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Parenting Rants

To The Mom Sending Her Sick Kids To School… And Everyone Else

Dear mom dropping her sick kids off at school…

 

A few years ago, I would have been furious and irritated with you. I would have thought you were selfish, and that it was a mean thing to do. I mean, how could you? Leaving your poor child miserable in the hands of other people, infecting those around him/her with their germs. Well, I know better now… and I am so sorry. I am so sorry I judged you, I did not know your situation. I had no right.

 

Up until a couple of months ago, I hardly ever needed to take time off work when my kids were sick. I was lucky enough to have an amazing full-time nanny, and before we had her we also had the support of my husband’s parents – who were all to happy to look after our poor sick babies and spoil them rotten. I did not have to feel guilty, because I knew that they were in the best care and that they would be happy. Unfortunately, since the in-laws immigrated overseas and we lost our nanny, it has not been that easy. I have become that mom that drops her snot-nosed and coughing children off at school, because there is no other alternative. I am a full-time working mother with and insanely busy schedule and the same goes for my husband. We have no friends or relatives that could watch our kids for us while we go to the office and to be honest – the teachers at my kids’ schools are amazing and I know they would make my kids as comfortable as possible, and give them the attention they need while they are not feeling well.

 

You might think I am selfish, or even cruel… but I have already exhausted my family responsibility leave, annual leave and pretty much my sick leave. To some parents, not going to work might mean not getting paid, or even losing their job security – and not everyone can take that risk financially. What is the saying again? Don’t judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes? You have no idea what people might be going through – or how much it must be killing that parent to not be able to stay at home with their little sicklings, to follow their most natural and human instinct to take care of them.

 

People do not always have options. Not everyone is, want to, or can afford to be a stay-at-home mother or father and not everyone is afforded the opportunity to work from home. According to the South African Labour Act, a full-time employee is entitled to 1,25 annual leave per full month worked – you also get people who are in the same situation that I am in, where the company has a shut down period over December/January. That means that you need to build up your annual leave in order to get your full salary during that time. In terms of sick leave, a full-time employee is entitled to 30 days sick leave on full pay in a three-year cycle. That might sound like a lot, but it really is not. I was booked off work on bed rest for two weeks last month when I had pneumonia… that is 10 days – gone. That means I have twenty days left… but then there was the time Knox had a ridiculously high fever and couldn’t be left alone, and the time the whole family had a stomach bug, the time when my husband and both kids had the dreaded hand-foot-and-mouth disease, oh – and let’s not forget that time that Knox chopped off his finger. Yeah… those days add up pretty quickly. Many employers are also not very understanding when it comes to your responsibilities as a mom or dad, and taking too much sick leave can cause huge issues in the workplace. Family responsibility leave is presently an allowance of 3 days on full pay per year, which is so restricting. This leave can be used when your spouse or a close relative falls seriously ill – or in the event of death of a close family member. So what do you do when you do not have any alternatives?

 

Obviously it’s a little insane and quite irresponsible to send your kids to school if they have seriously dangerous and contagious diseases, like hand-foot-and-mouth disease, scarlet fever, chickenpox, measles etc., we have to draw the line somewhere. I would never expose my kids to others if they were extremely contagious, or if it could put someone’s life in danger – but I totally understand leaving your snotty kid with a cold in the hands of the teacher. And I know it is not fair to make other kids sick as well, but hopefully most schools have a sick room for the little ones and try to keep them isolated.

 

I don’t know, maybe I am in the wrong line of work, maybe I am selfish, maybe I am just a bad mom and human being – but I am doing the best I can. Maybe I have this all wrong, but I think we need to think about all these things before we judge other parents. Maybe, instead of glaring at the mom dropping her snotty kid off in the morning – offer a look of sympathy or a smile and ask them if they are doing okay.

 

So, to the mom dropping her sick kid off at school… you are not alone, I do it too. It sucks, I hate it, I don’t want to do it, it makes me feel like absolute crap and I cry in my car all the way to work – but we do what we can when we can. I get it. This parenting thing is not easy… we really need to help each other instead of tearing people down all the time.

 

What do you think? I would love to hear your opinion on this, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below <3

 

xox

Maz

 

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Maz Halliday

Maz is self-employed mom to two of the most gorgeous, yet tiring kids you will ever lay eyes upon. She maintains her sanity by blogging at Caffeine and Fairydust and rocking from side-to-side in her bath tub at night (with a glass of bubbly - no one ever said you can't be fabulous while having a nervous breakdown). She aims to broaden people's perspectives - and in the process will either make you laugh or p%#@ you off. Don't be shy... come say hi!

