“Mommy, I don’t feel well…”

We’ve all been there (despite good hygiene, lots of sleep and vaccinations such as the flu shot), and many of us have struggled with staying home from work or arranging alternate child care for our sick kids. It’s not easy! According to a recent Shoppers Drug Mart poll, 30% of adults with children have sent sick or contagious kids to school or daycare…though 86% of parents say they are annoyed when others do this!

When an illness is serious, we know there’s no choice, and we move mountains to keep our child home to recover. But sometimes, it’s not so cut and dried…are they too sick to go or not?

Often daycares have very clear policies about when kids can and can’t be present, but school can be a bit more iffy. As a teacher, my two biggest guidelines are to keep kids home if:

1. They don’t feel well enough to be there. If they have a high fever, are sleepy, teary or in pain they won’t be in any position to learn.

2. They are contagious (or likely contagious) with something icky (not a medical term). You never want to pass on vomiting, diarrhea, rashes or other diseases like pinkeye. A good way to decide is to ask yourself how you would feel if a classmate came to school and passed the same illness along to your child (and in fact, it’s possible they did!)

Sometimes we have to make the decision about whether or not to send under-the-weather kids to optional events like sports, parties and playdates, and those two rules may not be enough to help us decide whether it would be socially acceptable to have our kids attend. For insight, I consulted Lisa Orr, etiquette expert and owner of Orr Etiquette (and a friend I’ve made as we both make appearances on THE SOCIAL) for some words of wisdom.

Lisa Orr of Orr Etiquette

According to Lisa, “illness etiquette is that you should never bring a cold, flu or disease as a hostess gift, so that means you should not attend if there is any chance you might be contagious.  A quick call to your pediatrician is always an option if you aren’t sure if your child is contagious but a good rule of thumb is if you have a child who is feverish, lethargic or is coughing and sneezing up a storm then it’s better to stay home and play another day.”

Then there’s the flip side – your child is perfectly healthy, and you want to keep it that way…so when Jenny’s mother calls and mentions that her little girl hasn’t been feeling well, is it awful to suggest that Jenny keep her germs at home? 

Lisa says, “It is absolutely not rude – and the fact that they have volunteered the information is a great sign because they’re really inviting your input for how to handle the situation. In this case I would say something like, ‘I’m so sorry to hear that she’s not well, but thank you so much for letting me know, I really appreciate it. Why don’t we reschedule our playdate,’ or, ‘It sounds like she’s not up to the party but I’d be happy to drop off her loot bag at school and we can organize another time to get together.’ In the end the sick child will get the rest they need, other children won’t get sick and your child can play with their friend when everyone is well again.”

To make sure your child stays as healthy as possible when surrounded by other children (and, almost as importantly, doesn’t gross other people out) make sure you’re teaching and reviewing the basics: using tissues for runny noses, coughing into sleeves, keeping hands off the face, and washing hands regularly.

Finally, get vaccinated: no matter where you stand on proper etiquette, flu shots should be part of the plan. You’ll get peace of mind that your children likely won’t be spreading the flu, or tracking it home from daycare, school or another gathering. Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies across the country are making it easy by offering walk-in flu immunizations administered by a pharmacist – every member of my household is vaccinated.

Now that we’ve settled that, it’s time for a giveaway!

One lucky This Mom Loves winner will receive an awesome Flu Fighters pack from Shoppers Drug Mart valued at $150 containing the following:
  • Life Brand Hand Sanitizer
  • Cough Drops
  • Vaporizing Cold Rub
  • Electrolyte Maintenance Powder
  • Disinfectant Wipes
  • Vaporizer
  • PC Chicken noodle soup
  • PC Facial tissues
  • PC Feeling Soothed Tea
  • $100 gift card
All you have to do to enter to win is post a tweet or Facebook update that contains all three of the following:

1. A link to this post (the one you’re reading right now!) 
2. A tag for @thismomloves
3. The hashtag #SDMflufighters

For example:

When to keep sick kids home – plus win a $150 prize pack from @thismomloves

Feel free to use that exact tweet, but be careful with Facebook: if you copy and paste, you still need to type @thismomloves manually or the tag won’t pop up and I won’t be notified in order to count your entry!

The giveaway runs until Monday, January 16th at midnight Eastern, after which time the entries will be totalled and a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck…and happy flu-fighting!

Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart. Opinions are, as always, my own.

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