When Your Child Gets Sick

Photo courtesy iStockphoto.com

I was only a few minutes into the warm-up during a fitness class at the gym when my phone rang.  It was the nurse at my daughter’s school.

“Mrs. Cheng?  Megumi is sick and she wants you to come pick her up.”

Why now?  She was a bit dizzy this morning but thought she was going to be fine, so this couldn’t be too serious.  I was just starting one of my favorite classes, looking forward to burning a lot of calories with a group of other like-minded fitness fanatics like me.  Can’t Meg take a nap in the school nurse’s office for the next 57 minutes?

Other moms all nodded around me in sympathy.  We’ve all been there — when our kids get sick, our own plans go completely out the window.

If you’re a parent and have ever had your child get sick without warning (as if they ever give us any warning!), you know the drill.  Time to cancel that appointment, lunch plans, workout, haircut, and shopping.

It gets more complicated when I have very important plans.  The irony is that the more important the task, the higher the likelihood that one of my kids wakes up with a fever.

Even with careful planning and a backup plan to cover my backup plan, things still sometimes fall apart.  The babysitter can’t make it.  My sister’s flight is delayed.  My mother moves to Hawaii (this really happened!).  “Honey, it’s your turn to call in sick,” I yell to my husband, only occasionally with positive results.  Can’t he see that I really, really need my haircut?

It’s bad enough if the child is sick during the day, but it’s even worse when your kid is sick all night.  It’s especially rigorous when there are stomach issues involved.  Until our kids were about 5, they were somehow unable to notify us of the pending urge to upchuck.  I have laundered a lot of sheets and beach towels in the middle of the night.  It was my goal to get my kids to aim into a bowl before they started kindergarten, and I succeeded.

Fortunately, I have not had a full-time 9-to-5 job since we’ve had kids.  However, I have seen many desperate working parents do things to sneak sick kids into school — rubbing their runny noses dry (which is rather temporary), loading them up with Tylenol to mask the fever, and giving them cough medicine to stop their hacking.  I understand their difficult dilemma, but then the illness spreads like wildfire throughout the campus, multiplying the problem for even more working parents.

As much as I complain about my life being inconvenienced by the illnesses of my children, I can assure you that I don’t mind tending to them at all.  I love knowing that with a tender touch, some chicken soup, and a big dose of prayer, I am helping my kids feel a little better.

As for my morning workout, I decided to be a decent mom after all and go get Meg at school.  I left mid-workout, but not without telling everyone around me to save my spot.  They laughed.  I walked into the nurse’s office to get my daughter who was lying on the bed.  She looked relieved to see me.  She was not feigning her dizziness and had to be steadied to the car.

“My teacher and the nurse asked me if I was having ‘girl trouble,’ but I’m not,” stated my 12-year.  She also told me that she couldn’t believe how many students stop by the nurse’s office all morning, thus proving my point about desperate parents and their sick children.

I dropped her off at home, encouraging her to drink some fluids and go back to bed.  I also asked her to keep a bowl nearby.  Good thing I live close to both the gym and the school, because I was back within 22 minutes flat to a room full of incredulous people.

“Thanks for saving my spot,” I said to my friends, and I continued my workout.

I love being a mom.

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Ever sneak in sick kids to nurseries, childcare, or schools?  Tell me about your experience!

Homework Battle and How I Stopped It

Josh with his math teacher

Do you battle over homework with your grade school kids?  We sure do.  And it can get pretty ugly.

“What do you have for homework today?  Have you done it?  Get off the video game and get started now!”

And on it went.  I would start nagging.  They would start resisting.  I would nag some more.  Our home became a battle ground in the afternoons.  As much as I didn’t like that kind of an environment, we were stuck.  The more I nagged, the more they dawdled.

So I decided to make them own it.

I told them that they can do their homework and still play on the computer…if they schedule for it.  If Josh wants to nap to compensate for the early morning jazz band class, he can.  Just plan for it. If Meg wants to play with makeup, go ahead.  Put it down on the scheduler and work around it.

My solution to the homework battle -- Josh's own planner. Feel free to use it too!

Josh, in particular, needed to have his plans put down on paper, so I came up with this scheduler sheet in Excel.  You can feel free to download it and use it if you’d like.

It’s only been about two weeks since I started this system, but — by golly — it seems to be working.  This scheduler is in 15-minute increments, so he can put down his homework minutes that he plans to use as well as any play dates, tennis class, youth group, etc.  We just have a small battle — more like a little skirmish — as he plans his afternoon, then off he goes.  He plans liberally for his “breaks” and “snack time.”  I only check once or twice to see how he’s following along with his schedule.  I think he feels good about his own achievements.

I can’t believe how efficiently he gets his work done now when he knows that a break is coming up soon.  And I’m relieved that we’re not stuck in a cycle of nagging and resisting anymore.  We only have a few more weeks of school left this year, but I think it’s better late than never!

How do you handle the homework battle?  Can you use a form like this for your home?  Share with us some of your success stories here in the comments!