They creep into your room at an ungodly hour and declare, “I don’t feel good.”
Their words jolt you wide awake – and you know within minutes that there’s just no way your kid is going to school or daycare today.
And then the anxiety sets in.
On the one hand, you’re worried about your child and want to stay home to take care of them. On the other, you’re realizing the array of challenges calling off work will present. Will your supervisor be upset? Who will cover for you? What about that big meeting you were supposed to help out with?
While there is no silver bullet for balancing the demands of work and an ill child, handling the situation professionally is important – whether you’re working on assignment or in a direct position, entry-level or professional. Today, we’re sharing tips to help you take care of your child and your career:
Know and follow the rules.
Check your employee handbook, so you know what the call-off policy is. Follow established procedures, using the recommended communication channel(s). Unless you speak directly to your manager, ask for an acknowledgement from them, so you know they received your message.
If you’re working as a PrideStaff field associate, contact your recruiter immediately. They will communicate with your assignment supervisor on your behalf.
Get in touch as soon as you know you’ll be out. Before you contact your boss, however, think through your day and what you have scheduled. When you get in touch, let them know:
- that you need to stay home with your child (although it’s not necessary to get into the specifics of your child’s illness unless your supervisor asks);
- how long you anticipate being out (i.e., the morning, the whole day, or longer);
- how you will cover your day’s responsibilities;
- information/resources you need to complete work from home (if that’s an option for you);
- meetings, tasks or deadlines that will be impacted by your absence.
Your boss will appreciate the fact that you’re involved in creating a solution (and not just laying a problem at their feet).
The way you handle adversity says a lot about your character, so be polite and professional in your communications. If you’re exhausted and/or stressed that’s perfectly understandable, but being calm and positive will make a more favorable impression on your supervisor.
Keep in touch – but not on social media.
If you’re staying home from work to care for your child, stay in contact with your colleagues and supervisor throughout the day. Be as responsive as you can on email. Call to check in when you can. Don’t, however, spend your day posting and commenting on social media; doing so may lead your boss to question your “real” reason for calling off.
Moving forward, be as prepared as possible.
As vigilant as you may be about preventing illness, your child will likely get sick again (the National Institutes of Health estimate that small children routinely get 8 to 10 colds and viruses per year). So create a plan for how you’ll handle the situation if it happens again.
If you share parenting responsibilities with someone else, discuss contingency plans for days when your child falls unexpectedly ill. Can one of you plan to stay home? Is there a family member or friend who could help care for your child? Having pre-established options will make those tough decisions easier in the heat of the moment.
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