Juggling work and sick kids

7 steps for new parents with little ones in the childcare sick cycle

New parents know the dreaded sick cycle that young kids get into once they start care. Just as you’re getting back to work, your little one is going into childcare – the breeding ground for germs and infections. It’s a catch-22 situation that seasoned parents will tell you is necessary for ‘immunity building’.

That all sounds well and good when you’re looking back in hindsight but when you’re in the thick of it, surviving off four hours sleep a day with deadlines piling up, it sounds like a whole lot of nonsense.

Unfortunately, it’s the truth and it’s a part of life. There’s no skipping it. Your bub needs to be exposed to different germs and infections so that by the time they enter school their immunity is established.

So, what can you do about it? Here’s 7 practical steps that will help you deal with juggling work and sick kids. Just remember, this phase doesn’t last forever! You’ll make it through. Prepare for this stage of parenthood by discussing it with your workplace. If your manager is aware that your child is starting child care they will be better prepared for your absence and you may even be able to suggest job-sharing for this period.

The first few days of a sickness, your little one will need your undivided attention but perhaps, once they are over the worst of it, you will be able to complete some work from home. Ask your manager if there is a viable option for you.

Talk to your partner about your action plan for when the little ones get sick and you’re both at work. To avoid disagreements and conflict, it’s best to share responsibility. Take turns looking after sick kids and be flexible. For example, if one of you has a big meeting but can easily move things around and reschedule, then they are one who should put their hand up for ‘nurse duty’.

Think about how you introduce your kids to child care. Doing a few days consecutively might be the best for your child or perhaps, spreading them out over the week is better for your bub’s health. Try out different routines and understand they may change, according to flu season.

If you can afford it, research cleaning/household services and keep the phone numbers on ‘speed dial’ for when you need extra help. This is especially helpful for single parents trying to juggle work commitments and a sick bub.

Once your little one comes home sick from child care, chances are you’ll catch whatever they’ve got. Often, infections/viruses can spread from family member to family member – until everyone has it. Try your best to avoid this and ensure the whole family ups their vitamin intake and keeps hydrated.

And finally, if you need to take carer’s leave and/or sick leave, take it. It’s easy to succumb to guilt and pressure – we’ve all been there – but at the end of the day, you and your family’s health is your highest priority. Your co-workers are more understanding than you think.