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How working parents can deal with sick days

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This is my first article after I spent three days at home, recovering from a common cold. Something that usually doesn’t affect my work or daily routine has knocked me down this time, between the fever, night sweats, and cough, I had to ask for time off to recover.

I’m very fortunate because my wife has a very flexible work schedule. She managed to find the time to drive our nine years old son to school, and at the same time, coordinate with our babysitter for the care of our 13 months old daughter.

I often wonder what single parents would do to deal with a similar situation; when one of the parents or a child gets sick, and they need to call in sick for something as minor as a cold or passing fever.

We live in beautiful San Diego, CA, where unfortunately the cost of living is too high, taking time off work is not as simple as it may seem; it may very well put a ding in our family economy. For us, that’s the biggest concern, so we have learned that we have to manage better and account for sick days in the future.

Here is a list of ideas for parents to manage sick days with little impact on their personal and financial life:

  • Save for a rainy day. Most people I know depend on a full month of work to be able to afford to pay their rent and bills. Staying at home seems almost like an impossible situation, particularly if your work doesn’t pay for illness-related absences. Try to plan ahead, put aside at least $20 every month to compensate for the time when you have to miss work because your children get sick. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it will help you alleviate small financial problems.
  • Search online for how many sick days are allowed by your state law; you may not be using all. Many people go to work even being sick because they don’t have any idea of how many days they are allowed to take due to illness. Here is a good resource from the California State website,
  • Explain the situation to your supervisor at work. Call your immediate boss or supervisor right away, apologize for the inconvenience this may cause to your workplace or coworkers, and explain the reasons why you believe it will be better if you stay home and recover. Don’t lie or exaggerate by sending your boss pictures of you being sick or come to show them in person, just be sincere, and explain the situation.
  • Keep a safety kit at home that includes common cold medicine like Ibuprofen, Tylenol, menthol drops. This is something that my wife always does, and I feel so grateful for it. When the kids or myself get sick, the least I need is to get up and drive to the pharmacy.
  • Attend local events and become friends with other parents who have kids the same age as yours. We met Maria, our current babysitter, on a day at a local kids event organized by Jump 4 Adan, a children party rental company in San Diego. Maria has three youngsters of her own; she is a stay-at-home mom, and we worked it out so that she could take care of our kids on an as-needed basis.

I’m sure there are many more things that other parents do, I’d love to hear about your experiences with handling sick days, particularly if you are singles parents or don’t have other family around to lend a hand.

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