It Might Be 'Just A Cold,' But My Child Is Staying Home

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A few nights ago, my daughter was up all night blowing her nose and sneezing. Her eyes were watering, and her throat was dry. She was noticeably tired when she woke up, but she said she felt fine and could go to school.

While she probably could have gone and made it through the day just fine, I kept her home anyway. She drank fluids, chewed vitamin C, and used exactly two large rolls of toilet paper to absorb all the fluids coming out of her body.

Her appetite was fierce, and we went through the drive-thru because she wanted fries and nuggets in a bad way. The kid was eating like I’d never seen her eat before and by the middle of the day I could see her coming to life again.


Yes, it was a fast recovery, but I knew I’d made the right decision to keep her at home.

There are times when the parent needs to make the call to keep their children home despite the absence of a fever, body aches, chills, or vomiting. Our kids don’t have to be bedridden to miss school, a concert, or party. Sometimes we just know.

Sometimes we’ve learned the hard way. I once sent my son to school with a cold and a headache. He wasn’t his usual energetic self, but ate two granola bars and didn’t have a fever. So I sent him on his way, not fully feeling okay about my decision, but also feeling like I was overreacting.

By the end of the day, he was exhausted and his eyes were glassy. That night he had a fever, which was even higher the next day. I took him to the doctor when he slept most of the day and his fever wouldn’t break. He ended up having pneumonia. Yep, I should have kept him home. For his own health, and for the health of his classmates and teachers.

Once my daughter woke up with a sore throat but seemed fine for a few days, so we carried on with our usual activities — even though by the end of each day, she’d collapse hours before bedtime. She ended up coming down with strep throat.

A cold can be a tough call but I’ve sent my kids on their merry way and continued on with daily life, only to have the whole family suffer for a week because their health deteriorated. These pesky germs have spread throughout our house enough times by now that I know when I need to keep my kids home and resting. It will likely still spread through the house, but I can keep them as comfortable as possible and hopefully lessen the impact it will have on the general public.

We’ve gone to family gatherings and one of my children has spread their acute viral rhinitis to nearly everyone else in attendance. So they, too, are down and out for a week. Oops. Lesson learned.

Kids are a magnet for germs, and they can spread those germs like a motherfucker. They don’t remember to sneeze in their elbow, they sneeze right into the food. They enjoy wiping their nose with their hand then swiping some frosting from the birthday cake and touching all the toys at a party. Gross.

Germs, and spreading them, are a normal part of childhood. We can’t always know when that runny nose or cranky kid will turn into something viral or contagious, and that’s just life. But, we can try to minimize who we expose our sick kids to.

Yes, some kids can pull through when they are sick, especially with just a cold, but there are those out there with weakened immune systems who can’t bounce back from a cold as quickly as other children. We should be cautious about when it’s safe to go out and when we should stay at home.

It’s amazing what a day of rest, chicken soup, and extra hydration can do to get them back on track so they can make it through the rest of the week and don’t take anyone down with them.


I realize not everyone can just stay at home with their children whenever they have a cold, but I do it whenever I can. It’s not worth the risks to make them go to school when staying home is an option, and it backfires more often than not. They get sicker, and they aren’t concentrating while they are in school anyway.

I’ll keep my kids at home and nurse them back to health whenever I can. We’ll keep our germs to ourselves. And to be honest, I kinda love the extra bonding time I get when they are sick (minus disinfecting the house and washing my hands a thousand times a day). They are cuddly, a bit more quiet and less energetic, and they will always remember the feeling of being taken care of and nurtured when they aren’t feeling good.

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