An Open Letter To My Fellow Daycare Parents

By Kristi Guest Blogger from The Fischer Family

Dear Daycare Parents,

Let’s talk about daycare etiquette. Specifically, let’s talk about sick kid etiquette.

Let’s start by agreeing that you and I, we both love our jobs.  We work at the same place, for the same employer who is really great and provides us with a daycare at our school.  And we are in the business of educating kids. And we all know that being sick from school is hard. Really hard. Those damn sub plans are more work to write than actually going to work and teaching with a sick kid on your hip.

Yes, kids get sick. My kid, he started daycare in May after series of unfortunate events with a nanny we loved.  And he has been really sick since May. Those damn germs have gotten the best of him. Honestly, I can’t tell you last day his nose wasn’t running. The cold, rainy, moist weather the past two months has not helped but the biggest culprit is your kids. Yes, you read it right.  I blame you and your kids are the problem.

There is a policy in place for a reason. I know, I know staying at home with a 2 year old who is sick is not easy. They still have more energy than we ever will when they are sick. They are whiny, their nose needs wiping; sometimes there is puke and always nasty diapers.

But, when they run a fever I am begging you to keep them home.  The rule is in place for a reason. 24 hours FEVER FREE. Not 2, not 12, not 20.  24 hours FEVER FREE. That means if they are running a fever on Thursday morning, they should not be at daycare on Friday.

And you shouldn’t be proud to tell the rest of us dropping our kids off that your kid’s fever was 104 the day before.  Because that means that you aren’t following the rules. And my kid suffers.

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And you shouldn’t try to smooth it over by telling us that your kid “missed his friends”.  Honestly, he doesn’t.  Your kid wants to be at home in his pajamas, with Toy Story on TV, curled up next to you.

And when you leave and your kid’s eyes are watering, his nose is dripping thick green snot and he is coughing uncontrollably, you would think that something would tell you that your kid should not be at daycare. But it doesn’t.  And my kid suffers. So does yours if I am being honest.

Every weekend I feel like we are in triage mode. Trying to put our kid back together after whatever germs he comes home with during the week.  We are wiping noses, giving Tylenol, keeping our kids separated to spare our infant and paying our pediatrician’s salary with 8 sick visits in the past five weeks at $20 a pop. This is the first weekend we haven’t been at the doctor since I went back to work after Thanksgiving.

We have had croup and strep twice, once it even came along with vomiting, and fifth’s disease and every other viral illness out there. And yes, I know that my kid can pick up and spread things around as well.  But honestly, I don’t know how since we spend most of our weekends nursing him back to health at home instead of getting to enjoy him.  We take his temperature almost daily just to make sure.

In December my child was out of daycare for three weeks. Yes, you read me right. Three weeks because his little body just couldn’t fight all the germs anymore. And maybe it was a good thing because the week after Christmas, his nose for the first time since May was not running. But, I still believe that if you and I followed the same sick policy we might not have been there. That I might not have had to miss almost a week of work two weeks after I returned from maternity leave with my second.  We might not have had a 2 year old with a 104 degree fever that wouldn’t break, who didn’t eat for days, who screamed for days that “he hurt” and begged for medicine.

So, do me a favor. Next time, you think about bringing your kid to daycare follow that good ole rule…if you have to ask yourself if it okay, it probably isn’t.  Do us all a favor, write those damn plans and stay home. I will if you do.


Another Daycare Parent


Kristi, is a urban Chicago mama who is yearning to be a suburban mama.  She spends her day as department chair at a large high school in Chicago suburbs and returns to the Windy City at night.   She is busy raising with her husband Brady (27 months) who is a sweet as can be and Cate (5 months) who has made Kristi question her sanity. When she is not commuting with her kids or teaching other kids, she enjoys working out, doing yoga, shopping and spending time with her husband.  She blogs at The Fisher Family  about her crazy busy life as a working mama and you can follow Kristi on twitter @mamaofthefisch.


  • Lindsay says:

    You tell ‘em!
    Twitter: Lilloveandluck

  • Brandy says:

    Well I can tell you it gets better.  I agree with the policies( and I know them since we go to the same chain!) and we stick to them. First year Landon was in there, sick CONSTANTLY.  I remember crying at work because I never could work a full week.  But now? We are rarely out.  I credit it to the immunity he built being sick those many times in infants. Or it could be he is a healthy eater and helps build it that way too but I really do think he spent his time in the trenches (of snot). Other kids that have come in a little older have all had the same problem.  They drop like flies. And then kids who don’t go to daycare much before school. drop like flies in kindergarten.

