How Sick is Too Sick for School?


How Sick is Too Sick-Today began like any other school/work day. I got up first, begrudgingly wishing it was really Saturday. I woke up Sydney and gave her the iPad and juice before I got in the shower. After my shower she got the two-minute warning which usually ends up being more like five minutes because mama needs a moment to gather for the day. Then I fished her out of bed and we got ready together. Short hair leaves me the luxury of a quick morning routine, and since I have a 3-minute makeup routine, it took us less than 40 minutes to get downstairs for breakfast. 

As soon as she finished her breakfast is when it started.

“Mom, I feel like barf.” 

The working mom panic sets in the minute your child talks about feeling sick. In our house, when she mentions The Sick, Frank and I immediately flip the coin to see who’s calendars are less full. Since I have been out of my office for the last three days in training, we decided he would take the call if it came. 

She laid down on the couch with her Kindle for a few minutes and then seemed to be back to the normal Friday energy, so off to school we went. But not before I emailed her teacher to give her a heads up just in case “feeling like barf” actually turned in to The Barf. 

Today, we were lucky. Feeling like barf didn’t turn into the real thing which is awesome because no one likes that. 

Today’s events are not the norm for us but it does happen where, in our short hour-ish long morning routine, she mentions she doesn’t feel good. So? What to do then?

In the few minutes between wake-up and school starting, how do you decide if sick is really sick or if sick is not sick enough? 

I’ve spent many a morning in the last years wondering if it’s worth sending her to school or just taking the day off and keeping her home. I often wonder if “feeling like barf” is much more, “Mom, I need attention” than it is feeling sick. 


  • How do you decide when to keep the kids home? I’ve learned over the years to follow my gut which usually ends up being the right thing. 
  • How do you decide who keeps the kids home? For us, it’s whose calendar is clearer… 
  • How do you decide who fields the call from school? I always take the call since I’m first on the list and I almost always leave work when it’s the call from school.
  • How do you decide when to call in the retired grandparents to take over sick duty? For us, it depends on how sick. If it’s a cold/cough, we might enlist the grandparents. If it’s The Barf, one of us will stay home and if it requires a doctor visit, I usually take the lead.

I’m so interested to hear how other families handle dealing with The Sick…so how do you balance it all? 


  1. If I’m not sure, I let my kids go through their morning routine and observe how they look once they get going. My son sometimes wakes up complaining that he doesn’t feel good, but once he has something to eat and drink he peps right up. I’m a SAHM right now so who stays home isn’t an issue – but when I was working, I was always the one the school would call if he needed to be picked up. Mainly because my work was a lot closer than my husband’s.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here