Sick kid etiquette + how to survive the holidays with ill children

Etiquette tips for surviving the holidays when you (or your kids) are sick
Share you best sick kid etiquette tips with me and you could win a Shoppers gift basket (Photo credit:

Who are these parents who bring their sick kids to public places? I can’t handle that kind of selfishness. Last flu season, a Shoppers Drug Mart poll found 30% of adults with children, have sent their kids to school or daycare when they were sick or contagious. Yet, 86% of parents said they’re annoyed when others send their sick kids to school or daycare. No kidding!

I know all too well how cumbersome sorting childcare can be. When my daughter is under the weather, you know who (the parent who conveniently works from home) is on tap for caring for her. I need that extra stress like I need another deadline, but I suck it up because I’m a superior human being. Here are my best tips on how to survive the holidays with a sick kid, including etiquette I wish everyone followed.

Sick kid etiquette + how to survive the holidays with ill children
(Photo credit: New York Public Library Digital Collections)

How to survive the holidays when your kids are sick

This is a tough one, because it means you’re probably going to miss out on holiday fun, too. This is adulting. A parents main job is to keep their children safe and healthy. If kids are sick, they need rest more than they need to be entertained by holiday events. Here’s how you can make it more manageable:

  • Do split shifts with the other parent. One stays at home playing nurse, while the other gets their holiday on. Negotiate this. You need something to look forward to as well.
  • Scale back your holiday plans. A sick kid is a great excuse not to drive to Regina to see you in-laws. And forget about hosting a holiday dinner. Pass the buck.
  • Try to sell your tickets to holiday events. If you can’t sell them, gift them away. Tis the season and all that.
  • Spend less money on fancy food and drink. Nothing tastes the same when you’re sick, plus the sickie should be consuming less sugar and rich food anyway.
  • Think of this time as you do a snow day and hole up in your house surrounded by little pleasures. Go to town renting holiday movies, buying new books and magazines. Better yet, get the reading material from the library. This is the time to splurge on a new board game, Lego set or other pricy quiet toys.
  • Once they start to feel better, bundle up and head outdoors. The fresh air will do everyone good. Try something new like renting snowshoes for short winter walks or making snow art by squirting coloured water out of a water bottle. Going to a mall or any high stimulus place will likely make them feel worse, so keep the focus on short trips outdoors.
koala bear asleep in a tree
Rest, rest and more rest! (Photo credit: Jordan Whitt/Unsplash)

When a child’s fever is too high to go to school

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so check your child’s temperature frequently. The cutoff point for fevers (when children should stay at home) is when their temperature passes 100 degrees. Kids ought to be fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning to school or going out on playdates.

Should you bring sick child to a party?

Please don’t bring your child out in public or to somebody’s house (like mine!) if they’re under the weather. If you’re questioning it or if the event is really important (best friend’s birthday, etc…), be upfront with the other parents. Let the host know your situation and ask them how they feel about it.

Rant: I’m still annoyed at the mom who brought her sick kid to our house when we hosted a Christmas dinner a few years ago. The dad wasn’t there, so why couldn’t the kid have stayed with him? Naturally, my daughter got sick from said child and it affected our holiday. Grrrrr.

Teach your children sick kid etiquette

Easy ways kids can halt the spread of germs include:

  • Runny noses should be dabbed with a tissue, not their sleeve.
  • Coughs should go into the crook of their elbow, not their hands.
  • If they do cough or sneeze into their hands, they should be washed immediately. Buy some fun frothy soap or a dancing dispenser to make hand washing more enticing.

Get vaccinated

The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get vaccinated against it. Doing so also brings a peace of mind over the holidays. With all you have going on, you know you’ve done your best to prevent your children from catching or spreading the flu.

Getting the flu shot doesn’t need to be an onerous trek to your doctor, either. Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies across the country make it a cinch by offering flu shots administered by an injection-certified pharmacist. You don’t even need an appointment.  You just walk-in when it’s convenient for you and pick up a few stocking stuffers while you’re at it.


If you want to win a Shoppers Drug Mart cold and flu prize pack, share on social your best tips for sick kid etiquette. Tag me on Twitter (@Jody_Robbins) or Instagram (@TravelswBaggage) and including the #ShoppersFlu hashtag. Each piece of advice with the proper tagging and hashtag will net you one entry for the draw. Please comment by midnight, December 29, 2017 and I’ll randomly draw a winner the next day.

This post is sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Travels with Baggage, and for making my pharmacist, Bhavesh Patel, such a popular dude at the Shoppers on 17 Ave in Calgary:)

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