Would You Rather: Follow The Rules Or Cheat A Little?

You know how schools all have those rules about keeping your kids home when they are sick? Free of fever for 24 hours and all of that?

A few weeks ago, Emma woke up at midnight sobbing because her stomach hurt. She said she felt like she might vomit. And because I am no rookie mom, I got the trash can ready right next to her bed. Good thing, too, because within minutes it was being filled.


By the way, you want to know a parenting moment made of awesome?

That would be when your kid learns to aim for the bucket and not say their entire bed. Nothing says fun like changing the sheets at 2:00 a.m.

So, after the puking incident, she fell back to sleep and slept soundly until morning.

No fever.

No additional upending of her stomach contents.

One and done as they say.

Of course, I kept her home the next day, because I am a rule follower.

Except that by 10:00 a.m. she was performing a concert in my bathroom complete with very loud singing and some kind of stomping that may or may not have been an attempt at the River Dance. When she asked me to take her to McDonald’s for lunch I knew we could count this day as more of a “mental health” day and less of a “sick day”.

Now, could I have sent her to school? Technically, no.

Do I wish I had? Um, decidedly yes.

See, I think she was suffering mostly from acid reflux and less from the dreaded stomach virus of 2013. So, between you and me, she was F-I-N-E.

It got me thinking about bending the rules as a parent, especially when it comes to the school’s sick policy. Lisa and I discussed it over the phone and agreed that it would make a good “Would You Rather” scenario.

Picture this:

It is Thanksgiving week. Monday if you will. Your child wakes up at 10:00 p.m. Sunday night and vomits. They return to sleep. They wake up in the morning with a temperature of 99.2, which according to the school handbook does not constitute a fever. They don’t eat a ton of breakfast, but also don’t outwardly complain of any further stomach pain. You know that school is out for the week starting Wednesday.

This happens to be the day of their big Thanksgiving feast. They have been planning for it and practicing with their little Pilgrim hats, and your child is just so excited to be at school that day. They do not want to miss the big celebration!


You, let’s be honest, have kind of been counting on those precious child free hours to get all the groceries bought for turkey day. Those cans of cranberry sauce aren’t going to buy themselves, you know.

Here is where it gets a little dicey.

If your kid does in fact have a stomach virus, you are potentially infecting the entire class right before the busiest travel time of the year.


If they are not sick, you are subjecting yourself to a kid who wants to perform their entire Thanksgiving festival for an audience of one (you, by the way!) and also cries because you “made them” miss out on their most anticipated school day this entire year!

Now, remember that this is a judgment free zone, so be honest in your answers.

Would you rather follow the rules and keep your child at home or cheat a little and send them to school?





Would You Rather: Follow The Rules Or Cheat A Little? — 95 Comments

    • Good call Seana…being ready and able to get there quickly if things go south is always a smart plan! πŸ™‚

  1. I would keep my kid home. It would be a bummer for sure, but my kids often act fine when they are actually sick, so I following the vomiting rule every time. My boy missed a holiday celebration last year, and we just made his day at home special.

    • What a great solution to make his day at home special! You get the great Mom star for today in my book πŸ™‚

      I think this WYR has a lot of facets. It’s different for working moms than it is SAHMs. And it’s about knowing your kiddo. Some act fine when they’re really sick. Others act sick all the time. And some act how (we think) they should, when they should.

      • I am like you Amy, I would keep my kid home. Even if I was bitter and hostile about it.

        And Heather, I TOTALLY agree with you…I probably should have put that caveat in there, because it is definitely a whole different ballgame for working moms! Great point!

  2. Ok, totally had a a bit of this dilemma last week when Lily was sick. Granted she did have a fever, but with Motrin it had come down and it was Halloween. She was going to miss the parade, sing-a-long and party. I was so torn, plus we had to take Emma to school for the same reason and knew Lily would get upset if she wasn’t going. So, I called her teachers and they told me just to bring her for the parade, so she could at least get that part in (right at the beginning of school) and then take her. I did just that, but then found out another parent had sent their little girl with a fever and ear infection. So, even though I had guilt for this on both ends, it was totally lessened by that one for sure.

    • Yeah, I have definitely seen parents do the quick, come up to school for a specific event and take the kid home again right after it was over, so I get that for sure!

