Chicken Pox, Childcare & Flexible Working

I've been expecting it. Waiting and waiting but it never came. Until now... Chicken Pox has hit!



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It started two weeks ago, and my daughter was first in the firing line. First came the fever. Then came the spots. Out came the calamine, job done!

After the best part of a week off school, during which I did my best to work around her, this morning she went merrily back to school, sporting a few red blemishes which she was eager to show off to her friends.

And again… oh dear

So, normality re-instated, I had my week nicely planned out.

Ha, ha, ha. As if! Playing nurse for a week had clearly taken its toll on my memory. I had temporarily forgotten that my soon to be ten year old son had not had the illness yet and, with startling predictability, this morning he came down like a ton of bricks with a fever of 104º, delirium and a raging ulcerated sore throat. Apparently, an older child can experience slightly more severe symptoms, and this seems to be the case for him.

Can you work flexibly?

I've calculated that by the time he goes back to school, hopefully on Friday (but looking at him right now, I'm dubious), a total of eight working days will have been affected. Luckily I can work around such eventualities at the moment, but how do families cope when this is not an option?

If like thousands of others you send your child to a day nursery, your only options are to try and get extra cover via family or close friends (desirable but not always feasible), or take the time off yourself.

This must cause an awful lot of upheaval and anxiety for parents and employers alike. The thought of leaving my children when they are sick and at their most needy is not one I relish. Couple that with guilt at having to let your employer down and you're in for a stressful time.

Are you committed…?

Despite showing more leniencies toward working parents nowadays, employers still need to see commitment, and that means making sure situations such as these are covered.

But even the most carefully calibrated childcare plans are prone to disruption. Having one child off sick for a week is manageable, but if your other one, two or God forbid more go down, then what? What's the solution?

It's unlikely that a drop in centre for childcare of kids with mild illness is going to crop up any time soon, (now there's a thought!), or perhaps another government scheme, so until then, having backup childcare wherever possible is a must, and of course the merits of having a reliable nanny or child minder whom your child feels at home and comfortable with remain unquestionable.

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

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