If Mom Had Three Minutes or Three Hands

I bet you’re wondering what the heck this photo is. It looks like it could be something scraped off a doorknob, a keyboard, or the floor of a public bathroom, doesn’t it? Worry not, it’s a close up of a glass of champagne sitting on a very cool, opaque, lit-from-within, alabaster bedside table. Yep, I’m living the high life, at least until checkout on Sunday. Even Honeymoons have to end, am I right, Jenna?


It was a lucky photo, because I planned to write about germs today. I’ve been asked to think about what I might do if I had three minutes totally to myself or three hands (presumably totally all to myself), and I sat for quite a while before I could come up with anything that could have a major impact in that amount of time. Three minutes is clearly not enough time to instill reflexive behavioral skills such as “Close the toilet lid before flushing!” when we’re still struggling with the more primitive “Flush!” skill.

It was even harder to imagine what I’d do with three hands, because people would stare, and tune out EVEN MORE while I tried to talk. The kids would never hear another word I said. Ever.

On the other (third?) hand, the kids and/or I land in the ER, urgent care, or plain ole doctor’s office sooo often (How often is that? So often that I have a Facebook album consisting entirely of photos of Waiting Room Floors. I started it only nine months ago and there are 18 photos in it already.), that I knew I had to focus on germs. And health. Mostly, keeping healthy and reducing contact with germs. Because germs bad. Health good. Me like health.

And I’m definitely all about public health. Just ask my stepdad, twice shortlisted for Surgeon General. Growing up with a pathologist in the house will put hair on your chest.

That’s why I’m always running around like a maniac when the kids walk in from school, yelling, “Everybody wash your hands and face with soap and water before homework!” And there’s always someone who tries to say they don’t have homework and then I have to throw in “before touching the remote!” But they’re almost always wrong, and no one is allowed to play video games or watch TV before EVERYONE’S homework is done, so you’d think they’d have figured that one out by now. Btw, if you have more than one kid, that’s a highly effective policy if you can enforce it. With five siblings staring that last straggler down, the peer pressure can be quite motivating.

The big message is always, “Clean your hands so no one gets sick.” Ok, mostly I’m yelling, “Wash up so I don’t get sick!” Of course, we all get sick, but we’d be LESS sick if we didn’t depend on kids’ self-assessment of cleanliness. They’d have to have a slug under a fingernail or hands caked in mud, front and back, before copping to dirty hands.

Just for giggles, I made a list of the preventable illnesses I have had in the past couple years:

  1. Flu (of course);
  2. Several colds;
  3. Swine Flu;
  4. Parvovirus B19 (also known as Fifth Disease, mild in children and severe to deadly in adults); and
  5. Two E. coli infections that ravaged my kidneys (I had to get extremely painful daily antibiotic shots for the first, and the second nearly killed me with fever just shy of 105.)

And let’s not forget the enterovirus that nearly killed my middle child, Dylan, when he was a week old. Dylan was born just a day or so after a Coxsackie exposure at Logan’s daycare. If he’d just stayed in the womb a bit longer, he’d have benefitted from my antibodies. Eight days later, he was in heart failure, and stopped breathing shortly after I brought him to the ER at the hospital where he was born. They didn’t have the level of care needed to treat him, so thank all that is good and crunchy that Stanford was just up the road and could send a critical care unit to collect him for what would be a seventeen-day stay in a Level III NICU. Long story short, he tried to die a new way every day: Supraventricular tachycardia (his heartbeat was over 300 beats per minute), acidosisarrhythmia (They kept the tiny paddles next to his bed in case they needed to use them on him again), and a few other fun wrenches viral myocarditis can throw into recovery. They kept him on a respirator and in an induced coma for most of his 17-day, $250,000 stay because being awake was too much of a strain on his heart. He came home with a mohawk from the cranial pic lines and had to be weaned from morphine addiction, very slowly, and over a long period of time. You haven’t lived until you’ve coaxed your kid through detox.

In short, I’m a little freaky about clean hands.

So, the best use of three spare minutes in our home would be to collect all handheld electronics—ipods, cell phones, TV remotes, game system remotes, and laptops, and give them a good wipedown with antibacterial wipes or with paper towels and a spray from the bleach disinfectant bottle I practically carry around in a holster. Have you FELT what collects on those things? Every time one of the kids hands me their ipod and asks me to enter my password so they can download an app, I do the flappy hand dance over the tactile experience of layers of pure bacteria and lord knows what else makes it so sticky and filmy. I don’t even want to KNOW what’s on there. Frankly, I don’t want to know why they don’t notice it in the first place. I could open my fingers and wave my palm around and it still wouldn’t fly out of my hand.

*More of the flappy hand dance*

Clearly, the fate of the world is in our hands. As parents, it’s up to us to walk that line between a healthy retention of “good bacteria” (Everyone’s gotta eat that pound of dirt before they’re 1 so they can build up immunities! Also, because it’s fun.), and going so clean-happy as to force bacteria to adapt and change to the point that they are antibiotic-resistant.

Let’s help each other, shall we? Share your personal tips for handling being a new mom and stories about what you do if you had three free minutes. Visit the If Mom Had Three Minutes tab on Clorox’s Facebook page. There’s a payoff: readers’ tips and stories will inspire a Clorox e-book called If Mom Had Three Minutes, and all contributors whose stories are chosen will have a credit in the book. You can be published! Take it from me, getting published is the A-Number-One road to fame, fortune, and roomfuls of cash that even the banks can’t handle.