  3. Last week I had my little one home with me for the day because of the daycare’s 24 hour fever policy. I basically had to take the day off work because there was no way I could get anything done with her! While I completely understand the rules, there are just some times they need to be bent. I would definitely send my child to school for the Thanksgiving feast!

  4. I was always the overprotective mom and had a dilemma like this once with a sick kid and Disney on Ice tickets. Eventually if the temperature was in the safe range, they weren’t barfing, and weren’t listless anymore (ie. starting to work my nerves) then off they went. But with me on standby should they relapse. As far as getting other kids sick…who’s to say who gave what bug to whom. They all share the creeping cruds

    • Yeah, it is so hard to balance knowing that they are being exposed to everything under the sun at school with how closely to follow the rules!

  5. Great question. One that I knew the answer until I read the scenario and then I changed my answer. See, I am a rule follower to a fault so I have totally been in that situation where they were sick in the middle of the night and I kept them home and then they drove me crazy the whole next day and they were FINE. I would probably do it again, too because I feel like the one time I break the rules, the world will explode and I’ll get caught. However, in the above scenario, I would send them. I think this actually happened before. I would send them and pray that I didn’t get a call saying they puked all over their classroom and I would race through my errands just in case I did get a call. The more I type this answer, the more I KNOW I am guilty of this. πŸ™‚

    • Cracking up at your realization as you typed your answer!! Made me totally giggle! I have definitely gotten the call in the middle of Target and had to decide whether I left my cart full or took the few minutes to finish checking out! πŸ˜‰

  6. Oh this is a tough one because I’ve been in this situation a couple times and made the decision differently each time. Sometimes it worked out fine, and sometimes I’ve mad the wrong decision. I would be willing to cheat a little if I really thought the kids was ok. It would just be a last minute decision based on the kid, the event, and the day.

    • Total last minute decision Lisa…I am so with you there! I have made the wrong call before, too…and still feel badly about it!

  7. My son doesn’t go to a regular public school so they can only miss 10 excused absences per semester 20 in total for the entire school year. He has been sick the past couple of months with bronchitis and strep so he has already missed a total of 8 days so he can only miss 2 more until December or they will give me a warning letter. Last week he was sick I thought he was bad again so took him to the doc they told me he had a severe cold….keep him out of school for 2 days….no ma’am I doctored him up that night sent his butt on to school the next day told him to keep tissue in his pocket and cough in his clothes. He did okay I don’t get penalized if I send him and the school calls me so I figured if he gets worse they will call me.

    • UGH. That has to be really frustrating Kita to have such a strict policy on the number of days they can miss…because of course kids get sick! I can’t imagine trying to deal with that!

  8. Once I tried to get Cass back into school after she puked in the MORNING… and they were all “Are you serious? No NO NO!” at the office. She was absolutely FINE. We spent the day grocery shopping and out to lunch… I knew she was fine. Oy.

    This my friends is a doozer. I would probably go with the guilt free keep the kid home- only because it would absolutely KILL me to think of the risk of infecting so many before the holiday.

    I would then celebrate the day with ‘sick child’ doing something really fun together (ie: All that grocery shopping lol) to replace the loss of an even funner day he/she could have had.

    • I am like you…I couldn’t live with the guilt if I thought there was even a small chance they were sick…however, I also totally get spending the entire day with a child who is NOT sick! πŸ˜‰

  9. Don’t even have to debate. Day care. I even have a song I sing to her called: “I’m dropping your a$$ in daycare!” Though now that she’s three it’ll have to be “bottom.”

  10. Hmm…I’d say School – mostly because they want to go and don’t seem to be showing any signs in the morning. I don’t want to hear crying and whining all day and if they are not feeling so good – trust me – an hour after you’ve dropped them off, they’ll be calling you to come pick them up.

  11. I’m a rule follower and also spent 5 years working in the office at my boys elementary school (lots of stories for sure!!!) – I would keep them home.

    • Oh yes, I totally hear you! Both Lisa and I volunteer at school at the attendance desk and well, yeah! πŸ˜‰

  12. Even though I’m one of the biggest rule followers you will ever meet, I think I would still send them to school. I’m pretty sure my parents would have sent me to school even if I had amputated an arm, (“You have another arm. Use that one. You’ll be fine. It’s just a scratch.”) so I sorta have the same philosophy of school being something you pretty much never miss. Of course, I’m also hoping I would know this hypothetical child well enough to know when he/she is truly and honestly sick and needs to stay home.

