By: Mia L. Hazlett
In this series, The Village, I explore the difficulties of being a single parent from the standpoint of those of us with a Village and those without. My BFF recently moved and is in the process of finding that Village, but ultimately does not have one. I’ve been fortunate enough up until a year ago, to have my parents, and now my mother.
Whether you have a Village or not, when your kid gets sick they have to stay home. I refuse to be the parent who sends my sticky sick kid to school. Ok, not true. I have been that parent. I get the call from the school to pick up my kid, but I just had to make that one meeting. Now I don’t do it all the time, but when I hear, “oh my stomach hurts,” I tend not to believe them. Then they throw up at school and I do the pickup thing.
This is not all the time. My kids have been really sick where I’ve had to stay home. Thankfully in the role I’m in now, not only is my boss understanding, but my job provides me the tools to work remotely. The one thing they are unable to be flexible with, my sick time.
In my household, my sick time is utilized by 3 people. If I’m sick, I really push through it and get my ass to work. Most times my boss will send me home, but I still make the effort, because I have a kid with asthma and once a cold kicks in, she can be down for a few days. But again, I have an understanding boss, that comprehends, I can work from home if my kid is sick. Quite progressive, when I think of people who don’t have this luxury because their time is determined by their physical presence.
But the thing is, I do have a Village. There was a time when my daughter missed a week and a half from school. Luckily, my parents were able to assist because with that job, I had no remote access. I also didn’t have a week and a half of sick time. I did ask her father, but he told me he couldn’t take any time off from work.
This has been the number one complaint I have heard from custodial parents. When they call the child’s other parent and that parent has the right to say no. As the custodial parent, you can’t start your day until your child is cared for, especially if they are sick. We do not have the option to say no, even if we ourselves don’t have the accrued time to take off from work.
I then think of my BFF who exists with two kids at home and no Village. What are her choices? Yes, she can work remotely, but there is a misconception when working from home. Less we forget Professor Robert E. Kelly and his work-from-home interview, Working Remotely with Kids.
Working from home with a sick kid, actually requires you to take care of your kid. Or it could also involve a doctor’s appointment and running to the pharmacy for meds. Either way, your office can get in touch with you, but you may not be able to provide undivided attention or hold a video conference without interruption.
I’m not saying companies need to provide special privileges, but they do need to be more forward thinking when it comes to remote options for their employees. Because in a household with children, sick time allocation is usually divided, with the employee only utilizing a slight percentage.