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How clean are you?

How clean are you?

Be it household related or personal hygiene related, we all face the task of cleaning on a daily basis. Do you see it as a chore? A responsibility? Or do you secretly love cleaning? Habit and routine make cleaning and hygiene an easy and healthy part of every-day life. Children thrive in routine but it’s not always easy to teach kids good habits and persuade them to stick to them. 

The importance of a hygiene routine for children.

Teaching kids about good hygiene involves more than teaching them how to wash their hands properly. By teaching them a head to toe, healthy hygiene routine you are establishing good habits that they will continue to use for the rest of their lives. On average, it takes 66 days (more than two months) for a behavior to become an automatic habit. So, taking the time to do this as a child means that it becomes just a normal part of your daily routine as an adult. This also extends to domestic cleanliness such as food hygiene and keeping areas clean. Children often follow the example set by their parents or caregiver so seeing an adult wipe down a surface or tidy up a mess has a big impression. They also love to copy what an older sibling does, so getting the whole family involved sets a great example for small children. Instilling both good personal and domestic hygiene means less illness, fewer absences from school, and it also lessens the likelihood of bullying if they are kept clean and do not suffer from hygiene-related concerns. Routine is not just about hygiene and germ protection. It’s about creating good healthy lifestyle habits. Including regular exercise, drinking plenty of water, eating healthily, caring for a pet, reading a book, practicing mindfulness or playing an imaginative game all help children to develop in a positive way. Healthy habits are beneficial for every aspect of both the body and mind. The key is routine - by making healthy habits part of your everyday routine it becomes something easy that you don't need to think about too much. 

What are good hygiene routines for children?

Good hygiene practices don’t just help you to develop healthy habits, they have an impact on everyone around you.  They help prevent both you and others from becoming unwell with a bug or virus. This is especially important to help protect the more vulnerable members of your family such as Grandparents, or relatives living with a long term condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives us some great facts about why hygiene routines are so important. Let’s have a look at a few routines and facts below:

Good morning: A good place to start with the morning routine is a potty break, wash hands, brush teeth, and wash/shower. Why is it good for children to have a shower in the morning? Well, children under the age of 18 are most commonly affected by pinworms. Pinworms, also known as threadworms, are tiny little white worms that commonly infect children. In the US about 20% of people at one point in time develop pinworms and the percentage of under 18's with pinworms may be as high as 50% in high-risk areas. The spread of pinworms can be reduced by good hand hygiene, clipping nails, and showering in the morning after waking. Nobody wants to have to dose the whole family with pinworm medication right?

Mealtimes: A research study published in PLOS ONE discusses that the two most important behaviors for helping reduce the impact of worldwide infectious disease are hand-washing with soap, and surface cleaning. Teaching children to wash their hands before and after meals, or when helping to prepare food, helps reduce the risk of contamination. Even very young children can help to wipe down surfaces after eating and more often than not want to join in to ‘do a grown-up job’. 

Potty breaks: So, it would seem that being clean is just a responsible way of living right? It makes sense. Stay clean to stay healthy. However, (and this fact may gross you out a bit) a recent poll from YouGov shows that about four in ten Americans don't always wash their hands after going to the bathroom. Over 40%! It's true, not everyone sees good hygiene as being an important part of their daily routine. Washing hands after using the potty is a responsible habit to instill in children to help reduce the spread of germs and pinworms. In public bathrooms a touch-free tool can be used to open doors or use handles. 

At the park:You can’t get rid of germs at the park and it’s important to not let them spoil your fun. We have to live with germs and there are easy ways to stay hygienic in public places. The main thing is to teach your child not to touch their mouth, nose, or eyes when they are at the park. Try to clean hands with an alcohol-based hand gel when you arrive, and when you leave the playground. 

Swim time: The average individual swimmer contributes at least 0.14 grams of fecal material to the water, usually within the first 15 minutes of entering (eeewwww)! Showering with soap before swimming helps stop the spread of germs by removing fecal material from the body. Make sure the little ones jump in the shower and have a good wash before and after swimming. 

Bedtime: Similar to a morning routine the key elements are potty break, wash hands, wash/shower, and brush teeth. Let’s talk about teeth for a minute. Did you know that Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t? Not to mention the pain, discomfort and health problems that cavities and gum disease can bring. Kids who brush daily with fluoride toothpaste have fewer cavities - so, brush those teeth at least twice a day to make sure they stay healthy. 

Always remember to wash hands: Researchers in London estimate that if everyone routinely washed their hands, a million deaths a year could be prevented! Isn't that amazing?!! It just shows how important it is to teach kids a good hand washing technique. 

As the facts clearly show, good hygiene = good health.

Routine tips for the whole family.

Here are a few tips to build healthy habits into your everyday routine:

Practice makes perfect: Daily practice makes hygiene routines a habit. If you feel there is an area in your hygiene practice that needs improvement then focus on it until it becomes second nature. 

Set reminders or use signs: Having trouble remembering to do something? Set a reminder on your phone, set an alarm to go off in the house, or place a little sign that you see regularly. 

Use sticker charts for children: kids LOVE stickers! If they don't want to brush their teeth or help clean up after dinner then why not try a sticker chart? This can lead to a reward for good hygienic behavior or for helping with household chores. 

Treat yourself: Why not buy that luxurious bath oil you have been looking at or buy the kids a fun shampoo in a Spiderman bottle? You could even buy on a No Knob to aid you in your healthy hygiene practices. 

Do it together: Exercise, chores or mindfulness does not have to be a bore, it can be a game. Doing things like exercise, gardening, or yoga with family and friends can make it fun. It also has the added bonus of spending more time together. 

Be prepared, not scared: Carrying items such as tissues, a touch-free tool like No Knob, hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes mean you will always be prepared no matter where you are. 

What are your best healthy habits?

How do you manage to create healthy habits in your family life? Do you have any top tips to add? What are your go to items for germ protection?  It is always great to hear tips and ‘life-hacks’ that help with children and routines. 

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