Tips for Success as a Working Mom When You’ve Got Sick KidsAug 03, 2022
It’s August as I write this—not cold and flu season, not even close. But, it’s 2022 and nothing seems to shock us anymore: Covid surges in the middle of summer, stomach bugs out of nowhere, and a lot of caution out there with every sneeze we come across. With that said, this year especially has felt like having a sick kid more often than before is playing a major role in a working mom’s life.
For example, this year, I’ve canceled our nanny probably a total of five or six weeks due to my kids being sick. That might seem like a lot, but remember, I have four. When one comes home with a cold, it lasts nearly ten days until everyone has had it. When one got Covid in December, we spent 21 days at home as it ran through everyone in the family. Facts.
Hence, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to manage work life when you’re suddenly hit with a kid who can’t go to school or daycare or receive care from your nanny or babysitter. In fact, it happened to me just this week, so it’s fresh on my mind, hopefully not fresh on yours, but I wouldn’t put it past you.
Here are some tips for success when you’re a working mom juggling sick kids at home:
- Rearrange your meetings whenever possible. Don’t try and be on Zoom calls when you’re also trying to manage a sick kiddo. Even if your body is present, your mind won’t be. You’ll be stressed about your kid interrupting or needing you. You’ll feel guilty for not being with him when he wants his mama most. You won’t be the best version of yourself at the meeting or with your kid if you’re trying to juggle the two at the same time. Just today, I had a prominent podcast interview for my show scheduled for 10:00am. I didn’t think twice about moving the call to later in the day when my husband would be home from work and could take over childcare duties. Nothing is more important than your family. Nothing.
- For the calls that can’t be moved, communicate in advance. I know being self employed means I call the shots, so I want to acknowledge the mamas who may not have the authority or ability to move a work meeting. If one of these calls falls into your lap on a sick kid day and you cannot bail on it, communicate to your meeting attendees that you’ll have your camera off for the call due to simultaneously caring for your sick kid. You’ll be as present as possible and may use the chat more than the unmute button so you’re not interrupting with any background noise. Share what feels right for your company culture, but I always believe honesty is the best policy. If your company can’t cut you some slack on days like this, it might be time to find a new company.
- Let go of regular day rules. It’s a sick day after all. So, if you generally only allow 1 hour of screentime and need to double or (gasp!) triple it today, it’s ok. The parenting police are not coming for you. As long as your kids aren’t watching something totally inappropriate, that screen can save the day (and your sanity) when you’re juggling working mom and nurse mom life.
- Look at your to-do list for the day and choose only the top 2-3 important things to get done. What can wait until tomorrow? What can be delegated? What can just be taken off the list because it’s not that important? I’ve had massive, weekly to-do lists and when days like this hit me, I suddenly realize there are really only a handful of things that absolutely need to be done, so if I’m able to do two of them today while juggling a kid who is home sick from school, I’ve done enough.
- Spend some extra time with your kids. True story, when I was 25 I had surgery. I was a married woman at the time, but who did I want to walk with me to the OR? My mom. There is NO ONE like your mom when you aren’t feeling well. Be that mom. Be the one your kids need and want when they’re sick. Snuggle with them. Hug them. Read to them. Stroke their hair. Do nothing but watch Paw Patrol for an hour lying on the couch with them. It’s important, just as important as getting that work done (that you know you can and will do because you’re awesome and always deliver). It’s going to be ok.
That’s it, mama. Those are my tips when you’re a working mom juggling the unexpected days of having your kid (or kids) home with you and unwell. Even though these days can really throw your schedule off track, they can also make you realize what’s truly important and become better at navigating life’s twists and turns. Whether it’s cold and flu season, teething season, peer pressure season, not making the team season, or whatever challenging season you and your kiddos are faced with, you can and you will get through it—working it always as the amazing mom and career woman you are.
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