    So while I do agree with your point to stick to the daycare policies on fevers, it also isn’t always the culprit. It is our right of passage as daycare moms :) BTW the daycare germs are having a field day with my weakened immune system from this fetus.  It is ridiculous. :)
    Brandy recently posted..Mommy Slave Driver?My Profile
    Twitter: mannlymama

    • Mama Fisch says:

      I do think eating and sleeping plays a part in all of our immune systems and I agree it is a rite of passage but I still think there are times that parents just selfishly send their kids to daycare because they need to get another day in at work, don’t want to deal with it, or just don’t consider anyone else.
      Mama Fisch recently posted..An Open Letter to my Fellow Daycare ParentsMy Profile
      Twitter: mamaofthefisch

  • Law Momma says:

    Hahahahaha… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t laugh. But it’s just so true. Everyone is trying to make sure they get that extra day of work at their kid/your kid’s expense.

  • Donna says:

    I think some of it boils down to having respect for other families. I know your job is important but so is mine… kids get sick as parents it is our job to stay home and help them feel better. I love our day care provider she has a no tolerance policy, if your kid is sick they are not allowed to stay. If you break the policy more than once or twice you and your kid are kicked to the curb.Kids who become sick during the day are sent to the “sick room” until someone can come get them. My daughter has been in the same daycare since she was 7 weeks old (she is now 3.5) she has stayed home sick a total of 4 days. I love that all of the parents know that it is not optional to send an infected kid to school.
    Donna recently posted..Working Mom Grocery Shopping TipsMy Profile

  • Heather says:

    This is crazy. Kids that go to daycare (especially large centers) are going to get sick. A lot, and especially when they first start. The other parents are not conspiring against you: this is life. Someday you are going to send your kid in sick, I can almost 100% guarantee it. I don’t know how many times I have sent one of my kids to daycare without any coughing or sneezing, and picked him/her up in the afternoon with green snot dripping from his/her nose. And then the next week, yup the other kids are sick. It goes both ways. And some new mom with her sick kid is going to hate you (until, of course, she does the same thing). And this spring, watch what you say: a lot of kids have allergies. I am sorry if I sound harsh, but this is almost like a daycare parent’s right of passage. Just wait until the day your kid gets bit (and then the day that YOUR kid bites.)

    • Heather says:

      BTW, I do totally agree with you about the fever thing.

    • Tracy says:

      I don’t think Kristi is saying not to send your kid with a cold or anything like that. She’s touching on the fact that when your kid had a fever the day before or was puking the day before. The same goes for public schools. You have to be 24 hours free of fever and the puke before coming back. It’s all about those contagious fevers and stomach flu’s.  And the coughing…if your kid is coughing uncontrollably and having coughing fits, they shouldn’t be at school either. From my experience of having a kid with has respiratory issues from coughing so much, we’ve kept her home. It most likely means they are wheezing and struggling to breathe. I’ve been dealing with coughing/asthma like symptoms with my daughter for over a year.  I don’t think it’s fair of you to call her post crazy. As parents who send our kids to daycare, we know they will get sick. 
      Twitter: wa_tracy

    • Mama Fisch says:

      I can honestly tell you that I have not sent my kids to daycare sick. If they have a runny nose, which seems to be frequent, yes I send them. But do I send them if they are coughing non-stop, dripping with colored snot, running fever, have the runs or puking? 100% no way. I get 180 sick days and additional 30 every year I teach and that is what they are there for. We all have them. If I am being honest, I think some people just think they are “too important” to stay home or just don’t get it.
      Mama Fisch recently posted..An Open Letter to my Fellow Daycare ParentsMy Profile
      Twitter: mamaofthefisch

    • Heather says:

      I stick 100% behind my original post. But maybe I am a little sensitive due to an issue I had with a mother last spring. I was picking up my kids when she ran up to me (while I was WITH my kids) and berated me and my son for making her kid sick. My son has horrible seasonal allergies and his nose was running constantly for almost two months last year. I calmly gave her my Ped’s number so she could explain that allergies are not contagious. Thank goodness she is not around this year so her son cannot catch the ragweed from my kid again.

