When I was in high school, students who had perfect attendance did not have to take finals. Of course, teenagers get sick as everyone else does, and this means that kids were coming to school sick often. I’d usually make it until the end of winter when I’d inevitably catch something that made me way too sick to go to school, and I’d have an absence or two on my report card. I’d have to take finals later that spring when my friends would already be home enjoying summer break. Being punished for needing a sick day is the worst.
Fast forward a couple of decades later, and I have my own children in school. Even though it was ingrained in me that taking a sick day is bad, I don’t want my kids to see it that way. Little did I know we’d be in a pandemic when my oldest entered kindergarten, helping to validate my decision to keep sick kids at home.
Why sick days are important
I was recently reminded why sick days are so important when my oldest needed to stay home the day after having a fever. I probably could’ve given her a dose of Motrin and sent her on her way, but at this point in the school year, a day off is needed just as much for physical health as it is for mental health.
On her day off, I let her sleep in. Between school days and soccer Saturdays, this isn’t something she gets to enjoy often, but it’s something her growing body needs.
We binged watched “Full House.” I got to relive a childhood favorite with her while she rested on the couch. I forgot how emotional this show can be. We laughed, and we cried, and we bonded.
She got to spend some time with her siblings. Her little sister laid by her side all morning, and her brother came to check on her after preschool. They miss her when she’s at school all day, and it’s nice to have a surprise day off.
Kids need breaks too
Especially these days, school is a lot for kids. While I’m not advocating for missing a lot of school just because I also don’t agree with my high school’s finals policy (I don’t think this is a thing anymore!) or even perfect attendance awards. Kids get sick much more often than adults do, and why should we reward them for not resting?
Sick days might throw off a routine, and I know they’re a pain for working parents (employers, can we do something about this?), but right now, I am enjoying the extra quality time and a lazy day complete with “Full House,” cuddles and snacks. And even though she’s home sick, I hope my daughter has good memories of these days too.