Warning: Very large soapbox ahead
Let’s get right to the center of the argument.
If your kids are sick, keep them home. I’m talking home from day care, home from school, home from the grocery store, church, family functions, play dates, birthday parties, and restaurants.
There are several reasons this will benefit everyone…
It is hard enough to “be good” sitting at a table in a restaurant when everyone feels well and happy. I don’t know about you, but eating out at this point is an adventure. I never know quite what will happen next. However, when my 21 month old has a headache that he can’t tell me about, a nose that won’t stop running or is so red and sore that it hurts to wipe it gently, or is tired from being up in the night because he can’t breathe, he is bound to act… well… sick. He is more grumpy, less patient, and less tolerant of the little things that might happen when we are out of our routine. When adults don’t feel well, they don’t perform as well in life roles. We all get crabby from time to time and being sick magnifies this. It is unfair to children to expect them to behave in situations that are a bit tricky anyway when they don’t feel good.
2. Sharing germs isn’t kind.
I am NOT on the “come on over for a chicken pox play date” bandwagon. In fact, I have barricaded my door to that theory. My kids will get sick and that is all normal. I’ve read the information and I work in the medical field. I realize illness builds immunity but I will not purposefully expose my children to disease. If your child is sick, give me a heads up. I will politely reschedule, decline the play date, drop off the birthday present or excuse my sons and myself from the situation. I don’t think less of you or your child because you can’t attend the party or the get together. I appreciate and respect your honesty and compassion for myself, my children and your own family. In the same way, know that my declining your invitation if I have a sick little boy is not meant to be hurtful, my baby just needs to rest up and get well.
3. Having sick kids is exhausting… for the grownups and the child.
You may have a 13 year old who can wipe their own nose and cover their own cough and make it to the bathroom every time. I do not. I would bet that you can remember the days of having a baby or toddler who was up all night every time they had a bug. When my child catches your child’s cold, I am up all night rocking, snuggling, and comforting. I will never turn down cuddles, not even in the middle of the night, but there is something about having a sick child that is exhausting, on top of the typical exhaustion of parenting. I know you remember it. And then the second baby gets it. Rinse and repeat.
4. Not all children have a strong immunity.
I am blessed with two healthy boys. I am lucky. There are families who have children with compromised immune systems and they take every precaution to protect their children while still allowing them to be kids. Cancer treatments, syndromes, and limited mobility and/or respiratory function, among others, can cause decreased immunity. The world will expose us to bacteria, viruses, infections, and diseases daily, just by stepping outside, no need to add to the list.
I get it. It isn’t always easy. Parent’s employers often don’t allow for time off for illness, let alone to take care of sick children. Children can be “sick” before the symptoms show up. I am simply pointing out that kids act like kids. They have little to no personal bubble, they wipe noses on the backs of their hands, they share toys and snacks and play closely together. They will get colds and stomach bugs and they will recover. Allowing children time to heal in a safe, comfortable place for them is kind and compassionate. They need the rest and the care and the downtime so they can be back out in the yard and at school playing with voracity. So stay home and enjoy the snuggles and the naps when necessary.