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6 Things to Do When You Can’t Call in Sick - Jennifer Elia

6 Things to Do When You Can’t Call in Sick


Does the teacher need a sick day? Jennifer Elia offers her tried and true tips for keeping school and momentum going when sickness strikes your homeschool.

Why Don’t I Have Sick Days?

My husband and I have a running joke in our home. At least twice a year, I get bogged down with trying to fight off a cold and keep up with everything else, so I throw up my hands and say, “That’s it, we need to re-negotiate my contract. I want sick days.”

To which he replies, “How much are we paying you, again?”

I lovingly, but begrudgingly, remind him, “Nothing!”

“Ok, we’ll triple your salary. There, that solves it.”

Even with working and schooling at home, sickness finds its way in. However, hardworking homeschool moms don’t have an option of sick days.

Here are some tips for sick teacher-moms and their student-children to keep on schooling when the latest bug shows up at your door.

1. Pare down to basics for a few days.

We all have lesson plans and checklists.

It is important to stay on top of what needs to be done and keep a steady rhythm. However, pushing yourself to the brink of collapse for the sake of checklists benefits no one. Stick to reading, handwriting, math, and religion—the rest can wait.

Yes, you will be a chapter behind in science, but you can double up somewhere else.

A few days of just the basics will keep your school door open, which is more important for consistency than getting the entire plan done every day.

2. Call in comfy when you can’t call in sick.

When you are sick, all you want is some warm clothes and a comfortable place to relax.

Let everyone stay in pajamas and do their work in bed or on the sofa, wherever and however they are comfortable. Whether you are the one under the weather, or any number of the kids, letting everyone have a “down day” will make school easier to bear all around.

Everyone thinks homeschoolers never get out of their pajamas anyway; let them be right for a day or two.

3. Spend more time in read alouds.

Even sick kids can listen to the stories, and it will help to structure the day without a lot of effort. Gather all the children and curl up with a good book or three. Forget your ailing heads and stuffed up noses as you go on a grand adventure while still warm and cozy in your own home.

Take breaks for warm drinks and snacks to keep the healing process heading in the right direction.

4. Create a backup plan.

Sometimes a pared down schedule is still too much for a sick teacher, and laryngitis may have stolen your fantastic reading voice. It doesn’t mean that education has to stop. Keeping children engaged and busy without you will make your recovery easier and keep you from losing momentum for the year.

Have a list of educational movies and a stash of audiobooks on hand before illness strikes. My house is never more quiet than when everyone is in their rooms lost in the latest audiobook find. Their minds will be kept busy while their bodies are quiet, a perfect recipe for everyone to get the extra rest they need to beat the bug.

5. Make Saturday the new Wednesday.

Even though homeschooling allows sick students to stay home and school in pj’s, there are some times that you just need to declare a school holiday and shut your school room door for the day. Reorganize your schedule to make up for it and don’t worry about working when it’s not “school hours.”

When the flu hit our house HARD last winter, no one could even get out of bed. School was suspended until further notice. We caught up in the evenings with Dad and on weekends, and before we knew it, it was as if it never happened. We still finished our school year on time.

6. Take lots of tea and time.

Provide soothing meals like tea and toast or hot soup, and then make some time to cuddle. (Our favorite sick day soup recipe is two boxes of broth, two cups of dry pasta, and a bag of frozen, mixed vegetables. Pour broth into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rest. Cook on medium-low until everything is warm and pasta is soft. It doesn’t get much easier than that!)

The cobwebs, laundry, and quantum physics will keep for another day, but the time you spend with your child is brief.

Don’t be afraid to let it all slide.

Header photo CC tcsaba | adobestock.com

About Jennifer Elia

Jennifer Elia
Jennifer is a homeschooling mom of four with three tiny saints in Heaven. She is married to her high school sweetheart and together they are striving to keep their family headed for Heaven.

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