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Handwashing Is the Hot Trend, I Hope It Lasts

Alethea Mshar
Special needs mom and Blogger
03/04/20  11:32 AM PST

Whether you’re in full panic mode, ordering costly face masks from eBay or chilling while watching things transpire, one thing is for sure with the COVID-19 outbreak:  handwashing is trendy, fist or (better yet) elbow bumps are the new handshake and you’re sure to get the stink eye if you cough in public without a legit, full-arm face cover.

We have been handwashing, fist-bumping, cough and sneeze covering gurus for years. It started in the NICU days for my older son when we learned that keeping him healthy started with hygiene, and hit full steam and stuck for good when our younger son was diagnosed with leukemia and later primary immunodeficiency. 

We’re the people who have always kept sanitizer on our purses, in our vehicles, and on diaper bags. We have washed through our ABC’s, or a couple of rounds of “Row Your Boat” for so many years that we have long since dropped the singing and have muscle memory of how long a full 20 seconds is. We diligently clean our fingernails, the backs of our hands and between fingers, cough or sneeze into our elbows like pros and keep at least a 6-foot radius from anyone who appears ill.

Related:  When and How to Wash Your Hands

My hope is that this practice sticks for everyone.

To me, it only makes sense to see school children wash up at the beginning and end of the day, before meals and after outdoor play. The signs I see going up a doctor’s offices and therapy centers asking people to sanitize when they come and when they go are long overdue, though hand-washing sinks would be even better. I hope the signs and habits stay after the panic dies down and life returns to normal.

I realize how fortunate I have been that for most of my parenting existence I have not had to sacrifice my job in order to keep my kids home when they’re sick or to stay home myself when I’m sick. On the flip side, I have been on the receiving end of sickness when people fail to follow that practice. When a former boss brought her sick child to work to avoid missing a day, I brought the bug home with a mild 24-hour case myself but my son was sick for over a week with what was just a one-day thing for the rest of us. Not all of us have the privilege of a job that allows us to work from home or miss a day for illness, and not all of us have a body that can fight off illness and push through. It’s overdue for employers to recognize the tension and work toward policies that improve the health of employees and families. Perhaps this too will shift with the concern over a novel virus strain.

Handwashing saves lives.

While I hope the COVID-19 outbreak quickly becomes a thing of the past, I urge us all to learn and remember the lessons of the present situation. Handwashing saves lives. Stay home when you’re sick to the greatest extent possible. Use common courtesy like coughing into a shirt or arm and turning away from those nearby. Preventing illness might not be easy, but it really is as simple as that. 

inclusion on the playground

Alethea Mshar is a Special Needs Mom and Blogger.

Read her blog, Ben’s Writing, Running Mom

Follow her on Facebook


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