sickdays_sizedSome 6-year-olds are good at sports or music. My 6-year-old is good at catching everyone else’s cold. Since elementary school is only slightly more germ-filled than a petri dish, my kid has caught a lot of colds this school year. Practically speaking that means he’s missed 15 days of school. And it’s only February.  If he gets a few more sinus infections or earaches, he’ll get a prize. Or so I wish.

Truth be told, my kid is an awfully good patient. I work from home. But even when he’s sick in bed, I’m still able to get a lot of work done.  I just plop him in front of a movie, cover him in a cozy blanket and the only time I’ll hear from him is when he needs refill on snacks or drinks.  He’s a pretty low maintenance sick guy, totally content to hang quietly at home. Which is exactly the problem.

Sure, sinus infections are no fun and strep can be painful, but other than that a sick day is pretty awesome. Who doesn’t want to spend a day at home, homework-free, eating hot soup and watching movies? No one. That’s who. Add in the pediatrician suggesting the kid needs milk shakes or other cold foods like ice cream and a sick day starts to sound like a pretty great vacation from school. I worry my kid won’t want to go back to school.

I don’t want my kid to miserable just because he got sick, but I do want him to want to go back to school. So here’s a few tricks I use to take care of my sick kid without making a sick day seem better than school.

1. We do homework. Okay, a little homework. I either ask my son’s teachers to e-mail his homework for the day or I make some up of my own. We don’t do anything strenuous, but we do take time away from the iPad to do an educational project or craft.

2.  He doesn’t get to decide when he goes back to school. My house isn’t a democracy and my 6-year-old is not in charge. So while I’m interested in hearing if he’s not feeling well, I’m not interesting in his medical assessment of his ability to go to school.  Until he goes to med. school, I’ll decide when he’s ready to go back to school.

3. I tell him he’s going back to school the night before. Mornings are rushed and busy. So the night before my kid is returning to school, I let him know he’s going back. That way he knows what to expect the next day.

4. The rules of the house still apply. Yes, my kid is going to watch hours of TV when he’s home sick. But other than that, he’s still a citizen of the house and has to follow the rules. He’s still go to pick up after himself, make his bed and be a nice guy. Even when he’s cranky because his little throat hurts or his nose is running.

5. The TV doesn’t stay on all day. TV’s awesome. Too awesome. If he watches all day, he’ll never want to leave. I don’t.

Beyond that, if my kid is sick he’s get hugs and milkshakes. I may even join him!  A-choo.

How do you make sick days less fun?