Anyone with kids in childcare knows this sentence: “Sick children need to stay home until symptom-free for 24 hours.”
I have 3 kids. Sometimes one runs a fever for 2 hours and is fine for the rest of the day. Do I want them to go to daycare the next day? YES. Does my heart sink every time I realize how much I’m paying for childcare when there are days my kids don’t even go? YES. Do I miss out on my once a week solo trip around Target with a cup of Starbucks in hand when my kids have to stay home? YES. YES. YES.
But as I sit in a hospital room with my 19-month-old son who is struggling to breathe, I remember this is why I am a stickler for the 24-hour rule. Maybe someone who only had a fever for a couple hours yesterday went to school today and passed around whatever made them run that fever. They have a strong immune system, and it didn’t really affect them.
But maybe that child is in a class with another child who has a weak immune system, a child who is prone to catching every single sickness. Trust me, I understand how stir crazy staying home with sick kids can be (especially when they’re acting like they feel fine!). But I am begging you from the bottom of my heart to please keep your sick kids at home. Not at school, not at the grocery store because you didn’t take them to school but you still need to run errands, not at the park where they probably won’t breathe on anyone, but AT. HOME.
Mama, I know you need a break. That little boy is rowdy. That little girl is sassy. You have a deadline at work. Maybe you pay for a day of Mom’s Day Out a week so that you can just sit down for a couple hours. But next time you send that sassy girl or rowdy boy to daycare and it’s only been 10 hours, or even 20 hours, please think about the other kids your child will come in contact with and the other moms who will have to stay home, take off work, or miss out on their Target trip.
Right now our 4-year-old is at Grandma’s, wondering why his mama hasn’t seen him much this week. My husband is at work, after 3 nights in a row sleeping in a hospital chair with nurses and doctors in and out every hour. My daughter is fighting her own, less-scary version of this sickness, and her parents aren’t there to snuggle her.
Kids are little germ factories. At an age where they are constantly putting hands in their mouths, picking their noses, sharing sippy cups and each other’s food, I think it’s even more important to be a stickler for this rule. It takes a village to raise a child.
The way you can be MY village is to leave your sick kids at home.