I have a few rules for my kids about staying home sick from school. If you’re coughing, throwing up, have diarrhea or a fever, you don’t go to school.
But there’s also a gray area.
Sometimes my kids are tired and they just don’t feel well. Sometimes they need a break. Sometimes they need a mental health day. (I do too. How about you?)
My kids don’t “fake sick,” per se, but sometimes they don’t technically have to stay home from school; they aren’t particularly contagious or so uncomfortable that they can’t make it through the school day. I’m not generally a permissive mom, but sometimes I let them stay home even when I know they aren’t that sick. I think they need a break. I don’t always have the heart to force them to go to school when they don’t feel well just because their symptoms aren’t as bad as I think they need to be to warrant a sick day. And in the grand scheme of things, missing a day from school here and there doesn’t hurt.
I grew up in the ’70s and was the proverbial latchkey kid. I didn’t fake sick. There was no point. There was no one to stay home with me unless I was seriously sick, and then my mom had to take time off of work to take care of me. If I ever stayed home from school, I was genuinely laid up. Looking back, I certainly could have used a day off every now and then. With my introverted personality, being social and performing at school took energy. I started getting migraine headaches in third grade. Having a day to recoup and relax would have been a great way to de-stress. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit more lenient when it comes to letting my own kids stay home sick from school. They vary from shy to outgoing, but all of them enjoy time alone to fill up their reserves through reading, resting, or watching an old movie with me. There’s a lot of pressure at school and taking a day to just relax is good for kids. Luckily, none of them have inherited my migraine headaches (so far).
While now I have a lax policy, I was more hesitant to do this when my first child went to school. I was nervous about his attendance record, didn’t want him to miss out on class activities, and worried about him getting behind in his schoolwork. But as the years went on, I eased up and let my kids stay home every once in a while when they said they weren’t feeling well (even if their temperature didn’t register that).
My kids don’t take advantage of this. (At least, I don’t think they do …) They only average a few sick days a year. Usually one or two of those are genuine full-blown flu days, but there’s usually a “meh” day where they could go to school but I let them stay home instead. I think it’s fine. Now that my firstborn son is a senior graduating from high school this year, I can say that I don’t regret any sick days.
And since I have the luxury of being with my kids when they do stay home, it’s a nice time for me to spend one-on-one time with them, which is rare at my house since I have four children. I figure it’s a great time to bond with them. We curl up in bed. They let me take care of them. We watch TLC or old musicals like Westside Story, and sometimes we bundle up and drive through Sonic for a cold 7Up to settle a sick stomach or soothe a sore throat. It gives me the chance to not only touch base with them without their brothers and sisters nagging me, but it also gives them the opportunity to rest their minds and stock up on energy (something all kids could use).
So don’t worry too much if you suspect your kid is exaggerating a cough or trying to pull one over on you in order to get out of school. If it gets to be chronic, probe a little; make sure they aren’t trying to avoid a test or dealing with bullying. But if it happens just once in a while, maybe they just need some time to recharge.
After all, taking a mental health day here or there is not the end of the world. It’s actually pretty important.
Do you let your kids play hooky from school?
Uh oh! Please try again later.