Sarah 9Comment

One of my friends called me this morning, and she had a story to tell.

“You won’t believe what happened to me this weekend!” she started.

She went on to tell me that after offering to watch her friend’s kids so she and her husband could go out on a much-needed date, her friend dropped off a child who had a cough, a cold, and a fever, when my friend has two young children of her own! The woman proceeded to leave for her date and left my friend with a child who really should’ve been at home.

My friend didn’t say anything about the illness and neither did her friend. And when the sick child left, she super cleaned her house. But even still, a few days later, her kids are sick.

We started talking about “sick kid” etiquette. What should you do, or what do you do, when your kid is sick and you have plans? Especially in the winter months?

Here’s what I think:

1. If your kid has a fever, all plans are a no-go. Are you kidding me? Who brings their kid somewhere when they know they have a fever? (Sometimes you find out later…so obviously I’m not talking about those situations.)

2. Same rule applies for any stomach illness that involves lots of bathroom trips. 

3. If your child has an extremely runny nose and a cough that’s uncontrollable, stay home. Seriously. Toddlers have no idea how to stay clean when they’re sick.

4. And, if there is a newborn or pregnant woman in the house you are visiting, take extra precaution. If you’re not sure, ask, and let your friend decide.

5. However, many toddlers have runny noses all the time. One little runny nose or a tiny cold doesn’t mean you have to stay home. However, think about who you’re visiting. Is it a friend you see all the time? Maybe the kids pass germs back and forth constantly anyway? And think about how bad it really is. If it’s a little sneezing and sniffles, you’re probably okay. But if there are any accessories that go along with it (think fever, super cough, or crazy runny nose) cancel your plans.

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I have to say, I haven’t experienced what my friend has. My friends are really polite about child sickness. If someone is sick, they let everyone know and either cancel the plans for their child, or leave it up to those attending once they explain the situation.

I think this is much easier when you have toddlers. Once kids are old enough to go to school, there’s a plethora of germs everywhere, and maybe being as careful just isn’t feasible.

I’m wondering, What is your “sick kid” etiquette with your friends? Have you had an experience like my friend did? 

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9 thoughts on ““Sick Kid” Etiquette: What Are the Rules?

  1. I recently had my sister in law tell me she was offended when I asked if her if her 20 month was still contagious. Mind you, he had pneumonia and bronchitis and was hospitalized 5 days earlier. I have a newborn baby. She stated she would never do that to her newborn niece. I am a new mom, but i can’t imagine mothers get offended if you ask if their child is still contagious.

  2. Ugh. My SIL keeps surprising me AFTER I arrive for a visit with news that she, her husband or son are “getting over” an illness. I have a toddler and a baby and I get so irritated. I feel like she always tries to downplay it and say they are no longer contagious… but lo and behold a few days later my entire family is sick. We’re very close and have talked to her about it before but it keeps happening. I don’t know what else do. When it comes to illness, especially where kids are involved, full disclosure please! Let people decide for themselves if they want to risk their health.

  3. I’m 9 months pregnant right now, laying awake having had 2.5 hours of sleep because my friend brought over her 2 sick kids, one of which couldn’t stop coughing (or find himself capable of covering his mouth) and one had a lingering ear infection that meds were not clearing up. But of course they both presented just as “sniffles and a cough”, your seemingly common cold. The issue is now my toddler has their same symptoms and has been up crying all night from congestion from this “common cold. ” And yeah, I could have turned her away, but she was coming from out of town to visit, so not so easy to just say “let’s reschedule” when she showed up at the door. Besides, why does the host have to police everyone who walks through the door, when common sense should clearly reign supreme here?

    I just don’t get why no matter WHAT level of cold you perceive your child to have, that you don’t just give another mom a heads up and the opportunity to reschedule, even if it’s just a runny nose. Maybe a cold isn’t a big deal to one parent, but it isn’t up to them to determine what is and isn’t a big deal to another family. If only people had to take care of the people they infect they might think twice.

    Just my two cents, but again, this is a 5 a.m. rant from a full term pregnant mom who has a congested kid sleeping on her face right now.

  4. It really doesn’t matter what degree someone is sick. If the person had something that is contagious and are showing symptoms they need to stay home to be sure that they cannot infect others. This has been happening to me for years . No one needs to show up to a family gathering with sick children. My kids don’t even want to play with their cousins now because they have gotten sick at least five times now because they never stay home. People need to learn to be considerate of other peoples wishes and not selfishly just show up.

  5. Okay I am probably out of the norm on this one, but, be the change you want to see, keep your kids home, call other moms with a heads up you need to cancel, your kids is sick etc.

    But dont start playing the blame game, I know its reaaallly tempting to play sick detective, where were they three days ago, who do you know with sick kids, did someone say a bug was going through their house? Fact is, they could have got it from ANYWHERE, and the righteous fury you have directed at another set of parents, is probably going to directed at you, 7 days later when your kid is doing great and you go to playgroup and your child happens to cough twice and you mention they were sick last week, even though you dutifully stayed home, some kid in that group will probably get sick from something during the week, its winter right? And that mom will play sick detective and pinpoint you as the rude mom who took her horribly infectious kid to playgroup… The blame game helps no one.

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