Being a working parent is a challenge in the best of times. But when your child gets sick, balancing your career and your parenting gets significantly more difficult. It takes practice, patience, and careful planning to handle a child’s sick day without neglecting either your parental responsibilities or work. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to manage working while your child is sick.
Communicate. When your child gets sick, it’s important to contact your boss and colleagues right away. Even better, you should have some sort of backup plan in place for when your child gets sick, like dropping them off with a grandparent or taking turns staying home with your partner. It’s important to stay connected to your boss and continue to work as much as possible. It’s also important to anticipate things like this happening. Since the average child can catch between six and ten colds each year, there’s a very good chance you’ll have to manage working while your child is sick a few times a year.
Stay connected. Technology allows most people to work remotely when necessary, especially with jobs in fields like digital marketing, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to continue working even when you have to stay home with your sick child. But it’s important to remember that if your boss and colleagues have been supportive of you staying home, you shouldn’t abuse the opportunity by checking social media all day. As many people have learned the hard way, telecommuting requires a particular sort of discipline. To stay focused, be sure to respond to any incoming emails or phone calls to help your colleagues in whatever ways you can.
Engage with your organization. If your child has an illness or injury that is going to last longer than a few days, it’s time to alert your organization immediately. HR managers will be unable to move deadlines and work with your schedule unless they know what’s happening. You will need their help in managing a leave of absence if necessary and alerting the insurance company of any needed care coverage.
As frustrating as it can be, remember to not blame your child — they didn’t ask to get sick and they probably already feel bad enough. Instead, think about why you’re working in the first place: to provide a good life for your family. Missing a meeting or having to push a deadline may seem like a big deal at the moment, but overall you need to remember your child comes first.
Finally, give yourself a break! You’re managing your busy life as best as you can.