The Germophobe

I’ve always been a bit obsessed with/ worried by germs. For as long as I can remember, I’ve avoided touching certain things and washed my hands A LOT. My hands just don’t feel right until they’ve been washed.

Swine flu made me more obsessive. All those adverts showing people sneezing, then touching hand rails and door handles and other people touching them… Bleurgh.

I started avoiding touching more things. And washing my hands more. And using A LOT of squirty hand sanitiser. My kids have been brought up on squirty hand sanitiser. Much to my husband’s disgust, who comes from the the school of ‘you need a few germs to stop you from being ill’. I say MY way is right, because I never get ill – even when I’m looking after the kids and they’re ill. I totally credit my hygiene practises for avoiding passing illnesses on (I’m touching wood here, but illnesses don’t ever get passed on in our house).

It was inevitable that the hygiene messages would pass on to my kids.

A couple of years ago, I felt almost proud when I saw my daughter open a public toilet door with her sleeve. I hadn’t taught her to do that, but she’d learned it by watching me. I never touch anything ‘dirty’ with my fingertips. It’s always the heel of my hand, the side of my hand, my sleeve or the bottom of my Tshirt or hoodie.

But all of a sudden my daughter is going too far and I’ve realised I’ve done some damage that I need to unpick.

I see her freeze in front of doors in public places as she doesn’t want to touch them. She won’t put her bag on the floor of a train as the floor is dirty (I’ve never had a problem with putting my bag on the floor). She won’t sit at a table in a coffee shop with crumbs on it – or even crumbs on the floor.

My daughter has become a germophobe and it’s all my fault.

Everything I did, I did because I thought it was right for the kids and for me. Now I realise I’ve gone too far. Now I’m having to tell her it’s OK to touch things (even with our fingertips) as long as we wash our hands before eating and don’t put our fingers in our mouths. It doesn’t matter if there are crumbs on the floor and there’s no problem with putting bags on the floor.

I’m having to touch things I don’t want to touch myself to show her that it’s OK. And I’m having to ease up on the squirty hand sanitiser.

I worry that I will have caused permanent issues for her. I’m hoping that I can get her back on track and that it’s not too late to undo the damage I’ve done.

hand sanitiser, daughter, germs

Author: Sarah Mummy

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10 Comments

  1. This could easily be me in a few years. I freeze when I look at lifts! Think I might try and chill a bit for my daughters though. Thanks for sharing x

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    • Good luck with it! I’ve seen now that it’s definitely worth easing up a bit. x

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  2. My inlaws are complete germophones and my hubby is a bit like that too although he’s calmed down a lot over the last 10 years. My dad sounds like your hubby, to the extent where the other week United utilities issued warnings to some areas saying to boil and cook water before drinking because of some bug in the water that was causing fever and vomiting. His response was something like “nonsense! We all need a few germs!!” …err, no Dad 🙂

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    • Oh my goodness! No way! Even my hubby would follow the advice to boil the water in that situation.

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  3. My sister in law is ultra sensitive about hygiene and, like you, has passed it to her daughter, but magnified. Sounds like you’re doing all the right things to pull her back from it though – must be very difficult for you.

    I’m afraid I’m a bit like your husband – but then I’m always getting ill!

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    • You’ve proved my point with the illness thing! 😉
      Interesting to read that your sister-in-law has passed it on to her daughter too. It seems like girls are more susceptible to these messages. My sister-in-law was really bad a few months ago, but she’s chilled right out now and I’m definitely trying!

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  4. Sounds like you’re doing the right thing.

    I’m totally the opposite. Ok, yes washing hands when required – toilet, before meals. But I hate cleaning so only do it when it really needs it or we’ve got visitors coming. (I do clean the kitchen round and the toilets though, just not hoovering all the time like the OH would do). Mostly I just begrudge spending all my time cleaning when a lot of the time it’s not actually mess that I’ve made or brought in from outside, and I hate cleaning up after others.

    It makes me laugh at work, because there’s a few people who are obsessive about wiping over every desk, keyboard and mouse before they use it. (We have ‘hotdesking’). I think I’ve only ever wiped a different desk when I knew someone had sat there with a cold, but mostly I sit in the same desk so don’t see the point. I don’t get any iller than others who do wipe, so to me it’s a waste of time

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    • I’m not keen on cleaning and only do it grudgingly, but I’m an obsessive hand washer!
      We had hotdesking where I used to work too and it filled me with horror if I ever had to sit at a desk where someone who’d had a bug had sat. I used A LOT of hand sanitiser. I was the only one though, so people probably thought I was weird (or maybe they didn’t notice as they were at home sick!).

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  5. My daughter is a nightmare with getting her hands dirty and it is totally my fault because I am obsessed with wipes and wiping her hands. I have stopped the wipes and she is slowly getting better. Good for you for having such a health record though I guess it goes to show that you can control germs if you are careful enough.

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