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I love fall and winter. LOVE. IT. What I don’t love is that the change in weather usually means a change in health. We start getting the sniffles and a cough. Kids want to sleep longer (at least mine do). It’s flu season, RSV season, and stomach bug season. So, how do you stay healthy during cold and flu season? 

School or no school?

First, how does it affect our homeschool? I really only let my kids have a free day if they are sick in bed with a fever or if the babies are crying a lot and I won’t be able to help the older kids. If the older kids have a cough but can manage to play – they can also manage to do school. You know your kids best, so judge their behavior and if they need the break to recover, please allow them to have it. Just because we can homeschool whenever we want, doesn’t mean we should. And just because they have a sniffle, doesn’t mean they can’t do school. 

Now to the goods. I’ll share with you my must-haves to keep the family healthy. Keep in mind I tend to stay on the natural side of health, so I won’t be posting about Tylenol or other over the counter drugs because that’s not who I am or what I use. 

I do want to let you know that these are things I use on myself and my family, however, I am not a medical doctor and cannot diagnose or prescribe. Basically, you do you. 

Disclaimer out of the way, what do I actually use and does it work?

Preventative

First, if we don’t feed our children healthy foods they will be more prone to picking up any illness that comes around. By healthy, I don’t mean following the food pyramid (which really doesn’t focus on health). I mean staying away from dairy, sugar, bread, and meat. Obviously, this is not easy. This is the holiday season, that’s all they live on at times! I tend to take the approach of two meals that are healthy and one that we can enjoy. For instance, we do oatmeal every morning. It does get boring so I try mixing it up. Overnight oats, cinnamon apple oatmeal, frozen berry oatmeal, pb&J oatmeal (my kids favorite!). We have so many flavor combos that my kids can stick with it for a long time. Lunch, I try to stay heavy on the veggies. We do salad bars, hummus with veggies, stir fry, homemade potato wedges, etc. Very rarely will they get sandwiches, chips, or other common lunch items. I try to keep it simple and heavy on the veggies.

We also do green smoothies. Our favorite one is very simple with orange juice, pineapple, and spinach but my kids always ask for more. It’s a great way to get greens into them if they are not used to it! I use green smoothies as part of breakfast or just a snack. 

For dinner, I try my hardest to keep it healthy, but sometimes my pickiest eater is my husband.  He hates when I make a meatless meal. He hates potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash. Any time he hears that we are having something he doesn’t like, he stops by the store for frozen burritos. Is my family perfect? That’s a hard no. So if your family is like mine, take heart – you are not alone!

Another food item that might take a while for your kids to get used to, but is so very beneficial, is fermented foods. I’m talking things like sauerkraut and kimchi. Some of my family loves sauerkraut and some hate it, but I try to always have some (usually a small spoonful) at lunch and dinner. I make my own sauerkraut and I prefer it to the store-bought kind because I can get the tanginess to our liking which means they are more willing to eat it.

Garlic and Mullein:

This is a favorite and one I keep on hand at all times. I make my own, but you can also buy it at an herb store or online. Garlic is a well-known antibiotic. It will kill any infection that has set in or might be trying to set in, so if your child is prone to earaches, keep this on hand.

Mullein is a natural pain reliever. It also helps clear congestion. Both of which are very useful when dealing with an earache. Earaches are usually because there is a lot of congestion in the system. Too much dairy is a big culprit, although not the only one (my family eats very little). When the body tries to eliminate the congestion, it will take any avenue available to it and that will sometimes be the ears. 

How do we use this remedy? I will put this oil on their feet, on their chest, a drop or two of warmed oil (it will feel neutral on the wrist) in the ear, and a big squirt in the mouth. I apply to the feet and chest about every hour and in their ear as needed. I usually know it is needed once they start complaining of more pain. My kids also like a rice pack to lay their ear on once the garlic is in. It helps keep the pain away for longer.

Master Tonic (or as we like to call it, Dragon Juice):

Everyone has their own recipe for Dragon Juice, but I love this stuff! This is more for older children and adults because it is SPICY! I read somewhere that it is a live version of the Super Garlic Immune formula. Meaning that instead of dried herbs being used in SGIF, you use fresh herbs with Dragon Juice. Some kids might be able to handle it based on their tolerance for spicy. My 8-year-old asks for this when she is getting sick. She loves the SGIF (and will take it a lot because she loves it), but Dragon Juice kicks mucus out faster. Again, take this as often as your stomach can handle spicy. 

Red Raspberry Tea

This is a mild tea, but I love it for the littles. 

“One of the most simple remedies is to stop the use of all foods and beverages and drink only red raspberry leaf tea. Between cups of this tea, distilled water may be used, and, if desired, give the child some good organic (natural) vitamin C. Red raspberry tea has been known to facilitate a speedy recovery.  Offer the child as much as they will drink. To make red raspberry leaf tea use one heaping teaspoonful of cut or granulated (powdered) raspberry leaves into a teacup. Fill the cup with boiling distilled water, cover and let stand in a warm place for five or ten minutes. Strain, and drink it while it is very warm.  (Adults may wish to use this tea for a longer period).”

I find the tea is pretty mild, but if your child has problems with it, you can add a little raw honey or spearmint leaves to add a nice flavor.

These are our secret weapons. It’s not all we use, but these are the main ones and ones that I have on hand at all times. 

What if my child refuses?

What should you do if your child refuses to take something because it’s nasty? Well, I think I’m the mean mom in that instance. I tell them they can either take it by themselves or I can hold them while they take it, but either way, they are taking it. They usually choose to take it willingly, but if they don’t, I hold their arms and squeeze the dropper between the closed lips. If they spit it out, I let them know they will have to keep tasting it the more I have to put it in their mouth. I really don’t tolerate them refusing. The way that I view it is if a doctor gave you medicine, would you simply not have them take it because it’s nasty? I wouldn’t.

Another option is to be very honest. Let them know that what you are giving them is the ability to fight the illness faster and make them healthier in the long run. Some of my kids do better with reasoning. Some do better with bribes – tv time, mommy snuggles, etc.

I hope these give you some ideas of what to have on hand starting in the fall and throughout the winter. Let me know what are your must-haves!