We have been very lucky in our few years as mommies to avoid a problem that many working parents face constantly – no school days for kids aka “the sick kid scramble.” My wife and I have opposite schedules. I work somewhat regular weekday hours and she works nights and weekends. It’s not exactly easy to miss out on the full family time, but we have been able to do something for our kids: one of us can always be around for them.
Two weeks ago, my wife changed her schedule from nights to days, now that our youngest is in school full-time. When she switched, we considered the situations when a kid was sick and who’d stay home. We didn’t really take the conversation too seriously. I’m pretty sure we said something like “what are the odds we’d have too many sick days? Between the 2 boys, we’ve had maybe 3 sick days total in 4 years.”
This week was Week 2 of Lo’s daytime hours. Yesterday morning, Dylan woke up with a barking seal cough. We both looked at each other. Who stays home? We checked his temperature, we checked for other symptoms, we asked him if anything else bothered him. Nothing. I can’t take time off work THIS WEEK. Lois can’t take the time off RIGHT NOW. What do we do?
I sent him to school.
Not because we really couldn’t make it happen, but because he wasn’t sick. I brought him to school and found the school nurse. We went over his cough, his other non-symptoms and she assured me he was totally fine to be in school. The day went off without a hitch and we didn’t
Then today before noon, my cell phone rings with a number I knew was the school. “Dylan was in the nurse’s office because he was flushed. He didn’t cough, he had no fever, he said he felt fine, he made jokes and chatted with other kids down here, so I sent him back to class.”
Tonight, he still looks flushed but he’s fine in every other way. But the watching for symptoms has made us rethink our blasé attitude over a real “sick kid” plan.
We dodged the scramble this time. But the scramble that we almost had to do was an absolute reality for every family with working parents (both working parents, single parents, etc.) We’ve just been totally immune to it for years! We all know that it’s not always so simple to find a last minute sitter. The reality is that, for now, the parent that will have to stay home will be me. Not that my job is really as flexible as I’d like to think it is, but I could work from home. Or at least “attempt” to work from home with a sick kid!
We are now ready for this – because it’s inevitable.