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How do 2 working parents handle a sick child who suddenly can't go to daycare/school?

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12 years 7 months ago #49324 by romd
I'm not quite there yet... still staying at home with my 16-month-old son, but I was wondering, if I ever go back to work --

For parents who both work, especially 2-MD families, what do you do if you're both scheduled to work, but suddenly your child has a fever and can't go to daycare or school? Or if your nanny calls in sick and there's no one to care for your kids?

My husband is a specialist who has patients waiting up to 3 weeks to see him. And it would be extremely difficult for him to have to reschedule a whole day (or more) of his procedures at the last minute, which would lead to weeks of treatment delays for those patients. Also, people in general are just not as understanding of men who take time off for their kids.

As for me, when I go back to work, I'd probaby do some type of locums, such as covering for a solo practitioner while he's on vacation. If I've committed to show up for work, and that person may have already left town, how can I cancel at the last minute?! If I don't show, a whole office full of sick cancer patients wouldn't get their treatments... And as you know, kids often are sick for more than just 1 day.

I wish we had family close by who would be able to take care of the child at the last minute, but we don't. Eventually, I'd like to go back to work a little bit, just to keep up my skills. I thought that my son would be old enough for nursery school by then, but I need to figure out what to do when something unexpected comes up at the last minute. I've heard of those emergency child care providers, but I'm leary to leaving my child, especially if he's sick, in the hands of strangers!

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12 years 7 months ago #49325 by residentmom
You got to have a back up plan. Friends, college students, etc. People you wouldn't necessarily use full time but are good in a pinch. I sometimes can take the afternoon only off, in which case I use the afternoon shift girl from my daycare (since she's free in the morning and has already had a background check!). Whole days are harder-- I usually end up with 2 college girls taking turns. not ideal, but better than missing work. It's a tough thing. At least with a daycare, you know one person being sick won't ruin your day-- unlike a nanny or in-home daycare.

ResidentMom<br /><br />"If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." --Jackie O.

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12 years 7 months ago #49326 by pulpo
I agree. Regardless of whether you stay at home or work, you need to have a back up plan. My husband and I are both surgeons and we have twin 16 month old boys. Mon-Fri 7am-6pm, we have a nanny who's been with them since they were 8 weeks old. We consider ourselves very lucky in that she loves them dearly and is extremely reliable and trustworthy, etc. She has never once called in sick in the time that she's been with us. We also have a second part-time nanny/housekeeper who works 9-6pm 4 days/week and 1-8pm on additional day. Our nannies get the federal holidays off and 2 weeks around christmas. We make it work by making sure that we take turns taking time off if the nannies aren't available. For example, this Friday, I'm taking the morning off to be with the kids and will see pts in the afternoon, while my husband operates in the morning and will be with the kids in the afternoon. We also don't have any nearby family, but we have become very good friends with our neighbors (several of whom are stay-at-home moms with toddlers) so I think that in a true pinch, we could ask for help from them. Our friends/neighbors also have part-time nanny help that we could potentially ask to help us if needed. We're both fortunate in that we live within walking distance of work and are able to get home quickly if the nanny calls and says that the kids are sick. The other thing is that we make our kids the number one priority. If my husband or myself is not on-call and he gets called after hours/weekend to see a consult or operate emergently and the other person is not home/available, we say "no." It's not always popular, but it's life. We're both in quasi-academic practice. It's probably harder in private practice. One thing you might want to try is to use baby sitters now- get out without your child for a bit and spend time with your husband/friends. It gives you some needed downtime and also gets your child used to being with a sitter. Perhaps try different sitters so that you'd have a list of potential "emergency" sitters for when you go back to work. The biggest potential problem when you both work is when one parent goes out of town. In this situation, I had my very helpful mom come stay with us when my husband had to go out of town for a meeting and I had to work/was on call. Good luck. it's never easy but it's doable. :)

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12 years 7 months ago #49327 by twinmom
Backup is really important. I've gotten really screwed by it. (See my other post.) We're not actively looking, because my husband's schedule is going to be a little more flexible than mine this fall, and he can schedule inflexible things around me a bit. (I guess that's the silver lining of being married to a grad student.)

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12 years 7 months ago #49328 by lemarkus
Hi - we are a 2 MD family as well (both specialists) with 2 kids age 3 and 6 who transplanted ourselves to the Northwest from Texas 5 years ago, leaving all the grandparents, aunts and uncles behind. I work 2 days, he does 4, with only 1 day that we are both at work. Of course, that is the one day when one of the kids gets sick, there is a snow day etc. We have used a variety of back up plans including good friends, neighborhood high-schoolers who have baby sat the kids before (they are off too when it snows) and an emergency Nanny service. It is quite expensive - I pay $175/year just for access (which is 24/7 however), $30 for each time I request a nanny and then $14-$16/ hour for the actual nanny's time- but they have usually come through for me. The point is you have to have multiple back up plans because you need that flexibility when you are in a pinch. You might look into a local nanny service to see if they provide emergency services and talk with your close friends to see if they are willing and able to help at the last minute.

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12 years 7 months ago #49329 by lemarkus
One other thing about back up plans - your office can be a tremendous resource. In mine we have several MA's who have baby sat for me and as their schedules are more flexible than mine, they have at times shifted schedules with one covering the other who can then watch my sick child with very short notice. Also, I have PA in my practice who can fill in for me if I am late trying to put together child care arrangements. I am extremely lucky to have such great people to work with but finding a practice with some built in flexibility and people you can trust like family is something to look for.

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