Handwashing Help

I’m not sure if we’re being exposed to unfamiliar germs, or if it’s just been a harsh winter, but at least one member of the family has been sick since we arrived in France. Most recently, we enjoyed a round of pink eye, which kept Olive home from a field trip to the ocean, and Oscar home from a Carnavale parade. Being sick is such a bummer!

To keep further sickness at bay, I’ve decided we need to step up the handwashing at Maison Blair. So I’ve been searching for ideas to encourage good hand washing habits. Here are three we’ve recently implemented:

1) We make hand-washing part of a few simple “routine reminders” I say throughout the day. For example, in the morning, I ask each child to remember their “hands, teeth, hair”. After school, I say “backpack, hands, snack”.

2) We sing a song while we wash, and we don’t rinse till the end of the song — so that we know we’ve washed long enough. (The ABC song is just the right length.)

3) We ask the kids to pick out the handsoap at the store (we use pump vs. bar because it seems to be easier for little hands to deal with). If they pick it out, they are more excited to use it.

How about you? Any hand washing tips that work at your house?


44 thoughts on “Handwashing Help”

  1. So sorry you’ve been fighting off some nasty germs lately! I just had to smile when I read “Hands, teeth, hair!” because I say that to my kids every morning and heard it in my own voice. I prefer liquid soaps, too, because they reduce the mess and plan to give the new Method a try. (Mmmm… lemon.)

  2. It could very well be unfamiliar germs/disease strains. When I first moved to the US from Norway, I caught absolutely EVERYTHING that BYU campus had to offer. The first few months were hard, but it improved quickly. Feel better, Blairs!

  3. No handwashing tips, but I’ve heard having kids change clothes right after school can help cut down on illness. The idea is they bring all sorts of school bugs home from school on their clothes, and reducing the time they are exposed to them makes it more likely that they’ll fight them off.

  4. Maria Ortiz-Cintron

    lol…I also have a morning chant and an after school chant. My after school chant consists of: “shoes, uniform, hands & snack”. I don’t like the kids walking arond the house with their outdoor shoes (allergens, etc).

    However, I have this awesome little book “Germs! Germs! Germs!” by Bobbi Katz (Scholastic). It’s THE cutest poem about, you guessed it Germs!. I read it in the car to my kids while we wait for the bus in the morning. It’s a lot of fun. The book is intended for Grades 1 & 2 (my kids are in 6th and 9th!), but the poem is such a fun, rhymy, song like way to remind the kids constantly why washing their hands is so important, that they actually get a kick out of listening to it. At this point, we’re re-reading it to see how long it will take before we can memorize the entire germ poem.

    This repetitious reinforcement helps them remember to wash their hands at school, where Mom and her little book are no where to be found…(at least I hope that’s what happens!).. :)

  5. We have a rule that hands are washed *immediately* after coming into the house from anywhere. I have to say, our kids are ill much less often than friends who don’t have the same rule.

    1. I think I should copy you, coffeemamma! I feel like I’ve seen the same thing — when our hand-washing habits are good, we are sick much less. Yours sounds like a smart rule.

      1. We have that exact same rule at our house. We hardly ever have illnesses, and I think that mandatory handwashing upon arriving at home is a major, major reason why.

      2. That is our rule as well. We ALL wash our hands as soon as we come in the door. Also, we don’t wear outside shoes into the house. This causes indoor pollution (think about all of the pollutants you can bring into the home this way). I can’t recall the last time my son was sick since we put these into effect.

        1. Krista Hansen

          Us too. Whenever we walk in the door, I say coat (if necessary), shoes and hands. The kids race to wash their hands first and I think the foaming soap is the easiest for them. Sorry you’ve been sick. Between going to school and church, it seems like you just can’t win. Good luck!

  6. I’m sorry to hear the Blair bunch has been sick! URGH! I’m a little OCD with the handwashing and (un)fortunately, LOL, it has rubbed off onto my kids. The three of them have anti-bacterial gel in the pencil cases or hanging from their back pack or in their locker. Or all three! They ALWAYS use it before lunch. I find it disconcerting that washing hands before lunch isn’t a school rule. We also keep Scentsy (I sell it) brand anti-bacterial foam (no alcohol) in the car and use it when we get back in from shopping. Fortunately my children are not sick very often and I think washing hands is a huge factor!

    1. Thanks for the sympathy, Robyn! I like the idea of hand sanitizer in their pencil box or locker. I haven’t tried that, but I do like sending a packet of baby wipes to school with them. Maybe I should do both. : )

  7. I went on a field trip with the kids to a medical center. They were taught how to wash their hands properly, and I had never thought of some of the places on our hands we frequently miss. Don’t forget in between your fingers, your thumbs, and also wash your fingernails by scrubbing the tips against your palm.
    Good Luck!

  8. Love the mickey soap–especially the lemonade scent. I will definitely be putting that on my shopping list!

  9. I think hand towels are fabulous germ incubators. Maybe designating a hand towel for each member of the family (we assign colors) or using paper toweling during sickness would be helpful.

