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The Hood Magazine

Work Worries: Managing a Job and a Sick Child

Nov 28, 2015 04:53PM ● By Hood Magazine
By Heather DeWit, Director of Lutheran Social Services and Education Services 


Have you ever noticed that it seems your child becomes ill on the day that you are least able to be absent from work? Is there some sort of connection between germs and important meetings?


Of course, our children are more important to us than our careers but that doesn’t mean that missing work is simple. Most people want to show dedication to their job, as well. The juggling act of parenting becomes even more challenging when the needs of a sick child meet the schedules of two working parents.


Before the fever strikes:

  • Develop a list of backup options for care for your child. Are there grandparents, friends or others that can help in a pinch?
  • Work hard to stay healthy. Be sure bedtimes are consistent and foods are nutritious. Wash hands often and well.
  • Talk with your spouse. Discuss what the expectations will be when a child becomes ill.
  • Save some personal days so that your bank isn’t empty in the event of a sick child.
  • Before the first time your child becomes ill, talk with your supervisor about how they’d like you to handle it. Is working from home an option for part of the day? This shows initiative on your part but also helps you to anticipate your employer’s response so that you can plan accordingly.


 When you have a sick child:

  • When someone needs to stay home, consider these question:
           o   Does one parent have an important meeting or event                 that can’t be rescheduled?
           o   Is it possible to split the day?
           o   Does one parent have a more flexible schedule or                     supervisor?
           o   Who stayed home the last time a child was ill?
           o   Which parent has the most paid time off left?
  • Contact your supervisor with as much notice as possible to explain the situation and apologize for your absence.
  • Dedicate your time and energy to quality time and helping your child get well. Make the most of the day and forget about the things that are outside of your control at work. Enjoy snuggles and help your child be well-rested and hydrated.

When you return to work:

  • Apologize in person to your supervisor and co-workers. While most people understand the need to stay home with a sick child, it is still kind to let them know you wish you could have worked your regular schedule.
  • Offer to take on extra responsibility to make up for missed time and show gratitude for those who pitched in during your absence.
  • Wash hands and stay healthy yourself to keep future absences to a minimum.
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