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32 COMMENTS

  • Sade Lee

    This relates to me so much! I feel the exact same and it is killer to not be able to stay home with our babies. The working environment is definitely not open to the fact that you are a parent and have other responsibilities. But we need the job to survive. Some days it feels like a lose lose situation, but at the end of the day we have to remember that they are loved, they are cared for and they will always know that we tried our best. Thanks for a great post!

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      It is a huge pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post and good luck!

  • Sherry De Ponte

    I’m in the exact same boat…think there are more moms that we know. Strict bosses, no help at home and it ends up becoming a tussle between mom and dad whose job is most important and who can stay at home. Ching Ching cha! And it’s normally the mom sitting at work or home feeling incredibly guilty both ways

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      Oh my, you hit the nail right on the head!

  • Venean

    I must admit when I saw the title of this I really thought it was going to be another entitled, guilt filled post where I am embarrassed to be a mom, because sometimes I take my kids to school when they aren’t 100% 🙁 and it does suck.. so much! Agreed on serious illnesses though! Thanks for being a voice for working moms who don’t really have a choice I we would support one another more! Hugs mama you are doing the best you can and for your babies!!! Xxx

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      WOMAN! How could you think that?! Lol. Thank you, and right back at ya… good luck! Parenting is hard…

  • Liezel Kriel

    Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve had days where I just couldnt take the day off. Where my mom could drop everything and make the 90min drive to come babysit.

    On those days I always convince myself his not that sick. No fever so its okay. But in my heart I knew the poor kid should prob stay home. I ended up crying all the way to work and phone the school every hour to check. Most of the time he is totally fine but I’ve also pitched up at school and he looked much worst and that broke my heart. Its the very essence of mom guilt. Its the worst part of parenthood as a working parent.

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      I feel you sister. I don’t think the mom-guilt would ever go away, and we definitely do not need other moms to make us feel worse about it.

  • Kim Muller

    I do it too. Have been for a while. We’re too scared to use too much of our sick leave here at work, as we are sent for disciplinary hearings if we go over a certain amount of days. I need my job and the money that I get paid for it too much, for the kids, for the roof over our heads, for the food we all eat. It’s so easy to just judge someone, not knowing what their situation is. We do it too easily and we don’t take the time to think what else? Why else would someone do something differently to how we would do it?

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      I completely agree! I used to work for a company that sent us for disciplinary hearings if we used up too much leave, and it is terrifying!

  • Hi Maz. I totally get where you are coming from. I genuinely do. I feel for those parents who are in your shoes, it must be awful. But … i do get very angry when my child gets sick from catching a cold/cough/whatever from the other sick kids who are sent to school sick. two weeks ago my youngest got a cough which eventually became TONSILLITIS and an ear infection. When I explained to her teacher why she was off school, the teacher confirmed that “Yes, all the kids are coughing”. I was livid. Then there was the time last year when my husband was due to have an operation (hernia repair) and 48 hours before his op my girls came home from school with a ridiculously high temperature (both of them) from some contagious mysterious virus … if he had caught that off them his operation would have had to be delayed, as it is i couldn’t be with him at the hospital because i had to stay with the sick kids as we also have no support structure to help with the kids at all. My point is that the REPERCUSSIONS of this have far further reaching effects than just the obvious. I haven’t got an answer or solution for this issue, But those are my thoughts, experiences and why i get angry when my kids are exposed to illness from other kids. i think this is an issue affecting parents the world over and will forever be one of those issues debated in society.

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      I completely agree, but no-one wants to send their kids to school sick. They just don’t have any other options. I think schools should be better equipped to handle these issues. Also, your kids can get sick from going to the mall, the shop, playing at the park… it’s just life.

  • Celeste Booysen

    Maz, I totally understand all of this. IT is really not something that you would write about lightly. I also have no family support structure around me and when I wasn’t in a possition to have the full time nanny I have now, I had to take plenty of time off work with my eldest child and it was heavily frowned upon. Frankly it nearly cost me my job.

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      I think a lot of people are in that position. And from the employer’s side it is quite understandable… It is so difficult! I am glad you have someone to help out.

  • Sharon

    I’m so glad you wrote this Maz. I watched a conversation develop over on Twitter about this very topic a few days ago, I have a feeling that’s what encouraged you to write this. And I must say that I feel strongly that mom’s need to stop judging each other so harshly on such issues. Not one of us wants to send our kids to school sick, but sometimes, there is no other option. Not everyone is walking the same journey. Like you, I have no family I can ask to help with my kids, yes I have a nanny and earlier this week both her and my youngest were ill, I had to take time off work to look after Hannah, which is fine, I have the family RESPONSIBILITY leave available but what happens later in the year? What do I do then when the nanny is sick and I have no leave? And honestly, no one is going to send a half dying child to school, but a simple cold is not the end of the world as far as I’m concerned. I think mothers need to start supporting and understanding each other more and stop with the damn judgement.

