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How To Keep Your Child (And Others' Children) Relatively Germ Free At Public Soft Play Areas.

Updated on November 15, 2009

I'll be honest with you, I've been a hard-core germaphobe for as long as I can remember.

Much like the obsessive compulsive fictional character Adrian Monk, I never leave the house without my trusty hand wipes - oh yeah, and my trial size hand sanitizer.

It is this profound fear that often kept me from allowing my toddlers from romping around in our local mall's soft play area.

Setting fear aside however, I've been a somewhat 'sane' mommy as of late, and have allowed my daughters to frequent this public play area (especially on days that the weather isn't conducive to outside play).

However, anyone that suffers from Mysophobia (also known as germaphobia), can tell you that no matter how much you attempt to control your fear, it still lies in the dark recesses of your mind, willing and ready to pounce at any given moment.

As expected, my Mysophobia (germaphobia) resurfaced with a vengeance when my youngest one had an "accident" in said play area. Needless to say, I was petrified!

If my toddler had an "accident", how many other children (through no fault of their own, mind you) have had "accidents" in the soft play area? - Were my children playing amongst a urine and fecal stained play area?

And let's not forget the parent's that bring their under-the-weather, coughing, sneezing, and runny nosed children to play (which I believe we've all been guilty of one time or another).

I immediately saw the once bright and cheerful play area in a different light. No longer the fun, cheery, and safe place to play; I now viewed it as germ infested and quite worthy of a Hazmat team.

After informing the mall's maintenance crew about the accident (which they immediately cleaned up); pushing me a little closer to the edge, was the information provide by the maintenance worker regarding the fact that most parents forgo telling them when and if their child has had an "accident."

Thereby, making it highly possible that my children (and others' children) have played amongst the urine, fecal, and regurgitation residual of others!

From that moment on, instead of letting my fear of germs rob my children of the pleasure of enjoying their childhood, I decided to take constructive measures to keep my children (and others' children) relatively germ free while playing in any public soft play area.

Here are ten simple and common sense tips for keeping your child (and others' children) relatively germ free at their local public soft play area...

1.) Most; if not all; soft play areas provide hand sanitizer dispensers. Therefore, before and after playing, rub a small amount (about half a dime size will do) of hand sanitizer on your toddler's hand. In the event your soft play area doesn't provide this service, always bring along your own.

2.) Inquire as to how often the play area is cleaned and disinfected (the one my toddlers frequent is cleaned and disinfected every three hours on a daily basis). In the event no one at the establishment can provide satisfactory answers, maybe it's in your child's best interest to frequent a different soft play area.

3.) Always check the play area before your child begins to play, for remnants of food and other items they may pick up and stick in theirmouths (which is another way germs are spread).

4.) Be considerate and comply with the no eating and drinking rules (this will prevent children from picking up food, or other items, off the ground and putting them in their mouths and drinking from other childrens' or adults' drink).

5.) In the event your child has an "accident", immediately inform mall security and they will see to it that it is cleaned and disinfected as quickly as possible.

6.) Be considerate, and follow the play area's rule regarding removing your child's shoes before allowing them to play. This cuts down on transferring dirt and germs from your child's shoes onto the play equipment.

7.) Always ensure your child is wearing a clean pair of socks every-time they play (in the event your child has a cut on his/her foot, it can easily become infected by germs and bacteria faster than if he/she were wearing socks).

8.) If you're child is sick, please, please, please, leave them at home. Not only will close contact put others' at risk of getting sick, but coughing and sneezing releases germ filled droplets into the surrounding air and onto the play equipment.

9.) Even if your child doesn't appear sick, teach them to make it a habit of sneezing and coughing in the crook of their arm.

10.) Just for added protection, use a baby wipe to wipe off his/her arms, legs, and face once their playtime is over.

Realistically, because germs (particularly bacteria) possess the ability to grow and divide every 20 minutes (which is about the amount of time I allow my daughters to play; short five minutes), and since they are absolutely everywhere, we can't possibly protect our children - or ourselves for that matter - from every single strand.

Our best line of defense then, is to use common sense practices such as these, to reduce your child's risk of being adversely effected by them.

In the end, it's every parents' desire to raise a happy and healthy child.

So do your part and help keep your child - as well as others' children - as relatively germ free at public soft play areas.

copywrite © 2009.


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