Working hard or hardly working

sick children working parents

Anyone who has kids knows anything can happen. What was once a beloved food can change into a plate of doom overnight. Kids are amazing, unpredictable and get sick. Children can get sick a lot which leads every working mother to the same dilemma- what do you do when your little bundle of joy is sick? Should you take time off to look after them, or leave them with someone trusted while you go and earn some money to keep the roof over their heads?

With a cough or cold, it is safe to presume that most mothers would choose work. But sometimes circumstances would dictate that you need to stay at home. For example, when they get a dose of the chicken pox. Now when I say about working mothers it’s because generally, the mums are the primary caregivers. I’m not trying to be sexist with that comment, of course there are plenty of fathers that have taken on the role of primary caregiver. Anyway, we are getting off the point, the primary caregiver is the one who stays home with the sick kiddies and that doesn’t matter if it’s the mummy or the daddy. But I am the mummy, the primary caregiver, and had the full-time job.

Like I said, I am a working mum and the primary caregiver to my two children. So when they get sick I’m the one that has to take time off work to look after them. When I worked nights it was easy. When they were sick I simply tucked them up in bed after a hard day of vomiting, my husband listened out for them throughout the night, and I went to work as normal. But when I switched to working 9-5 during the week, things went (for the lack of a better expression) a bit tits up.

It all started when my kids took the chicken pox over the space of three weeks. My husband was the stay at home daddy at the time (and is great with the kids). He can handle general sickness (including vomit) but this was out of his league, plus he has never had chicken pox. I had to take time off work to look after the pair of them. And if having two sick kiddies wasn’t bad enough, the procedure for taking time off was even worse. Even after phoning in every day for two weeks with same reason, explaining myself repeatedly that my children had chicken pox and that I wasn’t pulling a fast one, I was treated like a criminal for being off.

It all came to a head one day after I had phoned for what seemed like the millionth time to report that I wouldn’t be in again, and some snot nosed brat gives me cheek down the phone. I was made to explain, not only why I wasn’t coming in, why I had no other child care in place (newsflash, no-one will look after children when they have chicken pox), but what she said actually appalled me. She snorted down the phone, and had a tone in her voice of over-inflated self-importance, “What’s the point of you being employed here if you don’t come into work ‘cos your kids are sick?” All I could do was zip my lip and think “what the hell?!” I had to take another two weeks off after that and I flat out refused to phone in. Completely unprofessional of me to act so immaturely, but I stand by my decision to act like a three-year-old. After one week of no phoning, my manager phoned me to see what the problem was, and again I explained: “the pox” was falling on my house. But I didn’t mention my incident with the young “lady” (and I use that term loosely) the week before. At this point, I was actually unsure if I would even go back to my job.

Another week passed and a different manager phoned me. Unfortunately, he caught me at a bad time as my daughter had just picked a pox spot and left a hole in her forehead the size of a 5p coin. This manager turned out to be my manager’s manager, and to be honest, he was completely lovely while I was the rancid bitch monster from Hell. My problem was that he gave me completely conflicting information about being off than everyone else. He told me to get a sick line for the time I was off and I would get paid, yet I was told by someone in human resources that deals with absence, that it didn’t work that way. By the way, this was not the first time I was given conflicting information by the company. When I had started I was told that my bonus would be uncapped only to find out a few weeks later that it was capped and ridiculously small. They were various other incidences like this but you get the general idea. After thinking about it, I decided not to return to work, mainly because the kids needed me at home and my husband got offered a job where he could make a crap load more than me.

As much as that brat annoyed, she did have a point. Why is it in a world full of technology are mothers going out to work? And I mean physically leaving their house and their kids to go sit at a desk somewhere and punch keys at a computer. Surely in this day and age, there has to be some way for mothers to work at home and earn a decent wage? I know there is sales reps and other things like that but for us keyboard monkeys, there’s nothing really stopping us from working at home and doing our jobs in our fluffy slippers. A computer can log your working hours and productivity, it’s not rocket science. I could have punched numbers at home while nursing one of my babies back to health. And seeing as the government is crying out for mothers to return to work, but many can’t because of how expensive childcare is, why is this not an option?

Clearly, the employment section needs a good seeing to. This idea could work for those who are physically disabled and housebound. If I’m brutally honest, I never wanted to work in that place, and it’s not that I have a problem with working or earning money. I quite enjoy receiving my pay cheque, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, I just don’t like leaving my kids, I didn’t have them to leave them with someone else. I know that some people enjoy going to work and getting out of the house, and I can completely respect that decision, but I’m not one of those people. The big question is, is my idea of stay at home working mums too far-fetched or is this something we should be fighting for?

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