    • I will not even lie, the “it’s just a scratch” made me BURST out laughing…that is TOTALLY what my parents would have said, too!! BWAH HA HA HA!!

  13. Count me in as on the side of “Send ’em to school!” Most definitely. If they’ve graduated from upchuck mode, the temp is near normal and they are acting as usual – bundle them up and send them in.
    Thanksgiving Dinner is Thanksgiving Dinner. Can you say hours of prep?
    Yes, of course I remember that little girl who threw up into the curtain during the grade four Christmas recital. She could have caught that bug from anywhere…

  14. Ooh, that’s a good one! I’ve always been under the impression that fever made you contagious, so if my child didn’t have a fever and they felt find then if send them to school and tell them if they start to feel bad go to the nurse and I’ll come pick them up.

    • Not 100% true about only the fever making you contagious Tracie, although fevers definitely do that! I do think a lot of it has to do with how your child feels.

  15. Probably, I’d keep them home. Although I feel like a stomach virus is usually pretty..shall we say…noteworthy and you can probably tell if they don’t have one easily.
    Still. I like to overdo the healing process.

  16. This one is up in the air for me! I think it would depend on if I was feeling like going into work that day or just playing hookey and staying in with my little man! Ha… Love the pic of pure joy and excitement on her face at the class party! LOL… oh what big beautiful blue eyes she has! ~Leah~

  17. If my child seemd fine the next morning – no complaining, no fever, no aches, no trash can usage, then school for sure!
    When my daughter has had the stomach bug – it’s never been a one and done scenario – it’s repeated trash can usage, messed up sheets, pajamas, toilet…and by the time morning comes, we have both been exhausted and have both wanted a “sick” day!

  18. Oh, now that is a scenario! I have sent my middle kid to school before after getting sick the night before, but only if he had no fever and I am convinced he got sick due to a sugar spike/drop (he has functional hypoglycemia) not due to flu (i.e. no coughing, runny nose, etc.). I would say, though, that 99.2 temp would have me wavering. I’d probably err on the side of caution and keep the kiddo home, but if they were 100% within an hour, I’d be kicking myself. I’ve sent them to school with a low 99 range temp or even high 98 range temp, no other symptoms other than acting a little off, only to be called an hour later to come pick them up because they had a 100+ temp and/or were puking. That is never a fun call. I’d rather have my kid be mad at me for all of a day (if that long) than to have the school and several parents angry. I figure, I can make it up to my kid by doing something special, but I cannot make it up to the school or parents. I know I get irritated when people send kids sick, so I probably wouldn’t take the risk.

    On a side note, I worked at a Day Care where I had a 18 month old who came for a week with a temp over 103 (no lies); parents had dosed her up on Advil/Tylenol so that she was fever free until she’d been there an hour or so, then conveniently could not come get her until after 6pm when we closed though they said they’d come right away. Their excuse? “Doctor says it’s an ear infection, but doesn’t want to give her medication.” Sounds fishy to me, too, especially since most of the kids in the room ended up sick over the next week or so. They’d even had her in the ER a few times over that week…Made me wonder about them as parents and about the hospital they went to.

    • Oh my Gosh, Julie, that story about the daycare baby is a nightmare!! I would have been FURIOUS!

      I know exactly what you mean about sending them and getting the call. It is never a good feeling at all!

      • I was! I felt so bad for the little girl more than anything. There was nothing I could do, but I wish my boss had (she knew about it). It was one of those situations where I knew the parents were essentially good people, but they felt they just couldn’t miss the day (or longer) to take care of their daughter. It made me mad at their jobs as well as extremely frustrated. You just didn’t know what to think.

  19. School for sure. Sorry to say that even when it’s not a big day (Thanksgiving feast or other holiday party or anticipated day), I would probably still send my kiddo. Unless I was at my wit’s end with my job and I absolutely needed a day off…then I would totes take advantage of the situation πŸ™‚

  20. Alright Ladies,
    I am a bit mad at you now…I read this early this morning and I was prepared to answer that I would send the kid to school anyway and hope for the best. Then the phone rang. The school called me WHILE I WAS READING THIS POST!!! So I have Henry with me at work, because he’s “sick” and has a bad cough. I know he’s faking it; he knows he’s faking it. He knows that *I* know he’s faking it. But he sure is enjoying himself playing in my office all day long!

