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Why working mums need more sick days

March 7, 2012

*DISCLAIMER* Before the Child Free (capital letters intended, believe me, this is different from being childless or even childfree!) get all over me, this is not intended to be serious. I do not actually advocate that mothers get any extra paid sick leave, apart from carers’ leave which is available for anyone to use, not just parents. I also acknowledge the hilarity of the “white whine”/first world issue in complaining even jokingly about having a cleaner. - If you ever feel bad about starting a new work week, just remember how terrible your personal life is too

Yesterday I took a sick day. It was a difficult decision to make as I have a pretty full plate at work at the moment, bearing in mind I only work 20 hours a week, and work alone so there is generally no-one to whom to delegate or handball tasks.

If you have no children, or your children are grown adults now, this is how a sick day might go for you:
– sleep as long as you can
– knock yourself out with as many painkilling or symptom-repressing drugs you can legally get your hands on, because you (a) don’t have to drive anywhere, (b) are not trying to perform work tasks or operate machinery and (c) are not responsible for anyone else
– depending on the severity of your illness – let’s say, as an example, you’ve got a reasonably bad cold, obviously enough to keep you home for the day – maybe get up just after lunch, try to prepare yourself something light to eat.
– again, depending on your illness, maybe shower and curl up on the couch in some fresh pyjamas or comfy daggy trackies
– go to bed early

Assuming, as above, your illness wasn’t too major, you can wake the next day for work feeling mightily improved.

Maybe the mother in the next cubicle or office to you has the same virus and also took the day off. When you both get back to work the next day (because for most people, taking two days off in a row is difficult, it’s also often the point where you need to get a doctor’s certificate), and she is dragging her arse, looking awful, and really not getting her share of the work done, you think, “what on earth is wrong with this woman? What a sook! She had yesterday off too!!”


Let me tell you how my sick day yesterday went. - I promise to be a better mother than Casey Anthony.

I spent most of Monday in bed (it was a public holiday) so I had a pretty fair idea I’d still feel rotten on Tuesday morning.

– wake up at 6.30am because that’s when my weekday alarm goes off if I’m not training that morning. Realise, yes, I do still feel rotten (partly because the 3 year old spent the night in bed with me) and will be taking the day off, so reset alarm for 7am.
– get up at 7am, feel absolutely rotten, sloooowly make the kids school lunches and get their swimming gear ready, plus phone my manager (who is two hours ahead of me) to let her know I’m sick.
– around 7.30am, get the kids up. Now, my kids aren’t morning people so it takes me a while to realise that they are extra-grumpy this morning. “I don’t feeeeel weeeeellll,” come the plaintive cries. OK, scratch school. Just get Miss 3 – who is fine – breakfasted and ready to go next door to her granny’s. Because Granny (my mum) is awesome and doesn’t mind taking Miss 3 even when I am right next door.
– put on something resembling outdoor clothes to take Miss 3 next door because Partner has been on the phone forever.
– about 9am the fortnightly cleaner comes because I didn’t know how to get in touch with him directly to cancel (we hired him through an agency). Cue two and a half hours of sitting up on the couch trying to look respectable, including about 45 minutes of vacuuming, which is NOT nice on a sore head.
– about 10am Mr 6 threw up for the first time. He then proceeded to throw up every time we tried to give him fluid, even icypoles.
– I spend most of the day sitting up next to him looking after him. Thankfully Miss 9, the other sickie, isn’t so bad, slept most of the morning. Except then she needs lunch made because she’s feeling better.
– about 2pm I realise Mr 6 hasn’t kept any fluid down today, nor has he done a wee, so I phone HealthDirect, speak to a rather rude woman who insists I take him to the Emergency Room RIGHT THEN. I try to explain that not only am I unwell but I don’t drive, have another unwell child with me, and need to wait until my partner comes home. She is so rude to me that I feel like I am probably flagged with some ‘negligent parent’ note on my record now *sigh*
– so Partner gets home from work about 3pm, after I phone him, my mum comes over with Miss 3 to watch Miss 9 as well, and off we go to the ER.
– THANKFULLY not a long wait, his vitals are all good and he doesn’t look severely dehydrated, so we agree to just rehydrate with Gastrolyte and observe over about 45-60 minutes, because they wanted a wee sample.
– get picked up from the hospital at about 20 past 5.
– go home, eat dinner (takeaway *sigh*)
– Now Mr 6 is of course in fine form and hyped up so runs around like mad all evening while I just want to pass out in a corner
– get them all to bed. Finally.
– school sick notes and the like ready for tomorrow.
– Go to bed.

And THIS is why I felt like I needed another sick day to recover from my sick day.

(Of course, when I was a stay-at-home mum there were no sick days. At least I can now go to work to recover from the children.)

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