It’s 1:30am. From another room you hear “DAAAAD!”
Your precious kid’s fever is 101 degrees and her throat is sore. You quickly begin to wonder how you’re going to make the meeting tomorrow morning because she’s not going to school. It’s not that you don’t care about your kiddo – but some primal instinct takes over because we feel a great deal of responsibility to our work.
This has happened to millions of other single parents, but when it happens to you, it feels a little more intimidating and stressful.
I don’t have my former spouse or family in town, so what do I do?
First, you need to tend to your kid’s illness. That may mean an ER visit or a call to the triage nurse/doctor on-call at your pediatrician’s office. I was not born with that mother’s instinct for what to do and fortunately have a great guide from my pediatrician about how to deal with most illnesses and what actions to take based on the symptoms.
Afterward comes dealing with your kid during the day when you need to be at work.
Here are four strategies to handle this:
- Determine if you really need to be at work or your meeting. Your colleagues and clients may know you’re raising your kids alone and chances are they’ll do what they can to accommodate your unexpected absence. If you had a fever, they’d ask you to stay away and either participate by phone/Skype/FaceTime or just rest and get better. If you have to care for a dependent, they would probably suggest the same. While it may disrupt the work day, both your and your kid will remember that one-on-one time when you stayed home to care for her (and maybe play a board game or read a story together).
- Go to your team for help. You may have individuals in your team willing to watch a kid who may be contagious. If so, ask them for help – it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s giving someone a chance to help. Check out my post on building a team if you haven’t already .
- Find day caregivers who cater to sick kids. We have at least one business in metro Phoenix who will watch and care for a sick kid while you go to work. For example, Arizona ProHealth provides that service, and you may want to call your pediatrician or local hospital to see if they know of any other centers providing that kind of care. You may want to do this today so you are not scrambling to find it.
- Communicate clearly and develop a plan with your boss before your kid gets sick. Communication is key. Set aside some time to talk with your boss and/or your clients to let them know you may need some additional flexibility in the unfortunate instance of a sick kid. This may result in you working with them to develop strategies in case this happens and shows leadership and planning on your part.
Your kid is going to get sick. Will you be ready when it happens?
What other strategies do you have for last-minute emergencies with your kid on a work day?