I wash or sanitize my hands before and after each patient, after the bathroom, before eating, and multiple other times during the day… likely at least fifty times. I am less diligent though about reminding my children to wash their hands and I am intimately aware of how dirty their hands get as they rub them all over my face and clothes often. As we head into the Winter, I am trying to improve my success in getting them to wash more often.
A colleague recently told me how she gave a hand hygiene talk to her daughter’s Kindergarten class, which I thought was an awesome idea, and so I adapted her talk for my son’s preschool class. My son was ecstatic to have me in his classroom and enjoyed being my “special helper.” I introduced myself as a pediatrician and asked what a pediatrician does. Silence. Then, another pediatrician’s son raised his hand and said, “a pediatrician is a doctor who helps keep kids healthy.” A perfect plant in the audience. We then talked about covering our coughs, read a book called A Germ’s Journey, and discussed when we should wash or sanitize our hands. The kids informed me that hand-washing was for after the potty, before lunch, and after the park, which corresponded to when the teacher’s informed me that they encourage hand-washing in the classroom. The highlight was when we practiced washing our hands with glo-germs and a blacklight flashlight. Four volunteers rubbed the pretend germs on their hands and showed the rest of the class how the germs glowed, especially in all the creases and folds of their hands. Then they washed their hands while the teachers and I sang a few hand-washing songs (thanks to the creativity of the teachers). When the children returned we checked how thoroughly they washed their hands and two of the four did an excellent job while the other two, including my own son, were sent back to try again. Even the best hand-washer was left with a few “germs” in the webs of her fingers, showing us all how many suds and scrubs we really need to get clean.
I left the kids with a coloring page about covering their cough and cleaning their hands and we reviewed a few key points that I hope they remember throughout cold and flu season. At home, we will continue practicing our hand hygiene skills and hope for a healthy year ahead. Now while he washes he says, “just like you taught me at school!”
As a pediatrician mom, this was the ideal work-life integration in that I got to spend weekday time with my son in his classroom while also showing him what I do professionally. While I hope the kids learned a lot about staying healthy, I hope they also appreciated how fun it is to be a pediatrician. I saw how proud N was to have me teach his class and the look on his face while we sat in front of his class together warmed my working mommy heart.