Managing Illness as a Working Parent

Managing Illness as a Working Parent

Many of us know full well the juggling that goes into being a working parent. It can feel like a whirlwind, even without obstacles or complications. Work may be going well, and you love your role as a parent, but it still feels like you’re constantly trying to keep two plates spinning.

What if one of those plates drops? Specifically in the form of your child becoming ill. Well, whilst this blog won’t stop your child from getting sick, it may help you realise that the feelings you experience are normal.

Choosing to Be a Working Parent

At the end of maternity leave, families decide whether one parent will remain at home to tend to the childcare or both parents will return to work in some capacity.

Where both parents work, extra strain can often be placed on a family as they navigate through those times when your child/children get sick. That’s when the question of who will take time off arises.

Sharing the Load

Several studies have noted that if children are sick and unable to access childcare or go to school, it is often working mums who take time off to care for them.

Naturally, this places a lot of pressure on working mums and their employment. Whilst there has to be a consideration for pay and benefits for dependency sickness, there also needs to be some thought given to the impact on the parent taking time off. Especially if it is the same parent having to take time off. Sharing this responsibility from the beginning will help both parents in the long term.

Being Open and Honest With Your Employer

A good relationship with your employer is essential- especially when you have young children who may need you during sick periods. Any reasonable employer will understand that, on occasion, you may have alternative childcare options other than taking time off for your child.

What Does the Law Say?

As an employee, you’re allowed time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. Children are dependent and, therefore, can be supported through this type of leave.

You’re allowed a reasonable amount of time off to deal with the emergency, but there’s no set amount of time as it depends entirely on the situation.

You cannot have time off if you know about a situation beforehand. For example, you would not be entitled to emergency time off if you wanted to take your child to a pre-arranged hospital appointment.

How Does Tommies Childcare Support Working Parents?

In 2019, Tommies Childcare made key changes to our Medication Policy to better support working parents. Many of us here at Tommies Childcare are working parents, so we understand the challenges well. For instance, parents cannot take time off whenever their children are teething or have a cold.

For these reasons, we allow parents to provide unprescribed/over-the-counter medications that will be administered at a Nursery Manager’s discretion. However, we remind parents that children should only attend nursery if they are well enough.

Our definition of a ‘well child’ is that:

  • A child should not be reliant on temperature relief medication (e.g. Calpol);
  • A child should not run a temperature;
  • A child should be well enough to participate in all areas of nursery activities;
  • A child should have a normal appetite and is happy and sociable;
  • A child who does not require a higher staff/child ratio; or
  • A child who has normal bowel functions.

Parents are welcome to have a copy of our Medication Policy and need only ask the nursery team to see it.

Let Go of the Guilt

Our last advice would be to let go of the guilt that our parents often feel when we take time off. If you are a good employee, your employer should understand your need to be there when your child is poorly and you have no other options.

Even when you make it to work, it is understandable if you are worried about your child if they are in someone else’s care. A supportive employer would understand and support you, knowing this is a short-term issue.

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