Playing Fair: Should it Always Be the Mum’s Responsibility to Take Time Off When Their Child Is Sick?
As a working mum, one of the most difficult things is juggling being a Mum and doing well in your career.
I love my job and have found the transition of returning to work full time easier than most. I’ve taken each day in my stride and found a balance that works for me and for my family. I have found a wonderful childminder and I am lucky that I have a supportive line manager. The people who I work with are fabulous and we have had a great five months together working hard to become the number one branch in our area.
But, just when you think you have this working mum thing nailed, something comes along and bites you in the bottom.
Last weekend, Dexter had a temperature and it meant he and my husband stayed home while I traipsed to Manchester for a blogging conference. To say I was happy about it is a slight understatement. A bed all to myself and no chance of being woken in the night by a toddler who needs me? I was living the actual dream! It was the first night I’d spent alone in a bed for a good few years. Of course, I felt guilty that I’d left my poor hot baby behind, but he had his daddy to take care of him and I knew my husband would ring me if I was needed in any way.
On Monday, although his temperature was largely back to normal, he still seemed a bit whiny and had been up numerous times in the night resulting in very little sleep for us all. I made the decision to take the day off work so we could both recuperate. I have been suffering with a cold and cough for three weeks and have been powering through. I think my colleagues were quite pleased to have a day without me standing behind them spluttering down their ears.
Monday night came and went and Dex slept a lot better. I had a commitment to meet my manager and decided to go into work on Tuesday whilst Dex went to the childminder. All was well. Wednesdays are my days off and Dexter and I spent the day at home while the car was in the garage. It was nice to spend some time relaxing and although Dex was quite whiny and slept a lot, I didn’t think much of it.
On Thursday I went to work as usual, dropping Dex off on my way. I was having a great time catching up with one of my colleagues about her recent trip away when I got a message from the childminder to tell me Dex had done five runny poos within the space of an hour. Five.
I asked if I should collect him and she said she’d see how he got on after he woke from his nap. He woke up to a poonami so she was back on the phone saying he needed to go. Now what?
Luckily, work are great and I had enough staff in to cover, so I hopped in the car and went to collect him. I rang my husband. He didn’t pick up. I rang again, nothing. I text him saying I’d come by his workplace and collect him as he was finishing at 4pm and received a stern reply. ‘Why? Am in a meeting!‘
Secretly fuming, I drove home. After getting back, putting on CBeebies, emptying the washing machine, putting the dry clothes away, loading the dishwasher, sweeping up the remains of last night’s dinner off the floor and finally collapsing on the couch, he rang me back. I asked what we should do about the following day considering Dexter can’t go to the childminders for 48 hours after having diarrhoea and I was informed in no uncertain terms that I would have to take another day off.
Now correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t we all, Mums AND Dads covered by a law that states we can all take time off work if required to care for any dependants we may have? Why does it fall to me as the mother? Or is it simply that my career is not as important as his?
So what next for me? Well, another day off work it and lots of hopes and prayers that Dex has no more diarrhoea before Monday. Typically, after arriving home there was not one release of gas, let alone any poo, and he seemed as right as rain. He ate me out of house and home, devouring two bowls of pasta, three crackers and two rice cakes and promptly headed to his bedroom, collecting his bunny and dummy and pointed to his cot.
I’ll guess I’ll just have to suck it up that as the Mum, it’s my responsibility to stay off work when something goes wrong. As if it isn’t hard enough having to do all the running around picking Dex up and dropping him off because I am the only one who drives, I now have to be the one to compromise my career.
Perhaps my husband is right, after all he does earn more money than me. Probably as a new mother in my thirties, senior management don’t see much opportunity for me to progress now within the business anyway as chances are I’ll be pregnant again in the next few years. This doesn’t stop me feeling more than a little disappointed though. I want to be happy that I have an extra day off with my little man, but the truth of the matter is, I enjoy being at work and I can’t help but feel guilty that I am letting them down. Maybe I care too much? Maybe I’m overthinking things. I just can’t help but think that if mine and my husband’s careers were reversed, I’d still be the one taking a day off today.
How do you work it when your child is sick and somebody has to take a day off work? Do you take it in turns or do you as the Mum always have to do it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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