As I sit flopped on the bed today with a pounding headache from sinus pressure, I ponder the problem of illness and homeschool.  I am sick.  Both my girls are sick but at varying degrees.  Do we take a sick day? Do we plod through school?  Do we use this as an opportunity to build character and work ethic?  Do we take the opportunity to nurture and rest?  As I wrestle with worry over these issues, I reach for yet another tissue.  Perhaps the issue is in the tissue.

When kids “go” to school somewhere other than home, parents wrestle with sickness as well.  Maybe not as much though.  If your kids are well they go to school even if a sibling is sick.  The child’s school has rules about attendance and illness.  There is probably a rule about fevers and … discharges (eew!).  When the child meets the basic requirements, they go to school.  If the parent can sneak one by, they send a slightly sick kid to school—by the way, I would too!  Because kids are crowded in classroom everyone gets exposed.  Some of them get sick and the travesty continues.  It is a great way to keep the healthcare industry in business.

When you homeschool, things are different.  If your child is a little sick, you do school. Period.  The mom is the teacher and the doctor.  If the child is having breathing problems but is okay to sit still, you have school.  You can’t really do that with school outside the home.  We take fewer sick days, so to speak, because we can still get school work around not feeling our best. 

Problems arise when someone is SICK.  In such a case, do you do some work or no work?  What if one kid is fine and the other darling is living in the bathroom.  Do you have a sick day for everyone?  If you do, you have put school back a day.  Meanwhile, happy, healthy kiddo is running around playing and laughing, or bored and looking for trouble.  The sick kid now feels even more miserable.  He/she is getting way too friendly with the toilet and rumpled bedsheets while happy healthy kid is having all sorts of fun.  Yeah.  Can you imagine the grumpy fighting about to ensue?

It is hard when Mommy is SICK.  If the kids are well, Mommy can do workbook activities and activities that don’t require much from her.  If she has older kids, they can help get meals on the table too.  When the kids are younger though, there is no mercy.  Mommy must trudge through her day and pretend everything is okay if she can.  Even though she feels like a sword is piercing her lungs and an anvil is on her head, she has to make crafts, sing songs (oh kill me now), and change smelly diapers (eating after that smell is now optional).  Why does it seem that on those days, everyone is demanding time and energy from Hapless Hannah who feels like a used dishrag? 

It is even worse when everyone is SICK.  Is everyone sick enough to cancel school for the day of should top priority classes be pursued?  Every child is a separate case.  Some kids may get some work and some kids may get none.  Personally, I tend to lean toward the idea everyone does something everyday to build character.  Granted, on days like today, that amount of work is minimal.  We will be taking a sick day by state law standards. Yet, we will cover priority subjects.  There is no one for Mommy to lean on to help get food on the table.  No one but Mommy can clean up the bathroom where someone missed.  Mommy trudges on.  Clean up on aisle three must be done by thee!

So here are some of my best tips for managing sick days.  If you can trudge through, do it.  It is less make-up work at the end of the year.  Most state laws do not have sick days for homeschoolers.  Kids in most public schools can miss up to 9 days and still finish the school year.  Homeschool law states we have to have 180 days of school—no sick day excuses.  Focus on the most important stuff.  Skip electives.  Again, focus on the required courses.

If everyone is flopping around the house, declare a sick day and nurture.  If you have the option, do school on Saturday to keep the schedule on track.  You may not like what it does to your school calendar, but you will appreciate the opportunity to nurture you and your kids.  There will be less screaming in frustration.  Less angry words will be spoken.  Less confession and asking for forgiveness later.  Kids, who have poor aim in the bathroom, can nap in the bathroom.  Keep babies and diapers close to you.  Set up playpens in your room while you take care of you.  The rest can flop on your bed and be close while you give all of yourselves permission to rest and recuperate.  You will be speaking volumes about taking care of yourself for not only today but future generations. 

It is okay to be a different kind of Super Mom.  You can be the one who gets it all done and still have your children like to be around you.  Who knows, maybe they will choose to snuggle close and lean on your arm while you type…

Excuse me as I get another tissue.