Cosy woollen socks, toasty cuddles under a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate – winter is almost here, and we can’t wait to spend this season with our families. But as all parents know, winter also brings plenty of sniffles and coughs.

With the cold and flu season already underway, it’s time we look at other preventive measures to keep our family healthy, especially with so much overlap in the symptoms of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few tips and tricks to remember.

Travel safely

Many of us spend our winter holidays with extended family, and 2020 has done enough to keep families apart. It’s time to start solidifying those travel plans right away. If you’re going to spend winter with older members of the family, especially those over the age of 65, make sure you get tested for COVID-19 before you fly and refrain from touching each other when you meet. Hugs and kisses seem to be a thing of the past, and your children might even thank you for not forcing them to hug distant relatives this year!

Obtain fit-to-fly certificates for all family members before you travel, book a flight in the middle of the week to avoid crowds and carry all your essentials with you. Packs of sanitary wipes are best for cleaning sticky fingers and surfaces before and after the children touch something, and they slip easily into your carry-on bags.

A healthy diet is key

Boost your family’s immune system to keep their health in check throughout the year, and especially during winter when they are more vulnerable. Healthy, nutritious meals packed with vitamins help our bodies fight infections and make us stronger to overcome illness.

Are your children fussy with their greens? Just juice them up and add them to smoothies, rice and pasta with veggies and meat to distract them. Cook with plenty of herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, turmeric, lemons, pepper, honey and berries for a good balance of immunity-boosting vitamins and minerals.

Hydration is very important during the winter months, too. Because our bodies are cool, we tend to neglect drinking enough water. Set reminders for the whole family, place reusable water bottles all around the house and reduce your family’s sugar intake from packaged juices and fizzy drinks. If the children get fussy, simply add a drop of lemon juice or other natural fruit juice to their water to encourage them.

Encourage hand-washing

There’s nothing like good old-fashioned soap and water to get rid of germs on our hands. Make hand-washing a fun family activity by leading by example and making it a part of your routine several times a day. Buy soap in fun shapes and colours, and keep a small, clean towel nearby for drying.

Experts recommend that we scrub our hands, fingers and nails for at least 20 seconds – roughly the amount of time taken to sing Happy Birthday or Mary Had A Little Lamb – so it can be fun for children of all ages. You can also look for handy packs and guides with reward charts to encourage the younger ones.

Health is wealth this winter

Whatever happens, the flu is not completely avoidable for families with children in the winter. Establish a few ground rules inside your home and make them easy enough for kids to remember when they’re out, visiting with family and friends or travelling. Dress appropriately wherever you are, and encourage an active lifestyle.

Ultimately, children will follow your example. So keep your health in check, and the rest of the family should easily be able to follow suit.