At the front entrance of the daycare that my daughter goes to there is a big bold sign that says PLEASE REMOVE YOUR SHOES! I have, for the five years we have been part of the daycare, removed my shoes every single time I walked though that door. It doesn’t matter if my shoes are “clean” – that is I’m not tracking in mud or snow, the shoes come off no matter what. And every single day (well week day) I have watched somewhere in the neighbourhood of half the other parents completely ignore that sign. They trudge in with their flip flops, running shoes, even their winter boots. They open that door, with the big bold sign, completing ignoring the plea to take off their foot wear.
I know you’re asking, is this really a big deal? And the answer is yes, it is a big deal. It’s not such a big deal for maybe the healthy five year olds. Or the adults that run the joint, but down the hall and on the left is a room full of babies. Some just a few weeks old. All of them spending quality time on the floor exploring their big colorful room. Their little immune systems are a work in progress. They deserve, and we should expect, that they should be able to spend their days in an environment that isn’t contaminated with things like E Coli and C diff. Now I know this is a daycare and daycares are full of all kinds of bugs simply because they are full of kids. So what do we do? We enforce things like hand washing. We teach kids to cough into a tissue or their elbow. We tell parents to keep obviously sick kids home. The daycare keeps the centre as clean as possible with daily, weekly and monthly cleaning regiments. And we take our damn shoes off.
What you do in your own house is your business. If you don’t have a strict shoes off policy then that’s just fine. I don’t. We generally don’t walk around the house with our shoes on, but to be honest that’s more of a comfort and protect the hardwood floor kind of thing. I also don’t have a baby crawling around the house licking everything in sight or an immune comprised person living or frequenting my house. But the daycare is NOT your home. Even if your kid spends most of his day there. Still not your home. Hell I don’t even wear my shoes in someone else’s house unless they actually say something like “oh don’t worry about taking off your shoes.”
I am not a germaphobe. Not even close. I don’t get freaked out about all the scary chemkilz I’m told we are exposed to simply by inhaling the air around us. I’m ok with my kid eating McNuggets and Froot Loops here and there. I’m not afraid of the big scary world. But I do know there is shit (literally) on your shoes that shouldn’t be in a baby’s mouth. That’s not rocket science. It’s just regular science. Well, ok it’s biology.
Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona did a test with a brand new pair of shoes and found that within just two weeks of wearing a new shoe 440,000 units of bacteria were found on the shoe. An astonishing 27% of that total bacteria were deadly E Coli. Klebsiella pneumonia was also found, which can lead to and cause pneumonia and wound and bloodstream infections and another type of infection called Serratia ficaria, which can lead to infection of the respiratory tract.
That’s a lot of bacteria. Not to mention other things that make their way onto the ground like pesticides, oil and gas, etc. Things that have no place in a daycare. And the kicker is, the kids aren’t allowed to wear their outdoor shoes inside so I’m not sure why a parent would think it’s ok for them to. If you have an issue with walking around in your socks, throw some little slippers in your purse. If you’re barefoot throw some socks in there. I know, it might add an extra five seconds onto your pick up/drop off but suck it up buttercup. You will be ok. Just take your damn shoes off.