The working parents’ guide to dealing with sick kids

Get child care that works
Not all jobs are family-friendly. If you’re a teacher, doctor or pilot, flex hours are out. And if you’re a lawyer, try telling a judge you missed court because your kid had the flu.

When your career isn’t flexible, your child care has to be. That’s why Bliss Prema chose a home-based caregiver who’s “totally OK with runny noses or a cough.” The Victoria mom practises Indian massage out of her home, and needs quiet during appointments, so having her two-year-old home sick is not an option. Of course, she doesn’t hesitate to cancel on clients when her daughter needs her.

When both parents work and balance demanding schedules, a sick child can throw the marriage into meltdown mode. Carmen, a Toronto mother of two (who asked that we not use her last name), knows this first-hand. “Our child had a fever of 104º F, was hallucinating and throwing up, and there we were arguing about who could spare two hours to take our sick child to the doctor’s,” she admits. The solution: They hired a live-in nanny, and the fighting stopped.

Sick of the sick day cycle, Patti and Terry Fitzgerald, parents of four from Peterborough, Ont., decided to do something radical: Terry quit his job as a shift manager to stay home when the kids were young. “Yes, we could have called family, but the hard thing is you want to be at home with your sick child,” says Patti. “When they’re really sick, no one else will do.”

A lot of parents get frantic when their child is sick, but the right perspective can make all the difference. Instead of seeing it as an inconvenience, look at it as an opportunity to re-bond and reboot. A day of storytime, chicken soup and snuggling could be just what the doctor ordered—for both of you.

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