It always happens at the worst possible time: you need to care for a sick child and still make a deadline at work. How can you possibly do both at the same time? There are several options out there that allow you to take care of your kid and still get your job done. Most importantly, don't panic. Stop a moment, breathe, and look over these choices:
Have a Backup Sitter
It helps to always have an emergency babysitter you can call on for just this situation. Obviously, not everyone is willing or able to take care of a sick child, but a trusted family member or friend might be willing to help in a pinch. If you don't know of anyone personally, you might want to check with your pediatrician or local hospital for recommendations of sick-care daycare centers. These specialty day care centers have trained staff who take care of your child and administer medications. They charge a flat hourly rate and usually provide snacks and meals. They are a great alternative if you don't have friends or relatives close by.
Prioritize and Delegate
Look at your project deadline, and determine what must be done first, second, third, and so on. Then find help, either from an assistant or another co-worker, in doing those tasks that don't require your direct attention. Work on your first priority tasks as you can throughout the day, either while your child is napping or watching TV on the couch.
If your husband cannot come home during the day to help, make sure he can take the second shift when he comes home. Take advantage of the "24-hour workday" that many WAHMs can access, and get the job done when your husband is home for the evening.
Check Your Deadline
If you have a boss or a client you report to, make them aware of the situation. Explain that you are doing everything you can to do the job under these circumstances. Chances are, if your boss or client has a kid, they have been in this situation themselves. Hopefully, the shared experience will make them more sympathetic to your position. If so, they may offer to extend the deadline--even for just 24 hours--so you have a little flexibility in getting the job done.
Take the Day Off
If your deadline isn't set in stone, simply take the day off and take care of your child. You will be able to focus better when you aren't checking temperatures and running to the pediatrician. In fact, you may get the job done faster if you just wait until your child is on the mend.
The most important thing to remember is that family always comes first, above any job or deadline. By all means, find reasonable ways to accommodate your deadlines if at all possible. When your child is sick, what she needs most is tender loving care from her parents. Try to offer that comfort first, then find ways to meet your deadline without too much sacrifice.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.