    • I am not laughing at this, I swear Rabia…but seriously, what are the odds of this happening AFTER reading this post??!! Dude. That is so unfair. πŸ˜‰

  21. ok, when I saw the title question, I snickered and though, CHEAT of course, who wouldn’t say that? They’d be lying. But then after reading the content, ugh–you win, truth. Sick kids are the trump card. I would follow the rules and not infect all the other kids. Here’s to getting it all out before the holidays come.

  22. I think it goes with knowing your child. My son has a habit off feeling better, no fever, send him to school, only to get the call a few hours later, vomiting and fever are back. So I usually follow the rules. 24 hrs with no fever, no symptoms, back to school.

    • LOL Kate…in that case, they will never want to go to school…or at least that is what would happen in my house! πŸ˜‰

  23. I really wanna say cheat in this case (I am usually a strict rule follower) but I absolutely cannot handle feeling guilty…makes me want to jump off a cliff or something. So I cannot possibly take the risk of infecting a whole class just for some time of my own. I’d follow the rules and suffer a little πŸ™‚

  24. I am a rule follower in almost all areas of my life. That said, I would send them to school. Every mom knows their own kid – it is crystal clear to me when mine are sick and when they are just blah.

  25. Us should follow the “rules” of our internal intuitivity. The school’s handbook ain’t got nothin’ on that. Gotta love those miraculous recoveries 30 minutes after deciding to keep a kid home. LOL!

  26. The first scenario? I would have packed their tush up and dropped them off – signing them in as a “drs appt”.. the second one.. I probably would have kept them home. And if someone sends their kid in and mine gets sick before the holidays, you might find me on your doorstep. For the most part, I am a rule follower (shocking I know).

  27. I have certainly been known to if not break then at least bend a rule or two in this area, but when it comes to a possible stomach virus I think I might keep my little dear home. Don’t hold me to this, but I think I would! xo

  28. Considering how often the baby got sick last year, I have to scrimp and save my PTO for the times that really count. So, if it’s not too bad the kids go to school. (I’ve even been known to give a little Tylenol if we’re pretty sure it’s just something simple like teething)

  29. This is a tough one for sure! I usually err on the side of caution. I’ve had a couple of my kids throw up at school, and I’ve felt so bad afterward. The harder thing for me is trying to decipher if my child is “really sick” or just wanting a day off!

    • I know. I feel the same Melanie. It is always so hard to know if they are really sick, especially in these kinds of cases!

  30. All I know is SOMEBODY sent their kid to school with one of my nieces that week in the year of 2003 and then 11 out of the 13 of us at my family Thanksgiving Dinner ended up with it the Friday AFTER Thanksgiving. Chew on that. Or you know, don’t think about chewing because Eww…

    Anyway, it was HORRID. So yeah, keep your kid home (in my humble, I will never forget that Thanksgiving experience ever, opinion) πŸ˜‰

    • Love this so much Elaine…I mean except for the part about your entire family becoming ill…that is the worst ever! I was sick one Thanksgiving, and it was the WORST! It took me years to eat apple pie again.

  31. I sent mine to school all the time. Actually the oldest two didn’t really get sick but Lucas did all the time. So much that we’ve called him Pukey Lukey his entire life. Probably not a nickname he wants me sharing outside of the house. He’s had epilepsy and migraines pretty much his entire life. The thing is, migraines make him sick to his stomach and sometime even run a fever. If I had followed the rules I would have had to home school. I knew he wasn’t infecting anyone with anything and as long has his migraine was under control I felt free to send him to school.

    • I definitely understand exactly what you are saying Carli! Poor Luke. πŸ™ We will keep his nickname a secret! πŸ˜‰

  32. With no fever and a tummy that was feeling better I’d send her to school. Then I’d pray that I’d made the right decision and did not set her up for the grand-daddy of all childhood embarrassments: barfing at school.

  33. I want to go into a long comment on this post so bad. I don’t understand why it really is lighting up this desire to go on a venting session. However, I’d definitely break the rules.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *