Working Moms & Sick Kids: How to Take Care of Jr. & Still Get Some Work Done

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“Mom, I’m sick.”

While no mom ever wants to hear these three words, they are especially hard for moms who work outside the home. You want to take care of your child and help him or her feel better, but the thought of calling your boss and saying you need to stay home is also a big source of stress. We have some tips to help you get through cold and flu season with both your family’s health and your job intact.

First, know which symptoms require home care

The best place to start is to take your child’s temperature; if it’s 100 degrees or higher, keep her home. Other signs that get your kid a pass to the couch: a deep or persistent cough, complaints of body aches, diarrhea and vomiting. Beware the common clues of a faked illness, such as symptoms that don’t seem to stick — for example, the child who is coughing like she is going to lose a lung one minute but is cheerfully chatting away with her sister the next. Vague symptoms that migrate from one body part to another may also be signs that your child is actually OK. Use the WebMD Symptom Checker if you like, but only if you’re a non-alarmist type of mom.

Next, call your boss

Once you determine that your child needs to stay home, grit your teeth, pick up the phone and call your boss. Calmly explain that Haley or Hudson is ill today and that while you won’t be able to make it into the office, you will be able to get some work done from home. Many managers are amenable to parents working from home from time to time. Children who are ill generally spend some time sleeping during the day, so you can use these hours to work on a project, answer work emails and maybe even attend that big meeting via Skype.

To keep your sick child occupied while you work, keep a few small new goodies on hand like a coloring book, fresh box of crayons or pens, stickers and books. Kids who are feeling pukey often do better when they are lying still, so help your child get cozy on the couch with his or her favorite blankets, pillows and stuffed animals and then put in a favorite movie or order one on-demand through a service like Dish.

Third, take care of your kiddo—and yourself

Even though this isn’t your first sick-child rodeo, it’s still a good idea to brush up on some basic care tips. Encourage your child to rest as much as possible, especially if he or she is battling a tummy bug or fever. Also keep your child hydrated with clear liquids like water, sports drinks and juice.

For kids with sore throats, popsicles can be very soothing. Serve simple foods that are easy to digest like crackers, sliced bananas and rice, and don’t get worried if your child isn’t too hungry for a couple of days. To avoid getting ill yourself, be sure to wash your hands frequently, and keep your hands away from your mouth, eyes and nose. Cuddle with your little one as much as you can, and before you know it, you’ll both be back to your regular routines.

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