Around 5 years ago we were blessed with a boy. He is an active child and needs multiple avenues to explore his environment and satisfy his curiosity. Our saying “No” to him for everything without giving a good reason was not a strategy that would work well for our avid explorer. Hence, my husband and I decided to ensure for him, an environment that does not hamper his exploration but at the same time is safe and protective. While we still need to discipline him from time to time by using phrases like “Papa is watching you” and “If you do not behave, you will not get your treat for today”. Providing a protected environment aids his learning and development without any hindrance while reassuring us that he will not be harmed.
We sterilized rooms in our home to make them largely germ-free and dust-free. Our son loves to spread out his Lego pieces and not just goes by the hand-out provided but creates his own works of art with them. He also enjoys painting and makes a huge mess while creating his masterpieces. The ideal way to do these activities with enough space to spread out his things was by making him sit on the floor. So for him to follow his passions, we had to ensure that the floors get cleaned regularly with disinfectant liquid.
It is easier to provide a sanitized environment at home. It is however tricky to do so outside. Our son needs his share of physical activity and enjoys going to the park, playing on the swings etc. Children need to physically explore the environment where they can touch and feel things. Natural outdoor settings are ideal for this. We always carry Dettol hand sanitizer and multi-use wipes for his little adventures outside home. He also enjoys swimming, skating, and going to play areas in malls. We insist on him cleaning up after these exploits so much so that he enjoys coming back and taking a bath.
Like most kids his age, our son also likes to run around and pick up challenging tasks and often hurts himself. We have kept a first aid kid handy with all the essentials – cotton, Spiderman band aids, anti-bacterial cream and of course the Antiseptic Liquid. We tell him that we are using “magic” to heal his wounds. He happily thinks it’s our touch and kiss but it’s actually Dettol’s magic at work.
In his school, teachers ensure that kids wash their hands before and after every meal, wash up after painting and playground time. This reinforces a similar strong message in the minds of the children – to stay clean to remain healthy. When I walked into his school washrooms and saw liquid hand wash I was comforted that the school is inculcating the importance of hygiene in children. My son is now so used to this routine, that on days when we are pre-occupied he reminds us to follow the hygiene practices and hums “Rub-a-dub-dub” while applying the hand wash.
Our son enjoys mealtime and is a non-fussy eater. He usually tells us what he would like to eat by picking from options provided to him. We try and give him a variety of items which are not just healthy but tasty too. His food options range from all veggies (greens, ladyfinger, bitter gourd, cauliflower etc.), pulses (dals, rajma, chana), and idlis to pizza, pasta, sandwiches and bean enchiladas. After every meal, he picks up his plate and drops it off in the kitchen sink, pointing to the kitchen dish gel to be used for washing his favourite Mickey Mouse plate.
Our son is often called a “happy child”. I feel only a healthy child can be a happy child. The reason for him being healthy is germ free and hygienic living. Children are great imitators and they love copying our habits. Staying clean is one habit we are proud he has picked up. We are giving him the protection he needs at home and outside and now he is himself engaged in the mission to stay healthy and germ free. He has built good immunity, barely falls sick and hence, attends school regularly. Our mantra is “Exploration is Development and Protection is Freedom”. Only by exploring can a child develop and only by protecting him can we give him the freedom to do so.
This article was first published on Momspresso (erstwhile mycity4kids) sponsored by Dettol.