Dirt’s not so bad

13 Dec

Sure, I’ve thought about the three second rule, and found that nowadays it’s more like, um, the 5 or 10 second rule depending upon how recently the floor has been cleaned. You see, I’m one of those strange women who prefers that people take off their shoes in the house (but I don’t carry on about it and if people don’t do it, well, I just suck it up and deal with it). DD and I take off our shoes as soon as we get home. DD would rather have bare feet and I wear slippers or jiffies. Just one of my quirks, not wanting dirt tracked through the house.

I’m still thinking about the ‘immunising your kid through dirt’ hypothesis. There’s an op-ed piece that I read today here by Tory Shepherd. Have to say, her piece gave me a bit of a giggle (way to go, Tory! I appreciate that!).

There’s a vindictive delight in knowing that it [excessive hygiene paranoia] might just all be a crock. And more, that all this sterility is really not very good for children at all.

I think this very specific and bitter pleasure comes from having evidence that “helicopter parenting” is bad. […]

This is not a noble feeling, but it’s one plenty of us have. At a guess it’s spawned by defensive thinking that we were not that protected.

Our parents never worried about us that much and we’re just fine thank-you-very-much.

Parenting now is a competition sport. Marketers know that, and use it to increase the guilt motherlode and sell more and more products.

I don’t use the sterile wipes on DD because she has eczema which flares up horribly when the alcohol in those wipes touches her skin. (Same thing with me – still getting over dermatitis from using one of those wipes 2.5 weeks ago.) So it’s back to basics like my mum did: damp facewasher kept in a plastic bag. Heck, let’s splash out – let’s have a few of them! At last count, DD had about 20 facewashers in the linen closet and it’s really not too hard to get organised to do that. If you don’t want to use a plastic bag, get a small reusable plastic container for the damp facewasher. That’s it. Soap and water in the bathroom are fine. Just wash all over the hands, between the fingers and all the way down the wrist, and make sure the hands are completely dry. Of course, that means a bit more laundry because hand towels will get wetter quicker, but that’s do-able.

DD has eaten her share of dirt and sand to the point where she had vile nappies. As far as I can tell, she wasn’t missing anything in her diet but she grew out of it. Even now, she has a pretty laissez-faire attitude towards dirt.

I suspect part of this is due to me deliberately not going down the OMG teh dirt and cooties! route. I remember getting totally obsessed about germs as a little kid and it was horrible. Even now, I’m quite aware that I could go back to that behaviour under stress because I’ve done it again and again as an adult. I can see that with a child who has a compromised immune system, you must be particularly vigilant – your child’s health will improve with your actions. But for the average kid, this can be pretty much over the top.

In the meantime, I have a kid who has what appears to be a fairly healthy immune system. She eats her fruit and vegies. Any cuts or scrapes heal quickly after being cleaned and having some magic ointment on them (Bepanthen or Dettol). She doesn’t catch many colds. And best of all, she’s full of beans, wants to play all day and loves life. Even if she nearly gives her mum a panic attack now and then. 🙂

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Posted by on December 13, 2010 in Children's Health


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