Sickness – BAH! Parents, back to work!

I am sick.  Bronchitis with an asthma chaser.  Great.  Worse still, my youngest was home sick yesterday (ear ache from flu that gave me bronchitis ) and my middle girl is home today (probably same thing we’ve all had).  In reflection of the last week 2 weeks, I’m sure we all should have had more time off.

If I had accepted I was sick a week and a half a go and stopped then…but of course, there were deadlines to meet and a business/family/house to run.  I wasn’t sick enough to stop working and the rest of life never stops.

The same as most parents, particularly, dare I say it, mums, we keep going when we feel ill.  The household must keep rolling, so we suck it up and keep moving…until we are forced to stop.  Like now (except I am writing a blog post for the website while child 2 is on lounge next to me, home from school).

Now, we have all been instructed buy current government policy that we are required back at work.  ASAP.  Tax dollars needed.  For the nation.  Back to work after that baby, don’t retire until 70.  This drive for dollars has many far reaching implications, some seen and many unseen.

One of the areas that could have grave implications is time off.  Sick days and parental leave.  When families get sick, often they all get sick (exhibit A…my family right now).  If I worked in a work place, I would have possibly given my entire workplace the flu by staying at work for 10 days while sick, because I would HAVE to be there, because no one can do my job like me!  Yes, I admit, I have been guilty of this in the past.

Worse still, I may have sent my children to care or school when they were less than well…and as educators, we all have children who turn up sick.  As much as we request over and over “please keep your children home when unwell”, parents are required at work.

Take a day off you say…well, many people work in positions that make it hard to take a day off (teachers and educators, doctors, nurses, law enforcement all come immediately to mind) or they are casual workers (no work, no pay).

What if you have 3 children who get sick in succession, then yourself?  This could mean 10 days/2 weeks off work.  All sick days used or no pay for that time.  Most families can not afford this, and they do need to still pay for childcare places even when children are absent, along with everything else.

Many workplaces still look down at time off, some casuals could lose a job for taking extended time off.  It is understandable, businesses need staff to operate, however, a sick workplace is even less productive than an understaffed one.

I can see that sick children coming to care will become more of an issue over the coming years.  If all parents are at work and so are the grandparents (our family’s childcare backup plan)…where do the sick children go?

Are the increasingly bad flu seasons (apparently worse every year) in some way the result of people’s inability to stay home when they or their children are sick?  Are we all out there, sending our children to care and making society ill?

I am one of the lucky people that work from home.  I don’t give a workplace my flu and I can keep working when a child is at home.  But I am in the minority.

I believe sick people and children need to be at home.  A dose of cold and flu medication to keep us all going does not stop the spread of cold and flu, or, at times, help us get better.  It makes us feel just ok enough to “soldier on”, when we really need to stop.

A bigger picture needs to be considered when we think about work, childcare and productivity.  Unfortunately for the economy, we are human.  Sickness happens and if we could feel a little less guilty about staying home, letting our children (or ourselves) rest, recuperate and eat a little chicken soup, it may be a better choice for the national interest.

My daughter and I are going for a rest now, chicken soup is in the crockpot.

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