Thursday, January 3, 2008

The "What to Expect Guide to a Healthy Home"

I need to tell you the grossest thing I ever witnessed since becoming a mom, but first I have to tell you a few other things.

Especially during my first pregnancy, I read countless pregnancy books. Cover to cover. I still remember that Amazon box arriving with no less than 12 thick books inside. And that was just the first shipment.

But it was my dusty old booksale copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff, that I read first and that seemed the most comprehensive when I was up at night, worried about one thing or another.

Murkoff is still actively advising new mothers, most recently with her "What to Expect: Guide to a Healthy Home," available for free here through a partnership with The Clorox Company. She also has launched a Web site, What to Expect, that's worth a look for any new parent.

Now, the gross-out story:

I was at an amusement park, standing in line for a ride. A young couple was in front of me, with a toddler perched on the mom's hip. The child was sucking on a pacifier, and it popped out of his mouth and landed on the ground. The mom barely stopped talking with her mate as she swooped down, picked up the pacifier, stuck it in her mouth to "clean" it, and popped it back in the child's mouth.

As if this wasn't gross enough, the scenario played out again no less that EIGHT TIMES before it was their turn to get on the ride. I have never, ever been so grossed out at another parent's actions.

Thanks for letting me share that, I feel so much better. Also, if that was you at the amusement park, or if you don't see the gross factor here, DOWNLOAD THIS PAMPHLET NOW!

OK, back to the "What to Expect: Guide to a Healthy Home." My main criteria when looking it over was whether it 1) taught me something new and 2) validated my neurotic germ-phobic behaviors. Happily, it passed on both counts, and I'm the proud owner of some brand new neurotic behaviors to boot.

To her credit, Murkoff keeps it low key, assuring readers that we live in a extremely clean conditions here the 21st century U.S. of A. The perfectionist in you can appreciate the desire to make it even cleaner, and as I always say, knowledge is power.

Did you know that if you flush the toilet with the cover open you create a "mini bacteria volcano"? Holy new neurotic habit, Batman!

Murkoff advises washing your hands BEFORE changing a diaper, something that never occured to me to do, and which I'm probably too lazy to ever do unless I was deboning a chicken when the smell of poop permeated the air.

Did you know that people who wash their hands seven times a day on average have about four times fewer colds than the average person? It's worth the dry, cracked skin after all!

I'm forever grateful to Murkoff for validating my staunch refusal to let my kids drink from public water fountains, or bubblers, as we like to call them here in Boston. She didn't go into the details as to why not, and I'm forever grateful for that, too.

She also gently told me that I have to stop picking my nose to set a good example for the children. Oh, I kid. I do it in the bathroom. Did you know you should wash your hands before you pick your nose? I am dead serious. Although Murkoff didn't say that, just to be clear. I extrapolated that fact for myself.

Clearly I am getting way too silly for what is a serious topic: the health of our families. This book taught me a few things and validated me on a few others, and I recommend that you check it out, too. It's here, in case you forgot.

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