It’s the time of year when coughs and colds start doing the rounds and tummy bugs are on the rise. It tends to start with the kids, who believe that “sharing is caring” and do so generously, both at home and at school.

As I write, it’s a school day and yet the strains of Taylor Swift are drifting in from the conservatory, where Daughter is curled up with a book and surrounded by snotty tissues.

The Other Half and I are not exactly pushovers when it comes to school absences. We both had parents (and grandparents) who, if you were breathing, would pack you off to school in the belief that you’d either feel better an hour or two into the day, or would be sent home again if you weren’t.

We tend to follow the same principle. Daughter once got a badge for 100% attendance: “It’s not as if I have any say in the matter,” she moaned.

Yesterday, even she was keen to go into school; not only did she have a piece of homework she was dying to show to her teacher (a jellyfish named Arnold, made from recycling and with sustainable messages written on his tentacles), but she was also dying to go Christmas shopping with her mates.

“If you’re not well enough to go to school…” I warned, again along the lines of my own upbringing.

A little too late for our benefit came some advice from NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Reid (kind of like a local version of Sir Chris Whitty), about how to prevent and treat winter bugs. From vaccinations and healthy habits to good hand hygiene, it’s all in there, and largely common sense.

These include knowing where is best to get help for illness and injury, from your local pharmacist, your GP, NHS111 online, Cornwall’s network of minor injury units and the urgent treatment centre (UTC) at West Cornwall - locations and waiting times can be found online, and it’s worth bearing in mind that your nearest option might not be your quickest.

You could also turn to the free HANDi app, developed by NHS organisations in Devon (but let's not hold that against it), which has a symptom checker and offers advice on how to treat common childhood illnesses at home, and when to seek medical help.

Ensuring your child is up to date with immunisations against illnesses such as measles, meningitis and flu is very important. I admit an epic fail on this count, having failed to sign Daughter up for the nasal flu vaccination at school.

“I couldn’t believe you hadn’t given permission – you never let me off,” said Daughter with ill-disguised glee. She’s right – I’m a firm believer in the science of vaccination, and it was sheer lack of organisation that let me down on this occasion. A visit to the GP might be in order to rectify the situation.

The “clean hands and bin tissues” point is a bone of contention in our house. Icky tissues are strewn around the house, charting Daughter’s route as surely as Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs.

Regular handwashing is also paramount, and remember: alcohol hand gels are not effective against tummy bugs such as norovirus (and you don’t want that, trust me – I speak from experience).

A well-stocked medicine cabinet is recommended, complete with thermometer and children’s ibuprofen/paracetamol (in-date). I have no idea where our thermometer is – I imagine there are probably a few of them down the backs of our sofas, having a party with 20 nail clippers and a drawerful of ballpoint pens.

I do have paracetamol; however, it would be helpful if a pharma company would create a product for teens, as dosing them up with liquid medicine labelled 6+ really doesn’t go down terribly well.

Healthy habits lead to healthy kids, so Dr Chris recommends a routine that promotes well-being - a balanced diet, regular exercise and sufficient sleep - to help them fight off infection.

I’m the only one who cooks, and when I’m busy (as I am at the moment, with seasonal work three evenings a week), things slide towards pizza and ready meals. Must do better #1.

And Daughter is a proper night owl, reading and notebooking way after bedtime. Must do better #2.

Finally, keep your little ones warm and dry by dressing them in layers and ensuring they are protected against the elements, by providing waterproof clothing.

Daughter's last foray into festive Truro was an incredibly wet one, hence the sniffles. Daughter does not do coats, and certainly not waterproof ones, but I’m pleased to say she’s wearing a sensible jumper and jogging bottoms right now, rather than parading around the house in a crop-top and shorts. This could change if she ever works out how to turn the central heating on.

I take some comfort in the fact that, as a teenager, she’s a lot less likely to come home with nits, which were alarmingly prevalent at primary school.

After the trials of the last few years, I wish you good health this winter – and a well-stocked medicine cupboard if not.