      • Brandee says:

        I think it’s about making an intelligent choice. As you said Heather, your child has allergies. If you know this to be the case, and explain it to the daycare so you aren’t forced to keep your kid home from March through June, then there is nothing wrong with your runny nosed kid going to daycare. You know your kid isn’t sick, and you aren’t purposefully putting other kids at risk then, you’re doing the right thing. 

        But there are those other people who think “well it was only a slight fever” or “they always cough more in the morning” or “they don’t seem to be acting too off” and send their kid in with a full on sickness. And this is when it’s infuriating. I stay home with my kid when she’s sick, according to the guidelines, because if I don’t and she spreads it around, they will shut the centre to clean it or worse, she’ll head back to school and pick up the same bug and we’ll start all over. 

        My kid has been sick like everyone else’s since starting daycare. The centre recently had a vicious bout of Norovirus. It happens, it is going to happen. I just think if you KNOW your kid is quite ill and send them to daycare, that you’re sense of entitlement is way off the charts. If your kid has the sniffles (like mine has for oh, a year lol) or allergies then, send away. No harm no foul. 
        Brandee recently posted..Nothing Good Ever Came EasyMy Profile
        Twitter: Babe_Chilla

  • Jennifer says:

    I agree. Have a fever? Stay at home. The FULL 24 hours.

    But… I have to agree with Brandy as well. Kids in daycare get sick more often than kids that aren’t. They just do. The good news is that after a year or so then it gets better. It gets a LOT better, and by the time your son is in Kindergarten he will have the best little immune system and won’t catch all of the stuff that is keeping the other kids home from real school.
    Jennifer recently posted..StillMy Profile

  • Jess says:

    AMEN SISTER.  I missed literally half the month of work. It’s just mean to make the kids suffer.
    Jess recently posted..On your next bad day, remember…My Profile
    Twitter: jessesco

  • Jess says:

    And 24 hours fever free means WITHOUT Tylenol!
    Twitter: jessesco

  • Tracy says:

    Let me just say, last Wednesday, when I picked Abby up, a kid in her class had just thrown up. Abby even told me so. The teacher said it was because he has lactose issues. (Let’s not get into the fact that her teacher shares info about other kids with me…I don’t tell her anything…that’s a whole other issue.) So the next day, the kid was there. And you know what, Thursday night, Abby was puking. I know it’s unavoidable to get the stomach flu when one toddler had it, but it makes me wonder the what if’s….what if that kid was kept home the next day….would Abby have avoided getting the stomach flu?  
    Twitter: wa_tracy

  • Shannon says:

    One thing I just do not understand is why does the daycare not contact the teachers and tell them to come get their children and bring them home if they are sick? Or refuse them to come in in the first place?
    Shannon recently posted..Working Mom or Mom Who Works?My Profile

    • Mama Fisch says:

      The director of the center does contact us and it is not an option. The gray area is when your kid has a fever the day/night before and you still send them the next day. The center can’t regulate what you do at home and the decisions you make. My plea is only to keep your kids home if they are sick…not a cold…just plain sick.
      Mama Fisch recently posted..An Open Letter to my Fellow Daycare ParentsMy Profile
      Twitter: mamaofthefisch

      • Brittany says:

        But how do you know when they are sick and when it’s just a cold? That is a very fine line, and often, by the time you figure out that the cold is something more (RSV, strep, etc…), your child has already been to daycare. Coughing, sneezing, yellow mucus, etc… are not good indicators because my child has had all three continuously since she started daycare at 12 weeks old.

        • Tracy says:

          You don’t know when it starts out. Abby got RSV. And it even took 2 doctor’s visits for them to even decide to test her for it. It’s not a perfect science. Nothing about parenting is. I just trust my gut and go with that. Also, I’ve found via research that most illnesses are contagious 2-3 days before symptoms even show up. Ugh. So not helpful. 
          Twitter: wa_tracy

    • Tracy says:

      If they aren’t calling, then that’s a problem. If your kid has a fever or is puking, they HAVE to call. I’ve had to leave work. My husband has had to leave work. If it’s a cold only, they don’t call. But I’ve also been called when Abby doesn’t have a fever or is puking, but is just listless b/c she’s not feeling well. 
      Twitter: wa_tracy

  • Kate says:

    I totally agree with you 100% about not bringing the kids in sick – BUT if you do your research on a lot of these childhood illnesses (my son just had Fifths Disease, for example) – they are actually MOST contagious prior to the child being symptomatic.

