When kids want a sick day at home

Sometimes there’s no need to guess whether your child needs a day at home. PHOTO: Corrie Sebire

By Corrie Sebire

Over the years we’ve had our fair share of sick days (and attempts at getting a sick day). And they range from someone waking up saying they don’t want to go to school to someone going to bed perfectly well then waking up throwing up, and at the extreme end school refusal where going to school is just too hard.

The first step for me is laying down the ground rules, if you’re home today then you stay in bed all day and can’t leave your room. No TV. That usually weeds out the kids who aren’t really sick as they realise they aren’t getting a day on the couch watching TV. Step two is saying ‘Well just get dressed and see how you are feeling after breakfast and when your bag is packed’. And by that stage if they were feeling tired and a bit unsure of going to school then they have usually perked up and we can send them off.

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I also need to point out here that I had to implement a new rule because in the space of a few weeks I was picking up children from school at lunchtime. But then would get home put on pjs, start eating and watch TV (and ask for more food). Wait a second! I thought you were really sick???? I then decided the new rule in the house was that you really need to be sick and throwing up before I collect you from school. I had done four pick ups in two weeks and no one was really sick. Once the new rule was in place there were no more collections from school during the day.

And now that brings me to the other extreme where there are deeper issues and someone really can’t attend school. I won’t joke about this because we’ve been here too and a softly softly approach is needed. For some children school really gets too much – it could be a strict teacher, friendship issues, worries getting too big or children finding the school work too hard. And sometimes little people can’t tell us what the real issue is because they can’t put it into words.

After much deliberation little Keira felt she would have more fun at aschool.
After much deliberation little Keira felt she would have more fun at aschool.

I really recommend talking to your child and talking to the school to try to get to the bottom of it and solve it quickly. Because in our experience the more school time that is missed the harder it is to get back into school and routine. I don’t push going to school when there really is a problem. We’ve also spoken to our GP when there are real issues and we suspect something is going on  and have then been referred to the right people. It’s also been important to get a medical certificate to cover the missed days and to keep in touch with the school about when we’ll be back and to do our best to keep up with school work.

At the end of the day, school days are long and do require a lot of our children’s energy. Getting into bed early each night, staying on top of homework, eating enough food and drinking enough water and getting plenty of play time at the end of each day is important to make sure that children are prepared for school the next day.

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Oh and for the love of everything good in the world if you find nits in your child’s hair please keep them home from school for the day. That is the one exception to my rules, stay home and get those nits out and strip all of the beds and wash everything in hot water. I don’t even want to jinx myself by revealing how long we have been nit free!

About Corrie

Corrie is a wife and a mum of seven children under 13. She has one set of twins and one sweet girl with special needs. She tries to find time to bake, craft, read, volunteer, drink her coffee hot and not look tired. Corrie blogs at retromummy.com