6 Nonnegotiable Rules of Keeping a Sick Kid Home

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Remember when a sick day meant staying home to nurse a particularly nasty hangover? You’d sleep until noon, order in scrambled eggs with toast, and watch Friends reruns all day — could your life be any different?

You’re a parent now. When you’re sick, you go to work. You soldier on. Why? Because you have to. No, not because you’ve suddenly developed some incredible work ethic, but because you need those sick days. You need them because that Cheerio-eating germ magnet who sleeps in a toddler bed in your second bedroom and has her finger constantly up her nose will get sick an alarming number of times and will need to stay home — as will you, most likely. Suddenly sick days have gone from fun company perk to precious gold.

So, how can you tell when it’s time to cash in on one of these gems? Do you go into lockdown mode simply because your kid has a runny nose? (Insert second-time mom’s snarky laugh here.)

Here are some guidelines for when to keep your kid home from school or day care to make sure you do the right thing, both by your kids and those they spend time with.

  1. If they have a fever and for 24 hours after it breaks.
    You probably already figured that if your kid is running a fever (100.4°F or higher) she’s not going to school/camp/day care. This can be frustrating since fevers can span days. Be diligent with the thermometer (the “kiss the forehead” test is really not that accurate). When the fever finally breaks, you might be starting your happy dance. Hold off. Your kid is contagious (not to mention run-down and susceptible to new diseases) for 24 (unmedicated) hours after a fever. Keep them home until you’re in the clear.
  2. If they’re vomiting and for 24 hours after they stop.
    A similar rule to the last — if your kid is vomiting, keep them home. And you’ll need to wait 24 hours from the time of the last puke before you send them into school with their saltines and apple juice….

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