Disclosure: This is a post sponsored by Clorox. Help stop the spread of germs with Clorox® disinfecting products


Back in Hollywood to Make TIme for Change

Yep, I’m back in LA, courtesy of Frigidaire for another cooking event! See, I do cook; you just have to get me out of my own kitchen first. I’m too much in the short-order cook mentality and get-the-kids-out-the-door frenzy at home.

(And I’m so sorry you’re in Hungary, dear. You’ve never actually seen me do this, have you?)

I’m here to:

…join actress Jennifer Garner and James’ Beard Award Winning Chef, Suzanne Goin for an intimate round table discussion to talk all things holiday… sharing secrets on holiday recipes and traditions to the way you settle the chaos of this time of year… This special event will help support Frigidaire’s commitment to donate $500,000 to Save the Children’s US Programs.

I’ll post pics and recipes when I get back—remember the Kids Cooking Academy? They were so fired up that they actually made awesome food with knives and bowls and mixing spoons and piping bags, and we still have the recipes in case they ever venture past the fridge to that special spot we call “the stove.”

I’m alone this time—the kids came to the Academy and to the Stain Games where they ran drills with Jennifer and were coached in fielding, pitching, and batting practice. It was a pretty awesome day, so active and fun. But they aren’t yet ready for Ye Olde Turkey Dinner Prep and Anxiety Over Cooking Time Ritual. Unfortunately. ‘Cause I’m looking forward to sharing some of the stress.

OK, off to put on my…ivory slacks. Brilliant. For cooking. WHEN WILL I LEARN?

Disclosure: My participation in Frigidaire’s Talk Turkey event was sponsored by Frigidaire who provided me with travel arrangements to and from Los Angeles to participate. I was not paid at all; I go because I support what they are doing with Save the Children.

Is It Ever OK to Leave Your Kids in the Car?


Plus? It’s illegal. If you leave a child six years or younger in a car without another child 14 or older supervising, it is a misdemeanor. If there is an accident or some harm occurs, it’s a FELONY, punishable by 6 months to 2 years in jail. My police officer friend has said he would not hesitate to arrest me if he ever caught me doing this. He’s been to one too many calls where he found a child curled up in the passenger well of a car, trying to find the least hot place to die.

According to Mindy Roberts of themommyblog.net, “0 seconds equal 0 consequences.” Leave your kid in the car for even half of a second while you run that quick errand, not only may end with horrible results, but will also lead to leaving your kids in the car again and again- for longer periods, says Mindy. After all, we do get into habits don’t we?

What do you think? Have you ever left your child unattended in the car? Is it ever okay? In the driveway? In front of the house to run back in to grab something? Tell us your thoughts!

Guest-posting on Dr. Greene.com this week!Guest-posting on Dr. Greene.com this week!

I’m so honored and excited and nervous to be invited to guest-blog on DrGreene.com Perspectives, today, and every day this week!

Today’s post is: What Happens When You’re Ready to Breastfeed But Your Baby Can’t?

Read more: http://www.drgreene.com/perspectives/2010/12/20/what-happens-when-you%E2%80%99re-ready-breastfeed-your-baby-can%E2%80%99t#ixzz18fjFWjpn

About drgreene.com:

Since 1995, DrGreene.com has been the family’s home for medical answers and gentle guidance. Pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene and an indispensable team of pediatric and health experts offer medical expertise, parental experience and a focus on healthy living in a searchable, interactive library of resources to make raising healthy families easier.

Bringing up healthy kids has long been challenging, but today’s world poses threats our parents never had to face. That’s why in addition to providing a foundation of knowledge that every parent needs to know about childhood development, diseases and difficulties, DrGreene.com offers visitors additional insight into making changes that will limit our families’ exposure to harmful environmental dangers in our everyday lives. The site contains special resources to help parents navigate decisions about healthy choices they can make to keep their families safe, such as:

* Focusing on organic and natural products
* Limiting environmental toxins
* Maintaining an active lifestyle
* Enjoying a healthy pregnancy
* Keeping a green home

The goal of DrGreene.com is to present regular, up-to-date, accurate information on all the topics important to your family’s health. DrGreene.com relies on the community of parents and caregivers like you to lend your experiences and expertise to our site. Members of our community can participate in our chats, contribute to our database of articles, share their favorite baby names and offer feedback and resources on our blogs.

Calling all pregger ladies/new moms in the Bay Area, CA!

I’ll be at the HealthTap.com offices in Palo Alto this Thursday evening for a talk with Dr. Greene, and would like to extend the invite to new and expecting moms to join me!

What: Q&A with Dr. Greene!

When: Thursday, October 28th from 2pm-4pm in Downtown Palo Alto

Where: HealthTap Offices, 575 High Street Suite 310, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Stop by, meet other pregnant women and new moms, enjoy some afternoon snacks, and chat with Dr. Alan Greene, founder of DrGreene.com. Come alone or bring your little one. We will have baby-friendly food, changing facilities, and a play area.

  • Get answers to your questions from a medical expert and father of four
  • Meet other pregnant women and new moms
  • Come alone or bring your little one
  • Enjoy some afternoon snacks
  • Participate in a drawing for Dr. Greene’s books

HealthTap helps pregnant women and new moms make better decisions about their health and well-being using data. We are growing a dynamic, exclusive community of local pregnant women and new moms, and this event is the first of many in our TapMommies Speaker Series at HealthTap’s offices.

Please rsvp here, and let us know if you have any friends who would be interested in also attending.

We’re looking forward to meeting you!

If you decide to come, shoot me an {encode=”[email protected]” title=”email”} to let me know you’ll be there so I can say hello!!

See you there!

Mindy Roberts

P.S. Read more about Dr. Greene here: