The following is a guest post in the “Mothers Return to Work” series. Please welcome Renee from Nee Say as she shares her tips for managing the inevitable issue of juggling sick children and your job.
It’s 5.31am. You have just hit snooze and are lying in bed contemplating what you are going to wear to work today. You’ve just decided on that new blue dress and some cute flats when suddenly you hear some movement. You open your eyes to see a small figure standing by your bedside. A snuffly voice says “Mummy, I sick”. *sigh*
When I started back at work, the last thing I ever considered was how much time I’d need to take off for sick kids.
Of course, I wasn’t completely naive, but considering my first son had never really been sick before I sent him off to kindy at age 3, I had no idea what I was in for.
My error lay with underestimating the germ incubator that is automatically created when you gather 2 or more small children together. It doesn’t matter how clean the centre is or what their nose wiping policy is. Your child will get sick.
The best way to manage this situation is to stock up on children’s panadol and hand santitiser and PLAN.
Here are some things you might want to consider before returning to work or when you are negotiating your employment arrangements:
1. Be open with your employer about the need for flexibility.
2. Ask about sick leave/carer leave entitlements.
3. Make sure any agreements with your employer are in writing (and you both have a copy!)
4. Plan for the inevitable. What will you do if your child is sick? Are there friends or family who can care for them if you can’t take time off for some reason? It’s a good idea to have a plan B & even C in the event that your usual arrangements fall through.
5. It’s also worth considering “What is sick?” For instance, I know that my youngest, an asthma suffer, will have a constantly runny nose and wheezy cough ALL winter. If I was to keep him home every day he had these symptoms I may as well not work at all and just keep him at home until he’s 18. Instead, I have an open dialogue with his carers about his condition. They know when to give him his puffer and if they think he is he’s at risk of an asthma attack or he has a fever then they call me straight away. Likewise, if his runny nose isn’t clear or I have a suspicion his symptoms are from a virus, then I keep him at home.
Please note: I am by no means advocating for you to send a sick child to care. Trust me, the other mums will not thank you and you will be cursing when the “favour” is returned.
6. Check with the daycare about their centre policies on illness. Be prepared to keep your child home for more than one day if the illness meets certain criteria. There are often stipulated exclusion periods when there are signs of a contagious illness e.g. gastro symptoms. You may need to present a medical certificate to say your child has been cleared by a doctor.
7. At the end of the day, the most important thing to focus on is doing the best by you and your child.
Additional reading : The working parents’ guide to dealing with sick kids from Today’s parent magazine.
Blogger bio: Renée is a wife, mother and worker bee whose passions include coffee, handbags and keeping it real. A self-confessed over sharer, when not blogging at Née Say about life with her menagerie, she can be found lurking on Facebook or Instagram.
Return to work series:
Getting started – with Allison Tait (and giveaway of Career Mums book which ends July 19)
While on leave - career breaks
On Flexibility - temp jobs, flexible hours etc