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Kathy Buckworth Headshot

Advice to Moms: Milk "Sick Days"

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If it were possible to impale oneself on a tiny, plastic sword, I would have done it sometime during hour two of playing Lego pirates. Normally I can take this type of torture, but as my son and I struggled through a joint day of flu-like conditions, I was ready for an easier way out.

While kids love the idea of being sick and missing school, for moms it is a bit of a lose/lose. Unless that low-grade fever hits on the day we're supposed to head to our in-laws for a special family dinner, it's hard to find a good time to be sick. Children loathe being sick on a weekend, of course, as it seems like such a waste when they could be getting out of early Monday morning grade 9 geography. But if you're a stay at home mom (or work from home, like I do), this is the BEST time to be sick.

During the week, if you're sick and the kids aren't old enough to go to school, you're usually stuck "managing" them from the couch as you shuffle through all of the same duties you normally have. If they're older and you're lucky enough to send them all merrily off to school, it's still hard not to feel guilty about the laundry not being done, the dinner not being prepared, while the unreturned phone calls and unwritten reports silently nag you, as the house returns to its normal bomb-blast state. And when the kids and Dad arrive on the doorstep at the end of the day, at least one of them (usually the tall one) will wonder aloud what the heck you've been doing all day, because you seem fine now.

My advice is to do what the kids do -- fake it when it works for you to make up for the days that you're really sick and you don't get to BE sick. Spring it on a Saturday morning... just before the rounds of hockey practice, dance class, grocery shopping, birthday party attending and general chauffeuring of children begins. Write up a list for Dad to follow (here's a hint- - if you tell him to drop a kid at a birthday party for two hours, it is VERY important to tell him to also go back and pick up the same kid), tell the kids they have to be Daddy's helper (just like they're Mommy's helpers during the week. No, say it like it actually happens), and lay back and listen to the dulcet tones of Dad saying:

• "What do you mean it's your turn to bring snack to hockey? What does that mean? Can we take a box of cereal? What... and a drink? Grab that bag of milk."
• "Where's the card for this gift. You usually make one? We don't have time -- let's just make sure to yell out our name when they open it up. They don't open them in front of everyone?"
• "Sure you can wear your 'indoor shoes,' whatever those are. You're going to be indoors at the indoor playground after we get through the slushy parking lot, aren't you?"
• "You're hungry? Don't you get your own breakfast? You're four, right?"
• "We have to pick up who? Do I know this kid? Is he the one who bites?"
• "Your mother promised to do pottery painting this afternoon? Hmm... I heard that place burned down last week."
• "What do you kids want for dinner? It's special night with Daddy so you get fast food. I know Mom doesn't allow it, but we won't tell her."

Let them get away with it. Find a room with a door with a lock on it -- one that can't be picked with a tiny plastic sword -- and enjoy your sick day.

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