Whether you are a person that thinks that it’s autumn the second that September hits or you prefer to measure your seasons from the equinox, you can’t deny that summer is saying its last goodbyes, and that cooler weather is very soon upon us.
You might be preparing to take the kids back to school if you haven’t already, or getting ready for that first school uniform photo the morning that they leave for their very first day, looking far too grown up in their smart uniform. You might have packed the paddling pool and other summer toys away for the year, and you might have sent the summer clothes up to the loft to be replaced by winter jumpers, coats, and wellies. The leaves are starting to brown and fall so that it’s crunchy underfoot as we walk through the park. The nights have drawn in, and while the sun is still shining, the air is fresher, and there are signs of autumn on the horizon.
Autumn brings much joy with it. Whether or not your children are looking forward to returning to school or nursery, they are probably looking forward to getting dressed up for Halloween, and you might already have a sizeable Christmas list to contend with. But, it’s not all positive. Colder weather has many benefits and brings with it some great fun, but it can also bring illness and disease, especially in a home with young children.
In truth (as you’ve probably already noticed) there’s absolutely nothing that you can do to prevent all colds and bugs. It’s perfectly normal to have up to five colds a year, and most families find that they pass them between each other, so that in the wintertime they seem to be just about fighting one cold off, when someone else in the family is struck down. But, that doesn’t mean that you should give into them. You might not be able to avoid the common cold altogether. But, you can minimise symptoms, give yourself the best chance to fight it off without too much disruption, and avoid anything more serious. Let’s take a look at some of the things that you can do to keep yourself fit and healthy this winter.
You might have just spent six weeks outside enjoying the sunshine. There might have been picnics in the park, days out at the beach, long strolls in nature and action-packed days. You might be looking forward to some cosy autumn days in, snuggled up in your PJs, watching your favourite Disney films and sipping thick, creamy hot chocolate. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. We all need to rest and relax and the occasional day in can be good for both your physical and mental health, especially when the weather is particularly bad, or you are feeling unwell. But, spending the whole season inside watching TV can have a detrimental effect on your immune system, your mood, and your fitness levels. You are more likely to get sick with a lack of fresh air and vitamin D, but less likely to be able to fight things off if you’ve let your fitness levels slide.
That’s why exercise, and getting outdoors remains essential no matter what the weather is doing. Try to keep walking places when the weather is mild, take your kids to the park, go bike riding, try online videos, and keep to your usual exercise routines whenever possible. But, don’t be afraid to give yourself a break when you need it.
Stock Up on Medication
There’s no need to go crazy and stock your cupboards full of every medication that you could possibly need. But, it is a good idea to keep some of the essentials in, so that you can start a course as soon as you begin to feel unwell. You might usually use Sudafed for any congestion, have a preferred brand of flu relief drugs, and your children might respond better to infant paracetamol.
Then, there’s other relief. Sore throat lozenges, soft tissues, hot water bottles, cough sweets, and cooling forehead patches can also help you to feel better, so keep some in just in case.
You might also want to book yourself in for a flu jab. Your children might get theirs at school, and younger children might get an invitation to attend a clinic at your doctors to receive a nasal spray. But, adults generally only get a free flu jab if they are in an at-risk group. If you aren’t, it can still be worth paying for an injection to prevent flu, and dealing with it while looking after young children can be tough.
Brush Up On Hygiene
Hopefully, your hygiene is already good, but this is the best time to brush up and to make sure your children and the rest of your family are sticking to the same standards. Make sure you are all practicing good personal hygiene with regular hand washing, putting tissues in the bin, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and daily baths or showers. Then, check your home. Wash towels and bedding at least once a week, and always after someone has been ill. Keep clothes clean, ventilate bathrooms and kitchens to reduce the risk of mould and mildew and avoid leaving dirty washing and laundry out on the side or floor.
Rest When You Need It
If you or a member of your family feel ill, don’t think that you have to just get on with things. It’s ok to rest. Give yourself some time to recover. Go to bed early, relax at home and take some time off school or work. This will help you to feel better and reduce the risks of anyone catching your bug.
Focus on Your Diet
One of the best things about the colder months is that you can forget about that beach body – if you cared in the first place – and enjoy food a little more freely. You might want to indulge in comforting casseroles and hearty takeaways. You might eat a few more desserts, and embark on a full program of Christmas overindulgence. This can be great, and we certainly all deserve some comfort food from time to time.
But the key is balance. Eat unhealthy, fatty, and greasy foods all of the time, and you’ll quickly become unhealthy, fat, and greasy. You’ve heard the term “you are what you eat,” and frankly, it’s entirely accurate. Look after your immune system and boost your energy levels with healthy food, lots of vitamins, plenty of water and meals filled with vegetables and protein and you’ll survive the winter in much better condition. By all means, enjoy your cake and other comforts, but do it in moderation. Enjoy a healthy and balanced diet, and you’ll feel healthier.
Prioritise Your Mental Health
Many of us struggle with our mental health in the wintertime. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, a lack of light. Daylight hours are less, we spend more time indoors, and even when we get out in the day time, it’s often cloudy and dark. This can be bad for our mood and means that we don’t get as much vitamin D as we would like. Secondly, there’s stress. As parents, these months are busy. We’re preparing for Christmas, buying gifts and decorating our homes. We’ve got a lot to do as no sooner we send our children off to school, we’re being invited to watch Christmas plays and attend other events. It’s a hectic few months, we struggle to get enough sleep, we spend too much money, and our stress levels are high. Add a bad cold, and it can all start to feel like too much. So, take care of your mental health. Go easy on yourself, get plenty of sleep, and ask for help when you need it.
Disclosure: This is a partnered post