    Last week little Sophie got Fifths in my son’s class – didn’t show up on Monday for daycare when she spiked a fever, and in fact wasn’t back in class yet when my son got sick- but the damage was already done, and by mid-week about half the class was sick with it as well, having picked it up from her the prior week.  People at my daycare are generally good about not bringing the kids in when they are for sure sick (fevers, vomiting), but unfortunately even just keeping them home when they are showing symptoms doesn’t prevent the spread of the germs.  We can never really know they are incubating something and contagious until they actually get sick.
    Twitter: katieyoda

    • Brandee says:

      That is a huge problem, especially for things like Fifths. 

      At the end of the day, there isn’t a lot that can be done to protect kids from illness we don’t yet know are active. The only thing we CAN do, is try to lessen the overall impact of kids getting sick by keeping them home when we KNOW they are sick. 

      Obviously a fever is indicative of something, and when there is vomit or diarrhea present, that’s something that transfers and spreads so easily. We can only do what we can do, and hope to keep the germ spread to the minimum. 
      Brandee recently posted..Nothing Good Ever Came EasyMy Profile
      Twitter: Babe_Chilla

  • Brandee says:

    The norovirus has been spreading like wildfire through my kids centre lately. We know that because they tested it. We also know where it came from originally because, one of the moms in the infant room dropped her kid off when she herself was quite ill and said to the daycare people “I am going home to take a sick day”. Her kid then got sick in the afternoon, and she left him there for a few hours. At our centre diarrhea or vomit is an immediate send home. The mom came to get her kid and I heard her saying “Ya he had a fever this morning and I was hoping it was nothing, so I just gave him Tylenol”. And now? Out of 23 other children, 19 have them have had the Norovirus (including mine). Many of them have wound up in the ER due to dehydration and the centre was closed to all parents for a few days.

    These are the people that need a good head shake. I GET that she was feeling sick and NEEDED rest. I so understand that. But there is a fever policy for a reason, and dosing with Tylenol to fake your way around it does nothing but make you a liar.  

    I have most certainly sent my child to school with a cold or a runny nose. I mean, how could you not sometimes? But even after she coughed until she threw up one time, I kept her home for the 48 HOURS my centre insists on. I knew the vomit wasn’t a stomach bug but more a thing from her dry cough (gets that from mama) and on day 2? She was FINE, but I followed the rules, for the sake of other parents. Because, do onto others as you’d have them do onto you, right? 

    Kids are going to get sick at daycare, it’s going to happen. But it can happen less if people adhere to the policies. I am sorry but, no one’s job is more important than anyone else’s. None of us can afford the time off, no one wants to do it but, you have a kid and you work, it’s a part of the choice you made. Don’t knowingly infect my kid because somehow you think rules don’t apply to you. 
    Brandee recently posted..Nothing Good Ever Came EasyMy Profile
    Twitter: Babe_Chilla

  • Mama Fischer says:

    No, I actually get 180 days towards my sick bank and retirement. Like I said, I teach in a fabulous district where the benefits are the best I know of and I am grateful for that.
    Twitter: mamaofthefisch

    • Tracy says:

      That is amazeballs. When I had Abby, after teaching for 2.5 years, I had 30 days of paid sick time saved…of course I used some of the other sick time, but that’ show much I had. At the start of each year, we get more, and they do roll over to the next year. So you start with 180 days to a bank and then every year you get more added? Can I please work where you do ;)
      Twitter: wa_tracy

  • KeAnne says:

    My MIL takes care of my son during the day, but I have been amazed at how he still has his fair share of colds/illness. And lucky for us, we all just keep passing it back and forth amongst the family. D definitely became sick a little more frequently last fall when he started preschool and I’m hoping like Brandy said, it is building up his little immune system. What really surprises me is how much more often *I* get sick now. I almost never got sick for D was born. Now we all share colds :-)
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    Twitter: KeAnne

  • shasta says:

    While I agree with you (mostly, although some of us don’t get a bazillon sick days), I think it’s easy to cast blame until your kid is the one who unintentionally sets off a round of sickness. My daughter spiked a fever last August during one school day, but no one noticed because it was 80 degrees outside and everyone was running around sweating. It wasn’t until I picked her up and asked about the slightly runny nose did anyone start to suspect something. BOOM – patient zero.
    shasta recently posted..Movie Forecast Through SundayMy Profile
    Twitter: wave412

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