No matter how hard we try, everyone swaps germs with everyone else this time of year. Every time you drop your kiddos off at daycare and hear a cough, a sneeze, or someone clearing their throat (which, if we’re being honest, sounds like someone coughing up a lung), all you can think is, ew. Swiftly followed by, I really hope my little one doesn’t bring this home.
But that’s the nature of daycare. Kids sneeze at each other. They can be lax when it comes to washing their hands and sanitizing before they touch something or put it in their mouth. Now, being exposed to all of this can be beneficial in building up their immune system.
However, despite the benefits of immune building, many of us have problems when a sick child is sent to daycare. And we’re not talking sniffles that could be allergies or a dry cough that their pediatrician said was from post-nasal drip at night. We’re talking about the kid you know is unwell, but you give them Tylenol, hoping to drop their 102-degree fever long enough to drop them off and get to work before anyone notices (or the Tylenol wears off).
Most Parents Can Relate
Desperate times call for desperate measures, we know. But bringing your sick kid to daycare is never the answer. To begin with, when your little one doesn’t feel well, they need rest. They need relaxation. And they will not get either at daycare. You run the risk of them getting sicker or exacerbating their symptoms. On top of all that, you’re practically guaranteeing another parent and child the same fate. Spreading germs and viruses isn’t difficult, especially when you’re a two-foot, boogery, exhausted small person. How do I know? Well, I’m living it.
While I don’t know the source of contagion, I have my thoughts. My daughter has noticed many of her classmates coughing, sneezing, and falling asleep in class occasionally for the past few weeks, then disappearing for a time. To no one’s shock or surprise, it’s made the rounds, and both she and I are miserable and in agony – in the privacy of our own home. But here’s the thing: I don’t blame parents for getting sick. Cold and flu season extends from December to February, so it’s bound to happen. What matters is how you deal with the recovery process that gets my tissues in a bunch.
Kids Bring Those Germs Home
Oh, and you know that sickness isn’t limited to just your child and getting the rest of the class sick. They bring all those glorious, germy coughs and sky-high fevers home. What happens when your child gets little Sonny sick and Sonny’s grandma, who lives with him, has a compromised immune system? As far-fetched as it might sound, it’s a realistic scenario.
Bringing your sick kid to daycare creates a ripple effect beyond them. Unfortunately, kids and their families face a triple threat this school year. Cold and flu season is especially unbearable as Covid-19, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) continue spreading like wildfire. Chances are slim to none that your family will go the entire season without picking up something.
This was the exact conversation we had with our pediatrician during an annual check-up. In November, she said things were particularly worrisome already. And no, it hasn’t gotten any better. She told my daughters that even if they only had a cold, sniffles, or cough, it would be the right thing to do to wear a mask to school. To protect themselves as well as their classmates and teachers. So, we did. After her fever finally ceased and she had enough energy to return, she masked up. Did I get stares and looks that could kill when we both showed up this way? Yeah. But at least I knew I did the right thing by keeping her home when she was genuinely sick and taking precautions to keep her and everyone around her safe.
Sick Kids are a Challenge for All Parents
Having a sick kiddo is one of the most challenging parts of being a parent. You get stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. On the one hand, you feel terrible for them. You want to make them as comfortable as possible with cuddles, soup, and cozy PJs. But on the other hand, you still must work, whether outside or inside the home.
So, to the parent who brought their sick kid to daycare and got my kid sick—not to mention me—I get it. But I also implore you, on behalf of other kids, parents, teachers, and even your little one, next time, keep them home. Not only will they get better faster, but who doesn’t love a good movie marathon with warm drinks, comforting food, and lots of snuggles?