Working When Your Kids are Sick

When you are in a family with two working parents it is so hard to have a sick child. For those of you who have yet to experience parenthood or daycare let me fill you in. There are stringent state regulations on when your child cannot attend childcare. Then generally your child has to be well for at least 24 hours before going back. So not only are you stuck home with a sick child, but you are stuck home an extra day after your child is well. Then, just to rub a little salt on the wound, a few days later you usually catch whatever your child had. My first child caught every virus that went around during the first two years of his life. Right before his second birthday he contracted salmonella and was quarantined for three months! Those first two years were hell! But children have to go through this at some point to build up their immune systems. If not when they’re babies it will be in kindergarten.

Now my son is almost four and he has the immune system of an elephant. He rarely ever gets sick.My daughter has done fairly well so far. She’s been in daycare for three months and today was only the second time she’s been sick.

As a trainer it is especially hard when you have a sick child. Classes have been scheduled months in advance. Facilities have been reserved. Other people’s lives have been arranged around your class schedule. Canceling a class at the last minute is a last resort.

Here are some options for dealing with family illnesses when you are a working parent:

  • Check in your area for special childcare centers that accept sick children. It’s expensive, but there are times when it’s worth it.
  • Create a support network of family and friends who might be able to help out in a pinch.
  • Find another coworker in your library who has children and arrange a system for emergency swaps. Since our library system is open 7 days a week I have friends who have days off during the week that I could call on for help.
  • Join or create a network with other parents. The Mommies Network has chapters across the US. It’s an online support group for moms. Members from my local group Charlotte Mommies have helped me with everything from fixing a broken toilet to bringing my family meals after Cameron was born.
  • If it’s the height of cold and flu season and your baby is prone to being sick, plan ahead and have a back up trainer lined up.
  • Be a detail-oriented planner. My husband is also a trainer, so when possible we try not to both teach at the same time. That way usually one of us has an easier schedule to clear.

Today I was scheduled to attend training. Since it was online there was no problem. I signed in from home and Cam and I enjoyed the session together. Yet another reason to love online training!

Learning from home

About Lori Reed

Lori Reed, coauthor of Workplace Learning & Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Non-Profit Trainers, is a learning and communication strategist with more than twenty years experience in learning and development. A 2009 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and a 2010 "One to Watch" for paralibrarians, Lori graduated cum laude from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. Lori is a certified Synchronous Learning Expert and a North Carolina Master Trainer and has traveled across North America speaking about libraries and training.

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