I *heart* hand sanitizer. Not the smell, or how it drains every last bit of moisture from my hands. No. What I love is how it makes me feel like I'm giving a big middle finger to all the icky germs circulating. Now I know it isn't perfect. In fact, there are some out there who claim it really does little to prevent illness. But to me it's like a little superhero in my purse. And, yes, the kidlet uses it as well (in tiny, toddler-sized doses).
There are many in my life who mock my use (obsession) of hand sanitizer. They make fun of me when I take a pump from the wall-mounted unit at the entrance of the mall - both when I arrive AND when I leave. I don't like touching handles or doors that hundreds of others have touched before me...who knows where their hands have been! And don't even get me started on grocery carts. So.Gross. You can practically see the rota and rhino viruses scurrying across the handles (I have a great grocery cart cover which I use - religiously).
You may think I'm a germaphobe. Maybe I am. But in my defense, my love of hand sanitizer started during cancer treatment, which also happened to be in the height of SARS (staff took your temperature and sprayed your hands at the front entrance of the hospital!) You didn't mess around at that time, and it stuck with me.
Now that the kidlet is in daycare, I have little control over the germs she both picks up and brings home to us. I do my best to get her to wash her hands (yes, I would always choose a good hand washing over sanitizer any day), and disinfect the house when a particularly nasty bug shows up. But I also think it's my job to protect her little growing immune system. So many people have told me, "It's good they catch stuff...it helps build their immune systems." Sure. Ok. But there is evidence the fewer illnesses they get the better - lots of germs don't do any immune system building - they just make everyone miserable for 5-7 days.
We had a very sick winter last year, and this year has been *marginally* better. But we've still done the pneumonia thing once, at least 3-4 colds, and a particularly aggressive stomach bug (which passed through our whole house and jumped to visiting grandparents - sorry about that). We are hanging on for spring. One month...one month...
The reason I'm so craAAAzy about germs is because of the domino effect. It isn't just about the kidlet getting a snotty nose and leaving boogers all over our house, the dog, and us. It's because when she gets sick, she stops sleeping. We're talking night and day - we're up. Which means we also get super sleep deprived, which isn't ideal when you're trying to build a business that is completely reliant on one person - you. Then there's the no daycare trickle effect. If she's sick enough, she can't do daycare. One of the reasons we reorganized our work lives was so I could stay home with her in cases like this. However, now that work is getting busier, if I lose one of my three days I work during the week, I am instantly behind. Which means even if I had two hours of sleep the night before from nursing a sick kid, I'm up until 2 a.m. trying to meet deadlines. Those are really tough weeks, when I long to have no responsibility outside of taking care of my snotty, or barfy, peanut.
So basically, next time you see me buying an extra large bottle of hand sanitizer, don't judge. Or if I opt out of a visit because you or your kid *might* be coming down with something, don't think I'm overreacting. Trying to nurture a kidlet and a business, both which feel like full time jobs a lot of the time, is hard. And all it takes is one little germ to derail the train.