My biggest challenge as a working parent is what to do when my child is sick, which unfortunately is quite often. She is almost three, and for a large part of the year we seem to play musical viruses. She had RSV at only 8 weeks old -- came through it like a champ -- but it has been one thing after another since then. Ear infections (we got tubes), stomach viruses, colds, even pink eye. The pediatrician assures me she is basically healthy and that this is not unusual for a child in day care. I already switched to a smaller home day care, and it helped a bit, but she is still around kids of different ages. It doesn't help that almost every time she gets a cold, she runs a fever and cannot go to day care. My mother-in-law says my husband was the same way. He almost never gets sick now. That's good to know, but I need to find a way to keep my job! I have been with the same company for six years, and I started a new position in February with a new boss. Since then, I had to have surgery, my dad died, and my daughter has been sick three times. Thank God my sister helped out or I'm sure I would have been "disciplined" at work. My husband works in an all-male environment with a boss who thinks childcare is women's work (although I make much more money). He stays home with her sometimes, but both our bosses have made comments. My mom is too old to watch her and lives out of town. My sister helps when she can, but she's going back to work, and I don't know what I'll do then. Please help me find a way to stay employed. This is my first and last child (I'm 42) and no one warned me about this!
Hi, JPS - thanks for the warning about this on my other post. One thing we're doing is lining up a pt sitter who could help out if need be. This is not a perfect solution - she also works for a few other families and might not be available. But having her as a potential resource gives me some peace of mind. (We found her on craigslist, btw)
This is something I stuggled with. When my daughter was very young I was in school and HAD to be at school on certain days. My husband took those shifts. After I graduated and was working, the preschool called up one day to tell me that my daughter had chicken pox. When I told my boss, he said that there were a lot of people who would be happy to take my job and he didn't take off when his pets were sick!!!! I took care of her during the day and when my husband got home, I went back to work at 5 pm to finish up what I was working on. I jumped at the first job offer I got after that and have always made sure that any employer I looked at was "family friendly".
She seemed to get sick alot until she was 6 or 7 and then after that it seemed she was immune to most things. My husband and I would split sick days, I would go in early in the morning and come home at noon - then he would go to work and work late. That seemed to work for us and our employers. By the way, he was in an mostly male environment with an old fashioned boss when she was young.
I'd have an upfront discussion with your boss (at a non-stress time) and explain your priorities.
Thanks -- it helps to know others have been through this and survived! We've tried splitting days, and it worked for my boss (sort of) but his did not like it. Next time we will try alternating days if she's sick for more than one day. I can do most of my work at home but of course this is severely frowned on.
The thing that irritates me is that I had a frank talk about this with my supervisor before I accepted this position. She really wanted me in her department and was all understanding and sweetness. Now that she has me trapped, her tune has changed dramatically.
I'm thinking of going to HR the next time it comes up and having a talk about what the company expects and how I can meet those expectations. So far, they've been a lot more supportive than she has.
Ponymom - wow, I can't believe that there are bosses out there who say things like that. But I know the reality is that there are. I worked in a very male dominated industry before starting Work It, Mom! and I never even told my boss I had to go home because my daughter was sick - I'd make up a meeting and say I had to go meet with a potential company for investment, or something like that. Pathetic, I know.
"My husband works in an all-male environment with a boss who thinks childcare is women's work (although I make much more money). He stays home with her sometimes, but both our bosses have made comments"
Boy does THAT ever sound familiar. I lived that with my ex when my son was born.
My boss (in my ALL MALE department) wasn't too rough on me, but, he did make quite a few unwarranted comments about how if I had a nanny I wouldn't be having those 'sent home from daycare' difficulties.
Personally, it's none of his business. I CHOSE daycare because that's what I felt was right for MY child. Just because he has a nanny (and a spouse who took days off work when the nanny was sick) doesn't mean it was right for my family.
I could have worked from home and the only reason for me not to be able to do it was that 'then everyone else would want to' (sorry, but, I'm the only one who works in front of a computer all day, so we're hardly comparable).
Nataly, I rarely lie, but, in some cases it's justified and just not worth the hassle and the being looked down on...
I have been hugely fortunate in that my former employer had ample sick leave and my husband worked from home, so we could juggle sick days whenever necessary. Now that we both work at home, we have that much more flexibility.
this is an all-too common problem in the workforce though. Women are expected to choose between caring for children and doing a job in a way that men never are and then we are penalized for it. As the "sandwich generation" grows (the adults who look after both children and their aging parents at the same time) , women are going to feel the squeeze most.
Short term - I'd suggest you see if you can find a SAHP in your area who would do last-minute care when you really need it. Usually, someone who has kids in school is willing to do that, for a price.
Long term, I think we need to hand together and change the way parenting is viewed in the workplace.
My husband quit his job while I was in med school because our older daughter was constantly sick and unable to go to daycare. It was the only real solution as every time he had to help out at home his boss became more rigid, eliminating his flex time, planning mandatory out of town meetings with shorter and shorter notice, etc. They basically forced him out, but at school, I had no sick days, and had to take a 12 week leave of absence when I missed too many days and was going to fail one of my rotations because of it.
He has worked from home ever since. I've taken over with the kids now that I've graduated, and we depend so much more on his income than mine. Other than that, we just couldn't find a way to make it work!