Cast your mind back to when you had no children, or before you made the decision to work from home.
Remember when you fell ill? Surviving sickness was easy. You were entitled to sick pay, and you could call in sick, stumble back to bed and have a lovely time (let’s be honest) wallowing. PJs, bed, medicine, comforting food, daytime TV, perhaps a concerned partner to do all the running – the perfect way to get better.
How things change.
This year has seen one of the worst epidemics of flu on the east coast. Both my husband and I got it, but had vastly different ways of having to deal with it. As he still works out of home, he got the luxury of calling in sick and actually resting to get better (whilst still getting paid). Unfortunately the life or a work at home mum running a business doesn’t actually give us sick days, so we just generally have to power through.
Now at the first sign of a sniffle, I go through stages. First, denial – “I am NOT getting ill, I have no TIME for it, I have stuff to do!”
Next, anger – “well, this is just typical. The busiest week at work for months, kids swimming, dancing, school, AND a playdate organised. TYPICAL.”
Then, resignation, as I stoically race around after the family, keep up with work (no sick pay! No colleagues to pick up m slack for a while!) with a tissue shoved up each nostril and pray for the day it all ends and I wake up in the full bloom of health.
I do have a husband, and I am grateful for his help, but he can’t do my job for me and of course he works out of the home, at a nice germ-free office, so there is only so much he can do. It’s muggins here who does daycare drop off (on the luxurious 2 days that they have that), works like a fiend, plays taxi to various activities, gets home, cooks, urges them to eat their vegetables… and then Husband comes in and takes over and I lurch off to bed clutching a Lemsip, exhausted.`
Surely, I tell myself, there must be a better way! Surely, when I congratulated myself for Having It All, working for myself, around the kids, at home, I must have thought of a contingency plan for this?
Turns out I didn’t. When you begin working from home, you think of all the great things it will give you. Freedom to work when you want to, be able to spend time with the kids, enabling you to take them to all the great activities, or even the odd coffee with other mummy’s. You don’t really think about the what ifs that tend to just get covered when you can take a sick day or annual leave from a “real job”. And once you add daycare or school germs, it can wreak havoc on an already tiring life.
So now I have a plan. For when I am sick and child is sick. The husband? Well he gets Man Flu so obviously he needs complete uninterrupted bed-rest, poor lamb. (Insert sarcasm emoticon here.)
When I am sick: They can watch DVDs, ABC Kids or Netflix all day. If it means you can quote Moana verbatim after a week: fine (and I now can). Plain pasta for dinner? Sure, go ahead. House a mess? Meh. Now is the time to learn the art of self-sorting conflict. Obviously work needs to be done, but where the pace can be slowed, slow it down.
When kids are sick: make the most of the sleepy cuddles in between washing bedding and wiping snotty noses.
It’s not magic, it’s not easy: it’s survival. Take time out to rest, and if you need help, ask for it from friends, family and most importantly your partner.
How do you handle getting sick if you have children, work for yourself, or both?