Thursday, September 10, 2015

Working parents' challenge 1: Dealing with sick kid(s)

I always do my best to be positive but I experienced a total mixed feeling when it comes to dealing a sick child and work. It's probably more stressful than it seems. There are worries about the health of the child, managing a more-than-usual crankier child, parent's (mummy's) guilt, work commitments and superior's expectation.

About a year ago, Emma was hospitalised for her cellulitis & abscess. During then, I took near to a week of leave to take care of her. I felt bad to excuse myself from work as it was quite disruptive. However, I had no doubt of my priorities to take care of Emma. I'm grateful for an understanding boss and supportive colleague who covered my duties when I was away.

Over the last 11 months in my current workplace, I took multiple days off from work on days when school closed, when Emma was sick and my mother was hospitalised along with a couple of days for our Feb Bali trip. I'm really blessed for another accommodating boss who understands the committment of a working parent. Nevertheless, I still feel some pressure and part of it are self imposed.

Those leaves usually worked out fine and I would work from home if I need to. That has its own challenges too as Emma loves to fight for attention with the laptop. She is too young to understand that mummy was working so I tried to do my work when she nap in the afternoon. 

Emma was down with cough since Sunday and her temperature was hovering around 37 for the past few days. On Monday, I felt she was warm, not totally sick yet, and asked my mother over for help. I couldn't bring myself to send her to school but yet I can't take another leave on Monday since I had taken a day off for the school closure on Teachers' Day and other day when she got fever 2 weeks ago. She probably had not fully recovered then and the haze situation isn't helping at all. In addition, hubby is still under job probation so he couldn't take leave. 

Eventually, we kept her at home from Monday to Wednesday with the help of my mother and my mother-in-law. We're thankful for the support from our working mothers, if not, I would have been off work for a week now. 

I had a planned leave on Wednesay morning as I was supposed to accompany her on a school excursion but we missed it and I brought her to the doctor instead. She is likely sick from the haze as she has pretty sensitive respiratory system. She got better on Wednesday afternoon and we sent her to school on Thursday.

Then her full blown fever came on Thursday afternoon, so I took urgent leave and brought her back home. I gave her some medicine for her cough and runny nose then put her to bed and quickly got on the laptop to finish off my work. She slept for 3 long hours and woke up with a low grade fever. By the night she slept, her fever is gone but still coughing and having runny nose. 

I'm glad that it's public holiday tomorrow and we have another 3 days for her to recover before we face another working day. It usually takes a while for her to recover but I pray that she can get well really soon.

I'm sure it's not an uncommon experience for many working parents and many also feel the same pressure, if not more. 

Some child fall sick more often than the others.
Some child fall sick longer like HFMD and need to stay home longer. 
Some parents have more children who take turns to fall sick. 
Some parents have greater worker commitments or positions that do not welcome urgent leaves. 
Some parents have bosses who are unmarried or without children and couldn't understand how needy sick child would be.
Some parents have no one to cover their work duties. 
Some parents have no other help around. 
Some parents have colleagues who were unhappy or unable to cover duties. 

All different child care arrangement has its own set of benefits and challenges. However, when it comes to dealing with sick child, I find many working parents with minimal support being most challenged in this situation.

As I rant on, I want to remind myself that all these will pass when Emma's immunity strengthens and God is in control. Emma will get well soon. One day when I read back this post, I would praise God for watching over us like he always has. 

With the haze psi reaching the unhealthy level, it's going to be a challenge for many children and parents. Please stay indoor as much as possible, switch on air filter if you have one and drink more water!

To many other working parents, you aren't alone! Let's cheer each other on and stay healthy!


  1. Hang in there! It will get better, really. There are too many external issues / gossiping but end of the day, focus on what's important as the rest are just too draining to even think of.

  2. I know exactly what you are talking about. I have been struggling lately with the working mom guilt. My little girl is only 2 and there are times she is not feeling well and I have patients I can't reschedule. My mom watches her, so I know she is taken care of, but I still want to be there.

    Paul Quinn @ Med Care Pediatric