Mom-tested handwashing tricks, plus the importance of handwashing

March 30, 2017


There are a couple of things I'm a stickler about when it comes to raising my seven-year-old – manners, kindness, picking up after himself, being respectful to people, and self-care, for example sufficient sleep, brushing teeth and regular handwashing (especially after coming home from school or public places, or before eating).

Much of it has become quite ingrained, but sometimes these things require reminders and explanations, like when playing Minecraft seems more exciting than going to sleep.

We've had a great and healthy first term of school with virtually no nagging, and no punishments and shouting, and only a little coercion here and there. I know we haven't hit winter yet and therefore a more challenging time with colds and flu all around school, but I'm grateful that we've had no health issues or visits to the doctor.

I've written before that one of the most significant pieces of medical advice came from a GP I once visited when I had a chest infection. It was close to Comrades Marathon time, and I asked him what I could take or do to prevent flu again before the race. His advice? Wash hands frequently, to prevent the transfer of bacteria/viruses. It's something I try to practise often, and it's why I'm regularly reminding my son to wash his hands.  I'd like to think that this has gone a long way in keeping us both fairly healthy.

I might not be that way off… according to Lifebuoy, contagious germs can lead to infections such as dysentry, diarrhoea, fever spots, flu, sore throat, cough, and ear infection. Washing well and regularly can kill these germs, which in a kid's world, can be found on animals, insects, clothes, other children, dirty surfaces, dustbins, toilets and bathroom fittings.

When children are active, they often get sweaty as a result of exertion. Sweat doesn’t actually cause body odour. Germs do. The germs feed on the sweat, which causes a chemical reaction that results in a bad smell. Moms with older kids in particular know how it is when their kids come home smelling less than fresh after a busy day at school.

Lifebuoy Lemon Fresh not only protects against 10 infection-causing germs, but also protects against germs that cause bad odour. It only takes 1 drop of sweat to create bad odour, but bathing with Lifebuoy Lemon Fresh washes away the bacteria that feed off sweat as well as all the other ‘bad germs’ responsible for infections and illness, so your family is kept healthier and fresher.

Lifebuoy also has practical advice for handwashing (I've long been following these ideas, and they're very doable):

When to wash hands:

  • After going to the toilet
  • Before breakfast
  • Before lunch
  • Before dinner
  • At bathtime
  • After coming home from school/the park/sports activities/shopping malls/parties

It’s just as important to know how to wash hands. These are the correct ways to wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (preferably warm) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub your hands all over.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 – 30 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands on a clean, dry towel to ensure that they don’t get re-contaminated with germs.

Good to know: It should take at leaset 20 seconds to wash your hands – any less and you might not have killed harmful bacteria.

How to make handwashing fun for kids:

Lifebuoy has a fun approach to education and behaviour change in its School of 5 programme, which has educated more than 11 million South Africans about handwashing since 2012.

1. Track & reward

Lifebuoy School of 5 uses a handwashing diary for moms and kids to track their progress during their 21-day journey. Start your own calendar and add stickers as a reward for each time handwashing is completed.

2. Sing a song

The correct amount of time to wash hands correctly with soap is 20 seconds. Sing the alphabet or Old MacDonald or make up your own healthy handwashing song to sing while washing to track the time and keep kids entertained.

3. High 5s

Incorporate High 5s into the handwashing routine as a fun element. Give a High 5 after each successful handwashing experience.

4. Make it easier

Make it easier for kids to reach the basin by adding a stool or step so they can easily reach everything. Create a more fun bathroom environment by adding a fun soap dish or stickers to the mirror.

5. Make it routine

Many moms find it best to build handwashing into their everyday routine, adding it to a series of regular events, such as hanging up their coat and putting away their schoolbag, so that kids eventually do it automatically.

Feature image: Shutterstock

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