Children are Walking Petrie Dishes

by Samantha on June 3, 2011

Children are walking petrie dishes. But you knew that already, right?

Image courtesy of www.busymommymedia.com

You dress your kids in the morning and steel yourself for the day, hoping against hope that you won’t get that dreaded phone call at work that says “Come and pick up [your child’s name goes here]. He/she’s running a fever.” Invariably the call comes, despite your wishes, and you sheepishly and guiltily tell your boss that you have to leave early to pick up your kid (not sure where the sheepishness and guilt are warranted but the feelings are there, nonetheless).

The irony of ironies is that there is often an undertone to the daycare call. Perhaps it’s all in my head (I can be over-sensitive sometimes), but you may get the feeling of being chastised by the child-care provider – as if you are at fault for your child being ill. 

I always thought that it was ironic that the sources of my kids’ illnesses were – wait for it – the daycares! Yet when the viruses or various bacteria that were floating around on the collective toys, books and items at the daycare do their thing, well guess what? You’re out of luck and destined to take the day (or two, or three) off work to tend to your little ones.

Image courtesy of www.proteanservices.com

It’s a constant struggle –  balancing home and work commitments in order to put food on the table, and never more is this evident when you are faced with the choice between a sick child and spreadsheet. You are forced to make a choice at the peril of the other. If you choose the sick child, your job could be in jeopardy; if you choose the spreadsheet, you may look like a trooper at work but to little Johnny, your name is mud. Oh, and the daycare/babysitter/nanny who is looking after your feverish child is likely not thrilled with you either.

If you have a partner, you may try to alternate every time the kids are sick. Yes, this works in theory but the reality is not quite so simple. Not sure about you but my kids cling to me when they are not feeling well and, as their mom I want to be there. Therein lies the dilemma. I recently wrote about the fact that moms overwhelmingly take on the role of caregiver when their children are sick. You can link to the post here.

I know that with myself, I feel sick about my kids getting sick. But not just for the obvious reasons, but also for the repercussions to my professional life. Because the child-free surely look more favorable to an employer when the latest bout of influenza sweeps through the daycare.

So what about you? How do you deal with the sick child/work dilemma?

Do you stay home with your kids when they’re sick, or does your partner, babysitter or relative generally take over?

Do you feel that taking time off to care for your sick child(ren) has negatively affected your career?

I look forward to your feedback!

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