Confessions: Working Mom and Sick Kids

We had a summer virus make it’s way through our house last week, and it inspired my confession this week. Sick kids create stress and guilt both at home and work. Other moms and I talk about this and try to find ways to survive the sweeping sicknesses in our house. Here are some tips to help weather the storm of sickness:

Work Out a System with Your Spouse   – Mr. Southern and I do our best to take turns.  We established this on a date night (a night when we were both rested and relaxed to have an open dialogue without accusations of who was doing more).  We came up with the understanding that sometimes we have things at work we can’t miss regardless of whose turn it is.  In this case, it was actually my turn to take the first day – but I was in a meeting and couldn’t leave to pick up Little Southern, so he covered and I worked from home the next day.

Develop a Support System – Sometimes you have to ask for help.  We have a wonderful neighbor that if I am really in a pinch will come watch the baby while I do a conference call or run to the store.  We also have other working-parent friends whose children go to school with ours and are willing to pick up and drop off when we need the help.  Finally, our back-up plan is our very kind family who will make the trip in a pinch to help us out.

Communicate with Work – Mr. Southern and I are always up front with our leadership at work that we both have management jobs and that we have to pitch in when something like this happens. I find that setting this expectation makes it easier when it happens. However, if you tell them you are going to be working from home, give them tangible results. For instance, I always try to return to work with some tangible product or task completed, like actively participating in a conference call.

See if you can Bring Them With You – I have a private office, and it is okay if I bring the oldest one with me for a few hours to make a meeting.  I give him a tablet with a movie and headphones or I bring crayons and coloring books, and snacks.  This is great for those 24 hours windows where they are almost fever free but can not go back to school until the time has expired. This is also super for those times when they are actually better after a good night’s rest or if they have been sick most of the week and you hate to ruin it by taking them back on a Friday.

Work When You are Under the Weather – This is the one area as a manager that I appreciate.  If I am going to miss work for my kids, I am going to avoid calling out for myself.  Essentially, if I can get up and get dressed and won’t infect my team, I am going in to the office. I may not make it all day, but I make the effort.  I assure you leadership appreciates the fact that I minimize my time out as much as possible.

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