  10. I think there’s something to moving and getting sick with new germs. We moved from UT to NM two weeks ago and we’re all sooo sick. My poor baby girl (13 months) has strep, 2 ear infections, and a sinus infection. It’s killing us! I guess I need my own Mickey Mouse soap to help combat these New Mexican germs.

  11. Oh, that lemonade-scented hand soap is delightful. I bought one for the second-floor bathroom adjacent to my sons’ room, and loved it so much there’s now one in the first floor powder room, as well!

    I also appreciated the note on the back informing that the product was tested on neither animals nor animations.

    I just hope they start to sell refill pouches like they do for many of their other products.

  12. With a 14 year old, I have found it handy to keep a pump dispenser of purell in one of the many cup holders in my car. During the winter cold season, I had her clean her hands when I picked her up at carpool. It’s also handy to use right before we get something to eat if we’re out and about. I’m a teacher and of course keep it handy for use during the day. This has really cut down on illnesses in our house.

  13. Sorry your sweet ones are sick! I hope they make a speedy recovery.
    Ever since the kids were little we would have them head straight to the restroom to wash their hands when we got home from anywhere. Repetition paid off & it didn’t take long for them to continue this habit. I also keep a container of hand sanitizer in the van & they get a squirt when we leave from somewhere. I tell them how you can actually catch germs & illnesses; hands in mouth, someone not covering a sneeze or cough, eating after someone, etc… I think there’s a Youtube video somewhere showing all the things that fly out of your mouth when you sneeze. Adding a visual reinforcer seems to really make an impact with my kids.

  14. We like using the CleanWell hand sanitizer spray that I keep in the car and the CleanWell foam pump that I keep next to the changing table. Hand washing is big in our house too. It’s important at my daughter’s school too. Her toddler classroom has to wash hands before eating snack or lunch and after going to the bathroom or having their diaper changed.

  15. Mom in Mendon

    We’re currently using Method’s non-soap hand-sanitizer. I like it because I clean my hands a LOT during any given day and since I’m prone to chapped hands, this saves me.

    1. I was just thinking about non-soap cleaner as I was reading replies! I get chapped hands when I wash my hands a lot. It is good to know that Method offers a non-soap version. So far I only knew about Cetaphil. I’m thinking I might need to try this Method soap everyone keeps talking about…

  16. I just heard a cute little girl say that her mom tells her to put on her soap gloves. What a great way to get them to wash longer. Don’t know if you have it there, but “Airbourne” is a great thing to take just as you feel it coming on.

  17. Sorry to hear that you’ve all been catching lots of bugs. We were in France not long ago and 2 of my girls got chicken pox! One of whom was vaccinated and got a mild case, but my baby hadn’t yet been vaccinated for chicken pox and got a horrible case of it! Good luck keeping the germs at bay! I love hearing about all your adventures!

  18. I always, always use the foaming hand soap for kid’s hands. It fills up their little hands and you can start “washing” before the water is even turned on. We “scrub” our hands while singing a song and then rinse with warm water. As an added benefit, it also cleans up better on the bathroom sink.

  19. Isn’t it strange how a new place really does expose you to new germs? I moved from utah to DC 18 months ago, and my daughter and I have been sick more in that time than the rest of our lives combined. Time for our immune systems to kick in! I try to wash hands as often as I remember. The worst is when we’ve just gotten home from church and I rush to put my daughter down for her nap and then realize we never washed those nursery germs off– the worst kind!!

  20. I took a class on natural remedies from the Campus Center for Alternative Technology at Humboldt State once and the instructor emphasized that when she is going on a short trip she tries to avoid all the foreign bugs, but when she is going somewhere for longer than a week or two she tries to catch all the “common” bugs in her new area right away to get her immune system acclimated to the different strains.

    Also, I remember reading a blog post about using cinnamon to teach kids about germs and handwashing. I couldn’t find the post I read, but a Google search turned up some lesson plans!

  21. Noticed the double faucet in your photo. That was one of the hardest things to get used to while living in the UK. I can’t imagine… how do you manage this, especially with younger children?

  22. It’s the new germs that are creating havoc. I’m not one to get sick easily, but I was constantly catching colds when I moved to Amsterdam three years ago. Thankfully my body adjusted after a few months… and since then I’m back to my usual, barely sick, self. Granted you’re only in France for a year… so hopefully you guys adapt sooner than I did!

  23. I think it might halt to try and remind the kids to wash hands before they eat somthing at school too – we teachers are mostly too busy and it might reduce the amount of germs in your system.

  24. My own kids don’t go for it, but when I was a teenage babysitter, I had great success by having “bubble contests” with my charges. We’d see who could make the biggest, frothiest bubbles.

  25. Jennifer Evans

    HELP! I have infant triplets and a toddler. We are about to move out on our own (have been living with my parents for a year). Our budget is tight and we could REALLy use this!! Plus, I love Method products. THANKS :)

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