WHEN YOUR CHILD IS HOME SICK
Note: Even with children in home- or virtual schooling, the possibility of being “too sick for school” is still relevant. If you’re among the majority whose normal schooling program has changed for spring 2020, take advantage of the opportunity to observe firsthand what pushes your kids’ “I feel lousy” buttons.
Remember when you were a kid and a bad cold was a privilege—a day of being pampered with special attention and extra television time? Perhaps you were even one of those youngsters (I promise I won’t tattle) who felt conveniently sick whenever going to school seemed like too much effort.
Now, you’re facing the other side of the coin when one of your children wakes up complaining of a sore throat or stomachache:
- Could he be faking it to get out of school?
- Can you afford a day off to nurse her?
- Is it really as minor as it seems?
Beating the “Playing Sick” Game
Head off “sick because they want to be” problems with open communication. A child who talks himself into sickness is a child who dreads facing peers, teachers, or assignments for some reason, and is trying to avoid the challenge in his own way because he doubts his parents will help. Let your kids know, through words and actions, that you will always listen to their concerns and help them find solutions. Keep encouraging their self-reliance and problem-solving skills.
Homemaker–Nurse: Two Jobs For No Pay
Even stay-at-home parents have things to do besides wait on a bedridden child. Reduce your steps by leaving toys and drinking water within reach, scheduling times for lunch/reading together, and being clear on what isn’t emergency enough to call you for. And remember: if you’re too attentive, you may make recovery look unattractive by comparison.
Sickness in the House—Where Every Adult Works Full Time
If the stay-at-home parent has difficulty juggling housekeeping and nursing, the household with no stay-at-home parents is in a worse bind. You can’t leave a six-year-old alone with a low fever, and you may not be able to make alternate arrangements on short notice.
Avoid panic scenes by making your contingency plan while everyone is healthy:
- See if your employer allows sick leave to care for family members.
- See if your children’s day-care center has a “sick room” (and what extra payment and/or advance notice is required).
- Ask your community/religious center about special services.
- Arrange for retired relatives or neighbors to be on call in case of emergency. (Do something special for them in return.)
When to Call on Professional Help
Finally, while you shouldn’t be the panic-prone parent who rushes to the emergency room at every cough, there are times to consult a doctor promptly:
- A fever climbs above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
- A child vomits excessively, or can’t hold anything down.
- Coughing/sneezing is combined with pain in the chest or sinuses.
- Urination is painful.
- A rash is oddly colored or sensitive to the touch.
- A child is gasping for breath.
Again, don’t panic. Especially for vaccinated and well-nourished children, really serious illness is the exception. Chances are your child will soon be up and about again, and you’ll all be back to business as usual.