Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rock, meet Hard Place

This is hardly an original observation, but where the rubber REALLY hits the road for us as a two-working-parent household is when one of more of the kids gets sick, and this coincides with a hectic period at both our workplaces.

It hasn't only been an issue over the past 4 months, as I've been working fulltime; before that, as a freelancer, it's true I worked at home a lot, but when I did have client site obligations, they tended to be high-impact and immovable, and had an uncanny facility for coinciding with illness in the house. Moreover, sick kids aren't the easiest to work around - it's not like you can just plough on and achieve as much as you would have, if they had been well and off to school or kinder. It's entirely reasonable that sick kids need more TLC and of course giving it to them has to be the top priority.

So predictable has the "high stress, high commitment week at work = someone getting sick" nexus become that I am now unsurprised (albeit dismayed) when it happens. And naturally, given the events of Friday, it's happening now  :-(

This week, I have a Mon-Weds schedule that is very crowded, overloaded with work and tricky issues, and high-stakes in that some of the meetings I have to attend are key decision-making ones that will affect how 2014 plays out for me. My 8 year old girl, who has been full of snot for the past few days but soldiering on, started a barking cough yesterday, and has awoken this morning hoarse, with a painful throat and a low-grade fever. Given her propensity to tonsillitis, I will need to get her to the doctor quickly, and my realistic best-case scenario for her would be back to school on Wednesday (and that's if we're lucky and it isn't tonsillitis). The 10 year old and 4 year old are likewise coughing, although not as pulled down, and the potential for them to follow her into more advanced illness is high.

The really impossible thing here is that this is a high-pressure time for my husband at his work too. He doesn't work Wednesdays, granted, so that day is taken care of, but it would be immensely difficult for him to take carer's leave Monday or Tuesday either. And yet, if I am not in the office those days, it will have consequences beyond the days themselves and will make my own life harder for the coming months.

I'm going to jerrybuild a solution, because what else can I do? My first meeting on Monday is scheduled for 10am and it's with only one other person who is  peer-level to me and not particularly difficult to get in to see, so I'm going to bump that out to later in the week and ask my Mum, who does Monday kinder pick-up at 12:45, to get to my house early (by10:30). If she can, this will allow me to be at work in time for my 11am and all the following meetings. I'm also going to need to put off my next root canal treatment, scheduled for Thursday, because given the time I'll be losing in other ways, I just can't risk it knocking me out for a day like the last one did.

I also had not one but TWO volunteer committee meetings scheduled for tomorrow night - I  was going to go directly from one to the other - but I'll need to give apologies for them both.

I also need to get a jump on the week, to make it possible for myself. Mercifully, the only things planned for today are baking and doing a craft project with the kids, so I should be able to squeeze in 3-4 hours of work. If I can just get the most urgent Monday delivery items knocked off, it will give me the flex I need to make tomorrow work.

Tuesday, I don't know what to do, I really honestly don't. I may have to press my partner to take carer's leave on the day, which I don't like to do - I know the pressures he is under too, and I feel, however wrong this may be, primarily responsible. But I am getting real here - if I am not at work on Tuesday, things will be much harder for me for the rest of this year.

It's a perennial problem, and I have no good answers. If anyone else does, I'd be thrilled to hear them!

This is post 24 in NaBloPoMo. 24 down, 6 to go!

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