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      Yip, definitely got some heated inspiration from that little Twitter conversation. Thank you for reading Shar <3 And I totally agree. Hope everyone is feeling better!

  • Melissa Javan

    I’m one of those moms who takes my sick child to creche. even the creche teacher said that i could bring my kid to school; even creche teachers get colds and flu’s. obviously if my child is feverish, i would stay home or ask my husband to look after her. germs are also good, said teacher, it helps their immune system build up a fight. I feel you – my parents live in another province and i cannot afford a nanny – plus the creche is safer, reliable.

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      I agree, to a point it does help their immune systems in the long run! Stay strong <3

  • Zee

    I totally understand where you coming from but unfortunately this really does cause a ripple effect. Last year my son was in the paeds rooms every month (if not ever week). He was admitted into hospital twice and spent most of his days on meds. Why? Because children in his class were always sick and basically infecting each other. If schools don’t have sick bays then this shouldn’t be allowed. So whilst having to be off work for weeks, we have also depleted our medical aid – thousands of rands. I worked from home when I could and alternated with my husband. I signed up for this after all. So had kids not been sent to school sick, then we wouldn’t have the constant knock off effect. Our children wouldn’t have to be on constant meds not allowing there little bodies to build up a strong immune system. The healthy ones would play together until their friend is better to come back to school and no doubt we would have a lot less children being sick and the sick ones would also get better sooner as they not being reinfected by any other child. So suppose both scenarios the stakes are high: job loss, no money to pay medical bills or even worse having to deny your child the best medical care because you can no longer afford it and of course schools fees paid in full monthly and school was only attended for less than half a month. I also don’t have the solutions for this but we all just need to understand both sides of the spectrum.

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      I do not disagree, it definitely causes a ripple effect – but I do think that schools need to understand that in this day and age, it is very probable that both parents work and they need to offer more support. School fees are so damn expensive – they should be able to make a plan. We are very lucky that our kids’ school has a “sick room” with a nurse, where they can lie down and watch movies and play if they feel like it. They are kept away from the other kids, but do not miss out on any school work etc. It does make me feel a little better, but it is still not perfect. I just wish there was an easy solution.

  • Megan

    Thanks for your honesty. Ive done it heaps of times, and it kills me to drop them off and no be able to look after them myself like I feel is my duty as their Mommy. This week our whole family got gastro, so I have been home with both girls. But if I hadnt of gotten the bug, I honestly dont know what I would do… Schools and creche are quite strict with gastro, its so contagious. I would have had to take unpaid leave 🙁 its hard for us working Moms.

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      It is a pleasure, thank you for taking the time to read my blog! It is so difficult, and life is so damn expensive nowadays… Good luck, I hope you are all feeling much better!

  • Stephanie Millar

    This post made me feel so much better.

    I do it too.

    And it’s so refreshing to be reminded that other mamas do it too.

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      I am glad it made you feel better. Parenting is hard!!

  • catjuggles

    Oh I know! I keep our maid partially because of this reason! With 3 kids it is a very real concern. We also have no family or friends that can help – its really an issue

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      It is so difficult… Not everyone can afford having a nanny to look after the kids, and it’s tough!

  • Cass Ferguson

    Loved this Maz <3

    Agree 100% . We're just trying to do our best with what we've got. We shouldn't judge without putting ourselves in the other persons shoes <3

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      Thank you Cass!

  • Louise

    I 100% agree that mothers absolutely need to stop tearing each other down. I’m a relatively new mommy and found the constant judging to be one of the hardest parts of being a mom. It’s completely unnecessary. I had my little man with a day mother for a few months and he was constantly sick. have had him at the Dr 8 time this year with various infections and fevers. I’ve now had to take him out and keep him home. Dr’s recommendation. I have NO IDEA how I’m going to keep working. I work for myself. but can’t afford a full-time nanny. I still don’t blame the other mommies sending their kiddies to school sick. Its part of life. We share this world and we can’t expect everyone to have the same options that we do. Good luck with your sick babes mommies!

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      That is very true… I also had to take Knox out in the beginning and at the time we could afford a full time nanny. Unfortunately that is no longer the case and it is so difficult. Good luck,, I hope you get some work done!

  • Jodie

    It’s tough when you don’t have support 🙁 I fully understand although we’re blessed to have a full time live-in nanny so she’s my every day support!

    • Maz
      AUTHOR

      Treat her like gold! We had a wonderful nanny, but unfortunately she passed away. We miss her so much, she was fantastic.

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