23/07/2013 16:27 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

The House Dad Chronicles: One Week Into School Term - And There Is A Plague Upon Us

The House Dad Chronicles: One week into school term - and there is a plague upon us Alamy

School has been back just over a week and already there is a plague upon us. Colds, coughs, sore throats, runny tummies and even lice. And those are just the adults!

As one Tweeter put it: "Monday Morning Smiles have become Stepford Stares."
"Yep, and Wishing For Weekend Wine," I replied.

A carefree(ish) summer of open spaces and fresh(ish) air has been replaced by stuffy classrooms that are a breeding ground for air-and-airborne nasties.

And not only have my three charges succumbed – I have, too.

I've spent the last few days up to my armpits in tissues, Calpol and nit-ridding solution. All to no avail.

Some mums at our school have taken drastic action by keeping their kids away until the plague passes, while another sent her boy in on Thursday morning with a head as bald as a baby's backside.

But we've got off lightly. Another mother received a phone call on Wednesday to say her five-year-old had had a bit of an accident. When she arrived at school she found him sobbing with pain and cluthching his hand.

When she peeled open his tiny fist, she recoiled in horror to see a deep gash and half his fingernail hanging off.

"He trapped his finger in the door," he was told by a teacher. "Just one of those things."

And indeed it is, except in this case it was a direct result of Back-To-School-Woes because it had been caused by an unfinished door from the building work carried out over the summer holidays.

Accidents aside, the biggest issue is how to get through the next couple of weeks while the kids build up their resistance to the bugs all around them.

But short of disinfecting all the books, tables, desks, chairs, doorknobs, toilet seats, toilet handles, playground equipment, knives, forks, spoons, plates - and the classmates themselves, what can you do? Send them to school in contamination suits?

Dr Heather Payne, a paediatrician and Senior Medical Officer for the Welsh government said ensuring vaccinations are up-to-date, encouraging good hygiene among children, and making sure kids eat, sleep and exercise properly can all help.


Returning to school can be quite a shock to the system, for parents, teachers and of course children. Relaxing holiday time is replaced by the physical and mental demands of school life and kids soon get exhausted," she said this week.


"Add to this a sudden increase in contact with other children and it's little wonder they start coming home with sniffles, sore tummies, head lice and worse."

Here are Dr Payne's tips for keeping bugs at bay:

• Ensure your child's immunisations against all common infectious diseases are up to date.

•To avoid the spread of cold germs, get your children into the habit of blowing their noses into a tissue then disposing of it and washing their hands.

• Teach your child to wash their hands regularly, especially after going to the toilet, blowing their nose, handling rubbish, touching animals and before eating.

• Make sure their immune system is boosted with enough sleep, plenty of fruit and vegetables and enough fluid, preferably water.

• Make sure children exercise daily – in the fresh air where possible.

• Try to help your child through any stresses they encounter by talking and listening to them when you are both calm and relaxed.

• If your child does get ill, keep them at home until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours to prevent other children getting infected.

• Headlice are hard to avoid, and more than one in three kids will get them at some point during the year. Keep headlice at bay by regular wet combing the hair, using treatments if necessary.

And here's my tip: Buy yourself a 10-foot pole and use it to keep the kids as far away from you as possible until the middle of October at the earliest.

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