How Working Parents Can Cope With Sick Kids In Today’s Economy

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The pressures of working parents in today’s economy are mounting. Parents are worried about being able to provide for their kids in the event of a job loss. And most workers also feel, justified or not, that it’s just a matter of time before they get that pink slip. With so much pressure at work to outperform co-workers and avoid a pink slip, your stomach sinks to the floor when you get that call from the daycare or school that your child is sick…. again!

It may seem like your child is constantly getting sick, and maybe even more so now than before. The unfortunate truth is that you may be right about this. It’s not uncommon for parents who are stressed about losing their jobs to load a sick child up on medicine and take the child (and their germs) to daycare or school. More and more working parents are feeling the pull between caring for a sick child and being able to put food on the table. Many feel that their child may be OK at daycare if they have medicine beforehand, and this is especially true with a seemingly less serious illness such as strep throat. The unfortunate result is that more germs are being spread around the classroom, making your child even more prone to picking up an illness! While you can’t prevent other parents from doing this, there are some steps you can take to maximize your days at the office.

Find A Back-Up Plan. Consider other people you can call to care for your child in the event they get sick, and by all means offer them some cash for helping out. Everyone is trying to find more money to save or to help cover bills, so the offer of cash may just land you some help. Think about neighbors or friends that stay at home. Consider those that don’t have young children at home, as those people likely don’t want sick kids at home getting their little ones sick. Or think about nearby relatives, such as an aunt or grandparent. If someone is a college student or works irregular hours, such as with a retail or restaurant job, you may be able to get that person to watch your child even for a portion of the day.

Do The Switcheroo. If you are lucky enough to have two working parents in the house these days, consider the possibility of switching out sick days with your spouse. Or, if neither of you can afford to miss a full day of work, you could switch child-duty around mid-day so you both can work at least part of the day.

Take Precautions. Enough cannot be said for sanitary measures, such as washing hands and covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Teach your children how to wash their hands properly, getting between the fingers and on both sides of the hands using warm water and a lot of friction. Many kids merely rinse their hands with cold water, and this does little to remove germs. Explain to your kids the importance of washing before meals, after using the restroom, and even when they have come into contact with another child who is sneezing or coughing.

Have your child wash his hands before they leave school in the afternoon or when they get home from school to keep any germs they may have picked up during the day out of your house. Be aware of the germs you come into contact with during the day as well, as you can pick up germs and spread them throughout your house. Be sure you are also washing your hands and are weary of sick co-workers. As an extra precaution, keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse or car, and use it after going to the store, before meals at restaurants, and throughout the day.

The germs are still around on the weekends, so be sure your hand-washing and sanitizing are in full effect on the weekends, after sports activities, errands, and play dates.

Donate Supplies. Schools, whether public or private, never seem to have enough funds to purchase needed supplies. Sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, and even sanitizing spray can go a long way towards keeping your child’s classroom germ free. Talk to your child’s teacher about any supplies they may need to help keep the kids healthy. Most likely, the teacher would love any donations to the classroom. If funds are limited, talk to some other parents from the class about pooling resources and buying these items in bulk together. Or start a sign-up sheet to ask other parents to donate some of these items. Many other parents may be in the same boat you are and would welcome your initiative.

There unfortunately is no fool-proof way to keep the germs at bay, especially during cold and flu season. But taking precautions can go a long way towards keeping your child healthier and keeping you at work during the day!

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