minded child. This first step is absolutely essential and can not be overstated. Giving up your privilege for the rights of others is a counter-cultural mindset. It will not be found until is deliberately sought.

2. Exemplify a justice-minded life for your child. Our children are watching. They are noticing our lives. And our actions speak a thousand times louder than our words. Simply put, if our children don’t see us model a concern for social justice in our own life, they are not going to care about it either – and it would be unreasonable to assume they would. On the other hand, if they see us model social justice, compassion, and service on a regular basis, they are going to realize the importance of it. So offer to make a meal for the family of an unemployed friend, buy extra Christmas gifts for the orphan, take a stand against corporations that exploit children, and speak up for those without a voice. Your son or daughter will notice… they always do.

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