I don’t know about your state, but here in Wisconsin, flu season is in full swing. I haven’t had a full class of kids for weeks on end. I get jumpy around this time of year, because I know it’s just a matter of time before I’m home sick on the couch requesting a sub. To make matters worse, a few weeks ago, a poor little second grader got sick in my room. Not only that, but our veteran custodian said it was the worst he’s ever seen. Yikes.
This year, I vowed that I was going to try extra hard to stay healthy. So far, it’s working. Here are my top five tips for staying healthy in the art room this winter.
1. Get a flu shot
In the past, there have been a million reasons why I didn’t get a flu shot. I was too busy to make an appointment. It would make my arm sore. I heard rumors that flu shots actually make people sick. Whatever my excuses, for the past three years I’ve decided they aren’t good enough. I quit complaining, get the shot, and have been flu free ever since.
2. Wash your hands after every class
I realize that this is a bit of a no-brainer, but it bears repeating: you cannot wash your hands enough. After every class, I make a quick trip to my sink to remove the germs from one group in preparation for the next. With all that washing, you may need a good hand lotion. I recommend this one.
3. Don’t touch the kids!
When I made my resolve to stay healthy, I started taking note of how closely I was interacting with my students. Between high-fives, side-arm hugs, and patting them on the head (does anyone else have this problem?) I realized I was getting WAY too close. I feel at this point, I should remind you that I teach elementary school. Perhaps teachers at the middle and high schools don’t have the problem of every child wanting to hug them on the way out the door. Anyway, my solution was to literally take a step back. Now, I simply just stand farther away from the kids and give them a friendly wave on their way out the door.
4. Avoid mystery snacks
At my school, I get snacks or treats delivered from students at least three times a week. Birthdays, classroom parties, star of the week, you name it; all the snacks come to me. Besides helping me keep off the pounds, discreetly disposing of these treats dramatically reduces the amount of germs I’m exposed to. If I’m really, really craving the chocolate chip cookie that showed up on my desk, I just remind myself that there’s no way to know what was on the little hands that touched it before it arrived.
This advice is perhaps the most difficult for me to follow. I like to constantly be on the go. However, this time of year, it’s important to remember to take a step back and take care of yourself. Whether it’s taking a yoga class, doing a relaxation exercise, or curling up with a good book, rest gives the immune system a chance to stay healthy. Similarly, when the inevitable happens and you are feeling under the weather, stay home! Your body will thank you.
Tell us, how do you stay healthy at school?Any magical tips out there?
Has the flu season plagued your school?