It's a constant struggle for moms who work out of the home: What do you do when you're running out of vacation or sick days and your child comes down with something? November has been the month of sickness for my children from fevers to a stomach bug. My husband and I are just about out of days we can use to stay home with the sick child du jour. Now we're holding our breath until the end of the year.
So on a Friday when our oldest daughter told us she wasn't feeling well, we explained that she had to go to school. She had no fever, no belly ache -- no symptoms other than a general blah-like feeling and mild cold symptoms. As I drove her to school that day, she said she wished she could stay home. I told her she needed to get through the day and lick her wounds over the weekend! I would soon regret those words.
That afternoon, our daughter called her dad to say she really needed to come home and rest. Her cold was getting worse.
I felt terrible about what I told her when I dropped her off. I also felt hurt she called dad first… but it’s no wonder. I expected her to be “tough like me” when all I wanted to do was encourage her to be a little more resilient.
So what's a mom to do when there are no more sick days? I’m certain that telling your child to lick his/her wounds is not the right answer! But you can’t take time off every time your child coughs, sneezes or sniffles or you’ll be out of a job.
I’ve decided that giving my supervisor as much notice as possible is one thing I can do to offset the issue. My husband and I have lined up a couple of back-up babysitters. And finally, whatever time I set aside this year for emergencies – I will likely double the amount of days to set aside next year because I have three children.
If I had it to do over again (and I’m guessing I will) I would still send my daughter to school with those symptoms. I followed school, daycare and physician recommendations. Next time around though, I would choose my words more carefully so she knows her mom is always here for her – sick time or no sick time.
Aysu is the mom of three girls and assistant news director for WRAL-TV.