If you haven't already gotten the memo (or seen an abudance of signs at every pharmacy)...flu season is upon us! And actress-model Tia Mowry knows this just as well as anyone. As the mother of a 4-year-old, Mowry knows it's no easy task to keep your kid germ-free during this time of year.
The flu really is no joke, especially for kids. Every year, more than 200,000 children are hospitialized due to complications caused by the flu. So it's important to be aware of how to keep your family as healthy as can be.
Parents.com recently had the opportunity to chat with Mowry, 37, about her family-friendly tips for conquering flu season and other mom struggles.
Parents.com: What made you get involved with flu prevention?
Tia Mowry: First of all, for me, I'm a busy, working mom and I am very aware of having a hectic schedule. And I think what's on top of my list, or what's my priority, is making sure that my family is healthy—and that we stay healthy—especially during flu season. One thing that I make sure that my family is aware of is flu prevention and getting vaccinated annually. So I was really excited to partner up with FluMist Quadrivalent and AstraZeneca just to help encourage moms and families out there about flu prevention and provide tips that I can give them.
P: What's your #1, most important tip that everyone should follow?
TM: I think my #1 tip is get vaccinated, obviously. But I think another tip is wash your hands. It's something that is very easy to do—have hand sanitizer handy, especially for kids. I have hand sanitizer in my purse, in my car, in my son's playroom—and Cree knows, as soon as he gets in the car from school, he knows to wash his hands with the hand sanitizer.
Also, this is a great tip that a lot of moms may not know that I want to get out there: Once your kids come home from school, change their clothes. The flu virus hangs out on surfaces and even clothes for up to six to eight hours. So taking off their clothes and putting them in play clothes, that's a great tip.
[Another tip is] eating healthy, eating foods that are high in antioxidants to help build kids' immunity. I like to feed my son smoothies, it's one way he'll eat all of his fruits and vegetables in one without even knowing. So I'll put broccoli or spinach or avocado [in his smoothies] to help build his little immune system.
P: Beyond keeping your son healthy, what are some other challenges you've faced as a parent?
"‹TM: Well, you know, I always like to keep it real.... I have become overwhelmed three times while being a parent. First, when they're born because you're like What is this thing? Whoa, this is new! I have to provide everything for him—and there's no sleep, and blah blah blah.
Second, the terrible twos. They're throwing themselves on the ground while you're at the grocery store, you think that your child is possessed and you're just completely embarrassed. You're like Trust me, I know how to take care of my child, I'm not a terrible mother—but it's just embarrassing! I remember one time this happened to me and I was at a farmers' market and paparazzi was all around and my son decided to have a temper tantrum and [the paparazzi] are all snapping pictures. I thought everyone was going to think I was a terrible mother, and I went home and I cried. I confided in one of my friends who's a mom as well and she told me it was okay and it happens to everyone.
Then the next one is at 4 [years old]. I think it's because he's very opinionated, he knows what he wants and he knows what he does not want. When he wants his way, he wants his way—and the manipulation starts to come into play. And you're thinking my child is really manipulating me right now...how did he learn this? But the good side of it is seeing him grow and evolve. And seeing what type of person he is now—he is so expressive, the way he uses his eyes and he has all of these facial expressions. I know that's coming from me because I'm very expressive and he's getting into things. He's really good at the piano right now, he's been playing and learning how to read music for about six months. He's also playing basketball now. There's actually a really cool story: Chris Paul, the [NBA] player, saw my son next to his (he's 6 years old) and they were the same size—Cree is very tall—and Chris asked me if I had Cree in basketball yet. And Chris told me about this great league where he could play and I'm like This is Chris Paul talking to me, this is CRAZY. So I told him, oh my God, yeah, sure! At the time all of the submissions were closed but Chris was able to get my son into the league and now Cree has his little trophy and it's amazing! I almost peed myself watching the first game, but now he's got the hang of it.
I just love seeing him evolve and become this little person. I think that's the responsibility of a parent, to see what your child is good at and nurture them and help them grow, so that by the time they're a teenager, they're equipped.
P: Do you have any specific moments that have stuck out to you and made you think "Wow, I am such a mom?"
"‹TM: Oh gosh, yeah! My legs not being shaved!
P: Mom or not, I think unshaven legs is a struggle every woman deals with!
"‹TM: But I mean on top of your nails not being done—you're just not groomed at all. Who has time for that now?! You have got to get in the shower, do what you have to do, get out and take care of your child.
P: Have you ever received any really bad, or really great, parenting advice?
TM: As for great parenting advice, I was told to really make sure that you have 'me time,' because the more you nurture yourself, the more you can be the best mom that you can possibly be. If you're depleted and tired, then you're frustrated and you don't want to be that mom. So take a little time for yourself and that's okay!