Do you send your kids to church when they’re coughing?

by Lesley on February 6, 2014 · 13 comments

in motherhood

We’re smack in the middle of cold and flu season so it seems like an appropriate time for a frank and awkward conversation about runny noses, nasty coughs, and children who don’t cover their mouths, like, ever.

This is our second cold and flu season with a toddler. And while we’ve (knock on wood) weathered the season better than last year, I still can’t believe how often Anna gets sick. In fact I started keeping a log last August, and she’s had some type of illness every single month since then. Of course most of her illnesses are minor—a mostly clear runny nose and some coughing—but STILL.

Last winter, after Anna had pink eye, croup and the stomach bug (twice) I asked our pediatrician if she was a particularly germy kid. Did we need to do something different to keep her healthy? Our doctor said that most young children pick up an average of one illness a month (!!!) especially when they start visiting daycare or attending school. She assured me our kids need to battle all these annoying little cold bugs in order to build their immunity.

The most annoying part about children’s illnesses, in my opinion, is how the symptoms linger much longer than they do for adults. When Owen and Anna were sick last fall we went to the doctor because neither of them could stop coughing. I was convinced Owen had pneumonia.  But it was just the common cold, and a doctor’s hypothesis that our kids simply have tiny airways and perhaps struggle with colds more than the average child.

So, here’s my question: when your child is sick with the common cold, how long do you wait before letting them attend Sunday School or any other playgroup/preschool setting?

The reason I ask is because I have opinions on the matter, but I always second-guess myself. A few weeks ago Owen started coughing right as I dropped him off at the church nursery. The volunteer gave me one of those looks, “Are you sure?” and I had to explain, “He’s had a cold for weeks. He’s not contagious, and he sounds much worse than he actually is.” (Please believe me! Gulp.)

When my kids are coughing at church or on the playground I’m always a little nervous other parents will think my kids are infecting their kids. But with how long it takes children’s’ symptoms to disappear, we’d be home ALL winter if we waited for the last sniffle to dry up. My general guideline is to keep them away from other children for at least the first 2-3 days of symptoms. If the symptoms are minor and improving (clear runny nose, dry cough) I will usually allow our kids to be around others.

I’ve also just accepted that any public place—church, playground, birthday party, preschool, etc.—is germy. We’re washing hands with much greater frequency this winter and giving Anna vitamins and probiotics.

What is your philosophy on keeping children quarantined?  Are you surprised by how often they’re sick? If not, what’s your secret to keeping them healthy?

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13 comments
Michelleackerperez
Michelleackerperez

love this. I'm with you....I'm not particularly germy--- BUT I do notice I flinch a little every time strangers touch Elena's hands. I always think she's gonna get sick. Thankfully, she's been a pretty healthy kiddo so far. In terms of mom's groups and play-dates since I tend to be on the more lax side of germs I have no problem taking her places with a little cough or runny nose. However, I am learning that it's nice to try and and call another mom first and let them know "Elena's had a cold this week, still ok if we come over?" For the more germ-conscious friends I find this little phone call ahead of time helps. We don't have a church nursery (sad) or public library (doubly sad) so I can't say what we 'd do with those more public places. 

katiebrown
katiebrown

Yeah....Isaiah has had a cough and runny nose for awhile.  He really only coughs at night...I have dropped him off at the church nursery every week...wiping his nose as I leave....I just don't want to stay home :/  (I mean I would if I thought he was really sick....) 

Sarahkerner
Sarahkerner

Yeah, you've just got to send them... what are we supposed to do, stay inside and cooped up all winter long?  My theory is, if he got the bug at church/preschool/etc, he can go to church when he's still recovering from it.  

caramac54
caramac54

Ugh.  Welcome to my LIFE.  While I generally follow the same rule you do (i.e.: just not at the height of said sickness), I'm always a little bit amazed that every other parent/group has their own set of rules.  One mom's group I go to, weekly, says, YES - who cares if a kid has a cold?  But together we've mused at whether or not we just keep circling the same bug, because some kid or another is sick every single week.  Yet, I remember another time I went to visit a mom's group over in the east bay to hear a friend speak, and they wouldn't let Canon in the nursery, even though he was DAYS past the height of the cold.  They seemed appalled that I'd even take a chance at exposure!  (Needless to say, I didn't hear her speak, as I was chasing him around).  So, I'm with you - the verdict remains undecided!

tim_fall
tim_fall

I figured if the kids were coughing up gunk or their noses were running the colors of the rainbow, they should be away from others. Dry coughs or a little bit of clear nose drip are not worth quarantining somebody over. But if a parent made a stink, I just kept the kids with me. They're good company.

ClaireBaganzBone
ClaireBaganzBone

I am with you! Our kids have allergies/asthma so they sound or look sick from November to March! We used to hole up to try to get well first, but they ate just always a little snotty. It is how it is!

christiearley
christiearley

So here's the thing most viruses are more contiguous right before symptoms appear, so you don't even know your passing it along, that being said I choose to a) not get annoyed when my kids get sick from a friend (there's a chance that they actually got it somewhere else anyway) b) we only stay home if fever or they are cranky and unpleasant for others to be around or they have stomach bug. We do a multi vitamin and probiotics and I use all of the highlands products; tiny colds, teething tabs and cough syrup. And when they do cough and some stranger mom gives me a "why are you out you two headed monster" I just ignore her. During flu season i try to avoid indoor play places and we wash hands a lot and I avoid library or clean the books with Lysol before my kids get a hold of them. Oh and we do a whole lot more baths, my neurotic mind envisions this helps was away more of the germies....really just me being crazy mom I don't think there is truth to it.

marisaloper
marisaloper

ughhhhhhh don't even get me started. Because where we live you can't play outdoors (at least not for more than 30 min usually) during the winter there are many indoor play options to choose from but the GERMS!! I am like you - green snot, the first 3-4 days of symptoms, or less than 24 hours of a fever are all quarantine zones. But, also like you, we would never leave the house if I waited until both kids were symptom free! We have kept our kids in the service with us at church before just so we could go but I always hate picking up my healthy kid only to see the kid with the snot running down their face! (I try not to be "that" mom that is guilty of the snotty kid) I recently got Hyland's baby cough syrup for Kiah - no sugars, just honey, and that seemed to help for coughs. Other than that I got nothing. Sleep, cut back on sugar, and lots of water!

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@caramac54  It's actually nice to hear that every church and friend group is different because it gives me permission to do what I think is best based on my judgement and wisdom. And moms usually know best when it comes to their child! 

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@christiearley  Love all this info, Christie! Thank you! I'm super into bath time because it kills 30 minutes at a crazy time of day. (Wait, did I just say that out loud?)

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@marisaloper  Love hearing about the Hyland's cough syrup... I think I'll try that next time Anna is sick! 

marisaloper
marisaloper

@LesleyM @marisaloper what probiotics do you give Anna? I want to start one for Kiah even though he eats yogurt every day for lunch. Also I just learned about elderberry syrup... they have a kids version and sell it on amazon! I'm going to try it (after going to church a week ago with healthy kids, by Tuesday we were back in snot city so I am willing to try just about anything to kill this.)

LesleyM
LesleyM moderator

@marisaloper I bought Nature's Plus Animal Parade Acidophikidz. It's 90 tablets for about $15 which, in my mind, is a total steal. $5 a month! She hasn't gotten the tummy flu this season, knock on wood, and had it twice last year before February.