You're late for work and you have a sick child. You've used all your sick days and vacation days this year, now what?! It is a problem that as moms, we all face at one time or another. Getting a day off for a sick child is not always easy. Sometimes we feel that it puts our very job in jeopardy.
Just this week my oldest son informed me he felt terrible. I could see from his pale face and runny nose that he did not feel well. He called his place of employment, a pizza place, to let them know he was sick. Much to my surprise, they still wanted him to come in to work.
While a runny nose might not interfere with him completing his work, it's definitely not what I would want to see as a customer coming in to eat! Yes, I know there are cleanliness rules in place, however germs often become airborne and can land on surfaces or even food!
This started me thinking about how often we end up going to work, school, church or daycare while sick. With preschool and early elementary age children, we know that the youngsters probably aren't going to wash their hands and are much less likely to cover a sneeze. All of this means that a child with a cold is most likely going to be contagious. Unfortunately, this means it's best to keep that child home.
Many times a common cold can be managed while still attending school. Certain types of illnesses are better off treated at home. Depending on the type of illness the child may or may not be better off at home. A cough can actually make a child feel really tired, plus it spreads germs around. Going to school with a sore throat is miserable. While the agonizing decision is hard to make, it must be done.
Although I no longer work outside the home, there was a time when I too faced this dilemma. Especially agonizing when you are a single mom, trust me, I've been there. So, I completely understand the dilemma of working moms and dads. Your boss expects you to be at work, but your child is sick and now you are faced with a tough and agonizing decision. Send the child to school or stay home?
When to stay home with a sick child
Diarrhea and vomiting are two symptoms that pretty much guarantee staying home! If you disagree, please read this post “We've been up all night vomiting.” If a child is vomiting or has diarrhea, its important that those symptoms be completely resolved before you send your child to daycare (including church!) or school. If you are unsure of how to handle these symptoms, ask your doctor, and please don't give your child sugary sprite or other soft drinks. Bottom line: Keep your child at home if she has vomited twice or more in the last 24 hours.
If your child has a fever of 101 or higher, keep them home. This goes for adults as well! If you have a fever, stay home from work. Now, I know that is easier said than done, but if possible, please stay home and treat yourself. If it is absolutely impossible to stay home at least wear a mask. That will teach your boss a lesson about making sick people come to work!
Other illnesses like pink eye or the flu? Absolutely do not send your child to mingle among peers. These illnesses are easily spread and it is very important to keep the child home. Unfortunately, in America, sick leave to attend our sick children is not a given.
A recent study of 190 countries by researchers at Harvard and McGill Universities found that 163 nations guarantee paid sick leave. The Netherlands offers two years. New moms in 177 countries are guaranteed paid leave; 74 countries offer it for new dads. Forty-nine nations guarantee paid time off to parents to care for sick children. Read more.
It's important to know your rights as a parent. Make sure you understand the policy at your place of employment BEFORE your child gets sick. Is it possible to work from home while caring for your sick child? If you know that it is completely out of the question to miss work to care for your sick child, make arrangements with a “sick child care provider” well before the need arises. Remember, if you have a plan, you won’t need to make a frantic decision.
Another possible option for sick days is to see if parents can tag team. Mom could stay home the first half of the day, then after lunch go in to work while Dad takes over the child care. This allows both parents to get some work done while the child is being cared for at home (and not sharing germs with classmates.)
Don't be afraid to ask favors. I remember in the past feeling terrible about asking, but my Aunt Elaine, my Mom and my Mimi all pitched in and helped. They took turns helping when my littles couldn't go to daycare. However, that's what family is for. You might even think about asking your relatives before the situation happens if the circumstance were to arise, would they be willing to help.
It's really helpful if you can be prepared by having a clean up kit handy for the caretaker as well as keeping written instructions handy. While many common illnesses cannot be avoided, you can practice prevention methods, like avoiding sugar, getting regular chiropractic adjustments and keeping your child in superior health.
In the meantime, Sign then petition to Tell Congress to Support the Healthy Families Act.
What do you do when your child is sick and you need to stay home from work? What suggestions would you offer a fellow mom? Please share in the comments below!