A 'How to Keep Kids Healthy' Guidebook

I recently shared the lengthy story of Greta's hospital stay, but I've also been meaning to share the weeks leading up to that surgery. 

Those few weeks were really stressful for me. Not just in dealing with the impending surgery Greta needed, the surgery itself and the complications that arose, but also knowing that I had to keep her healthy or else we would have had to cancel the surgery and reschedule and go through all this anxiety again leading up to a new surgery date.

One of the few things as terrible as sending your child into surgery is the anticipation leading up to it, and the possibility of postponing it, which somehow rests all in your hands. The thought of prolonging it made my anxiety almost too much to take some days. I took on the weight of this task and it was a heavy one to bear. Ultimately I know only so much was in my control, but I was determined to do the best I could to keep her healthy. I know sending her to the hospital healthy meant her healing would go faster and she would recuperate quicker.

So I've put together a lengthy post of some tips and products we used. I think some of these are actually going to be a part of our regular life now. Maybe not quite as vigilant as we have been the last few weeks, but definitely leading up to important events like scheduled surgeries (hopefully no more for us!) and even vacations. If you're like me you spend weeks agonizing over the possibility of a kid getting sick right before a vacation departure and the whole trip being ruined, money lost, and a trip never taken.

I have always been very consistent about vitamins for the kids. Every evening at dinner the bottles come out from the pantry and the fridge. Every. Night. They take a multiple, vitamin C, D3 and probiotic/acidophilus. But I knew that our regular routine wasn't going to cut it. All Greta needed was a cold and that would've cancelled the procedure. And even with her regular routine of vitamins she still gets a cold every so often like normal kids. So I had to up my game.

Fortunately we went all winter without the flu, which was shocking let me tell you. Everyone around us contracted the flu, family, friends, classmates. Each day Aaron and I would look at each other and say "this is it, today's our day", and we'd brace ourselves. We don't get flu shots, in fact, the one year I got a flu shot was the year Romeo, my nephew, was born and I did not want to be responsible for infecting that precious infant. I swear the 48 hours following the shot were absolutely miserable. I've read all the articles telling me that it was impossible, just a coincidence, not related to the flu shot! But I haven't had a flu shot any of the years leading up to, or following that and I've escaped the flu along with 48 miserable hours of flu-ish symptoms. Don't get me wrong, I know my number is up. It's waiting for me, flu is comin' for me next winter! And not to worry, I am wholeheartedly in support of all who get the flu shot. So this is not a debate, it's just not right for my family at this time. 

When everyone was going down around us with the flu, Aaron and I kicked everything into high gear.

*We sanitized and wiped down surfaces. Every day.

*After Greta had her infection and hospital stay in January, we wanted to keep her as healthy as possible and aid in her healing. She started taking a teaspoon of Manuka honey every day, and all the kids as well got a teaspoon each day. I even started taking it too to make sure I would stay well enough to care for everyone. That honey is not cheap though, let me warn you. New Zealanders, I sure hope it's cheaper for you than it is for us! Good news, Trader Joe's just started carrying it locally for us.

*We would make batch after batch of bone broth at the encouragement of my friend Kim, who is a wealth of information on homeopathy and natural remedies. She really helped me at each point on our path of recovery. From arnica pellets after the infection to encouraging us to start using Bragg’s apple cider vinegar (fyi, my kids were not fans of that one!) to buying Bubbies fermented pickles for their healing qualities. We were all over her recommendations!

*For the bone broth we cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot in water and then would use the chicken or shred it for a meal. Then we would put the chicken bones back in the crockpot and add turmeric and thyme and a little apple cider vinegar to make the bone broth. The vitamins and minerals are pulled out of the bones and you're left with this amazing broth. The kids got used to sipping it each day when we were warding off an illness from someone close. We would freeze smaller portions of the broth so if we wanted a boost of vitamins and minerals, or felt like making a little batch of soup, we could defrost a container and voila broth is ready to go.

Since we were familiar with both of these methods and they worked well at flu prevention, we did this again in the week leading up to Greta's thyroid surgery. We started about 10-12 days before her scheduled surgery.

We also added a few more things into the mix:

*The kids(all of them because if one of them got sick, you know how that goes) started taking elderberry syrup each day(that's the exact one they take, also warning it's not cheap when 3 kids are taking it each and every day).

*We also added in these powder packets of ProBoost. My client and friend had recommended this after her daughter was recovering from Mono she contracted in kindergarten and it wasn't until I got the package in the mail did I remember that I used to take these. When Gunnar was little and we were attempting to start trying for another baby I went to the homeopathic pharmacy and told them "make me healthy! my son and I catch everything and I need to get well and strong before I get pregnant again!" And one of the things they prescribed was the ProBoost thymic protein powder. Greta took one packet each day leading up to the surgery, and twice a day the few days right before. You dissolve the powder under your tongue before swallowing, it takes about 1-3 minutes. 

*I also added lemon into her diet as much as I could. It naturally is such a powerhouse of vitamin C and it is anti-inflammatory and fights viral infections. Just a few drops into every cup of water she was drinking. She never complained either, it gave a nice fresh taste to the water. 

I think these all aided in her immunity boost and kept her well. The week before her surgery I was volunteering in her classroom and I just knew we were in trouble. A little girl sitting nearby was clearly in the midst of an awful, awful cold. Sneezing and coughing and snotty and you name it! I thought it was over. But I just kept on with what we were doing and Greta was a champ at keeping her desk area clean. She had a huge container of hand sanitizer and all through the day she told me she would wipe down her desk and clean her hands. Greta knew how important it was that she stay well and she was a trooper, never once complained about a syrup or a powder or a teaspoon of anything. 

*Some other remedies that I know a lot of people are fans of is the Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar every day, I mentioned earlier we tried it with the kids. They were not fans of it, but I’m going to keep on trying. Aaron takes it straight each day and as much as I love staying healthy, I can't stomach that stuff myself. But people swear by it! They have other flavors that I hear are palatable so we will experiment. But we do use it in the bone broth.

*Adding extra greens into your diet too is great for boosting your immune system. If your kids are not too green on greens, try slipping it in their smoothies. Frozen kale is actually a lot easier to hide in a smoothie than fresh kale. Also, a powerful blender that can truly pulverize those leaves is key so that they don’t leave little lettuce pieces the kids can detect. The smoothie below has a ton of frozen spinach in it, but my kids were convinced it was veggie free. A quick yummy recipe for us is coconut milk yogurt, frozen berries, frozen pineapple, frozen spinach, water and ice. 

Each time before we have an impending flight to take I have severe anxiety about one of us coming down with something and all the planning, all the money, will just be ruined. So I think I'm going to have this be our pre-vacation ritual from now on. 

If you've made it this far, bravo!! That is quite the lengthy post, isn't it? So much info to share, I hope it helps some readers out there. I know I would've loved to have a little bit of this through the years to help us in the winter months of endless cycles of colds and sinus infections as the kids were growing up. Please share in the comments if there's anything you do certain times of year to keep the family healthy?