Sick note – working when your child is sick

It was inevitable that my son would be ill since starting with a childminder. Aside from a short bout of Hand, Foot and Mouth (he was fine, I was covered!) we’ve got off pretty lightly in terms of sickness considering toddlers are walking viruses.

Roll on this snotty, feverish, nasty coughing virus that’s going around and its left the babe with a temp of 41c at one point and being off from childcare until his fever had gone and he was feeling better.

Of course, my natural instinct is to want to bundle him up and snug him until he was better on the sofa but being back at work means it’s not that easy.

When my husband called and said K wasn’t well my immediate thought was worry, closely followed by ‘what an earth am I going to do about work?!’

Your child will always comes first, that goes without saying, but my mum guilt is up there and I was immediately thinking how many days recently is finished early, got in a little bit late or asked for annual leave.

None of these things should have an impact on whether you need to stay at home with your poorly child but for me it seems to affect the impression I give.

Being the last to arrive and the first to leave (one most days) I already feel like the ‘part-timer’ label is slapped to my forehead and calling in sick feels like a call-off contract. Did I use up my favours, did I need a bigger gap between the last ‘incident’ that meant I was having to deal with a childcare issue?

I try so hard not to separate myselves from my colleagues or feel like I’m any different just because I’m a working Mum but there’s certain differences that are hard to ignore.

Its like having 2 Managers; one at home and one at work and when I’m being stretched between the 2 and needing to be in two places at once it’s hard to feel like your position at work is ‘safe’ when the little boss is always your priority.

I have to mention that it’s not all on my shoulders. My husband is brilliant and will always step up to work from home or do the pick up if I’m working a late night but I have to balance it with the fact that he commutes into the city whereas I’m just round the corner.

A lot of this comes down to how I see the situation and how I think people are judging me at work. I’ve said before that I take my job very seriously and worked hard to get where I am and because of that it makes me question how I work as hard in less time and balance all the unexpected situations that come up.

I suppose it comes down to the good old saying that ‘it takes a village’ and it really does. It includes understanding, patient Managers and colleagues who understand (or remember) what’s it’s like to balance work and family life and keep all the balls in the air.

We’re in cold and flu season so I’m sure this won’t be the last bug of this winter but I hope that I can feel more at peace with my decisions and that I’m just doing the best I can and thank CBeebies for all the great work they do for us on sick days!

 

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Working Mum made of glass

I’ve been back from maternity leave for nearly 6 months now, working part time, 3 days a week on a job share with an amazing Mum who likes food and a giggle as much as I do. I totally lucked out there! (probably should stop telling people I ‘just’ had a baby though..ha!)

If I was to describe what I was like at work prior to having a baby I’d say I was confident, straight talking, a chatterbox and very ambitious. I worked hard to get to my position and was always looking for the next opportunity to sink my teeth into. I loved my job and even when we started fertility treatment it was always nice to get back to some normality in the office and crack on with my head down.

Since coming back after a year off I’m not just a new woman in terms of being a Mum but I feel so much more sensitive to things that previously I probably wouldn’t have even noticed or would have been water off a ducks back for me. Where as before I’d happily challenge, debate, even argue my point where I thought it needed saying I’m so much more aware of how I come across to others.

If I’m busy I second guess whether it’s coming across as not handling things, if I challenge I wonder if it’s unjustified because I only work 3 days a week and when I would normally speak my mind without hesitation (mostly when i was sure I was right) I now hold back because I remember how lucky I am to have been able to keep my job by working flexibly.

I feel so much more vulnerable, like people can see straight through me now, when im tired or stressed, I’m feel like I’m more open to people’s potential criticism and more under pressure to keep on top of things. Especially on a Thursday when I wave goodbye to my colleagues at 4pm wishing them a good weekend when they all have another day and an hour to go.

It’s not all coffee breaks, nice lunches and lazy mornings working part time, especially when my work days are long and I come straight back home to start the evening routine with the babe. Again, I’m not complaining but I feel so much more on show now, like my performance is being more closely monitored and that there’s no room and especially no time for mistakes.

I wish I had some more of my old sass, my unwavering confidence (fake it till you make it was my go to style) and where I’ve got buckets more confidence as a Mum I feel I’ve lost some of it at work and I hate it.

A lot of these worries are constructed myseld, I know that, but I think your priorities change as well as your options and that means most days you get the job done and nothing more. And that should be enough. But I don’t think it is for me and I want to feel like I’m moving forward when I’m at work and whether it’s training, volunteering for some new projects or just pitching a new idea I need to get my vibe back and accept that that will take some time.