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This year's flu is setting hospital records: What parents need to know

The goods news? There are ways to minimize your child's chances of catching the flu.

This year's flu is setting hospital records: What parents need to know

We made it through the holiday season, but we still have flu season to deal with. Don't panic though, mama—while this flu season is quite bad and has been fatal for some children it is not considered a pandemic. But there are a few things parents need to know about this particular influenza season.

According to CNN, the flu initially struck the Southeast, including states like Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi early in the season—but now, the Northeast is seeing high levels of flu activity, with New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania reaching particularly high levels.

CNN also reports that NYU Langone Health has seen a higher volume of flu patients recently—the week of December 29 alone saw a whopping 270 patients (both adults and children) in the emergency room and affiliated clinics.

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The goods news? There are ways to minimize your child's chances of catching the flu.

If your family hasn't received the flu shot yet, it's definitely worth considering, because this year's immunization is working and it's not too late to get it. The flu shot is not 100% effective in all cases, so even if your family is immunized there is still a chance you'll get sick, but experts say those who get the flu after getting the shot experience milder symptoms than those who are not immunized.

There are a few things you can do to maximize flu prevention in your household:

1. Insist on good hand hygiene

It's said often, but for good reason. We really do need to be diligent about making sure everyone is washing their hands properly at this time of year. And it doesn't hurt to throw some alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your bag for those times when there's no sink in sight.

2. Teach kids to keep their hands away from their face

We touch so many things over the course of the day and can only clean our hands so often, so the best way to keep germs out of kid's mouths, noses and eyes is to teach them to keep their hands away from them. Even for a lot of adults, touching one's face is a hard habit to break, but if we're consistent about it we can reduce our exposure to viruses that linger on door handles and shopping carts.

3. Clean your environment (and your phone)

The CDC recommends routinely cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces (like doorknobs and phones) to remove germs your family might have tracked home from work or school.

4. Get some sleep

We know it's hard for parents to prioritize their own sleep, but if you can shut off your phone a little earlier tonight, do it. According to the CDC, getting plenty of sleep, along with exercise, fluids and nutritious foods can help prime our bodies to fend off viruses.

5. Teach kids to cover their nose when a sneeze comes on

If your child comes down with something, teach them to keep the virus to themselves (as much as possible) by covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when you have to sneeze or cough and washing their hands afterward.

6. Avoid close contact with people who are sick

It is not rude to tell people to stay away from your family if they are sick (especially if you've got a newborn). If someone is fighting a virus, reschedule your visit for a few weeks from now, when they'll hopefully be feeling better.

No one can be totally, 100% protected from the flu, but we can and should take precautions, and parents should check with their pediatrician if they suspect their child has the flu.

Unlike colds, which tend to come on over a couple of days, the flu typically hits suddenly.

If you think your child may be developing flu-like symptoms, a call to the pediatrician is definitely in order. Pediatricians recommend parents seek immediate medical attention for kids who are finding it hard to breathe or are becoming confused or having a difficult time interacting with others.

Parents don't need to panic about this flu season, but we should be prepared and proactive.

[A version of this post was originally published January 9, 2019. It had been updated.]

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    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

    Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

    Letterboard

    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

    Work + Money

    100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

    From Adelia to Ziggy.

    Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

    Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


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