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The Returners' A-Z: Balancing Work and an Ill Child.

Being a working parent comes with its own set of challenges, and when your child falls ill, it can feel like a juggling act to manage your responsibilities at work while also providing the care and attention to your sick little one. Whether it is for a few days or a few months, it is crucial to balance your professional obligations and your child’s well-being. This blog aims to guide you through some practical strategies and tips on how to deal with an ill child while fulfilling your work commitments.

1. Communication is Key:

When your child is sick, communicate openly with your employer about the situation. Inform them about the need for flexibility in your work schedule or any potential adjustments that can be made. Many employers understand the challenges of parenthood and may accommodate your situation.

teddy bear with mask on, and digital thermometer under arm

Don’t forget to reach out to your support network. Share the responsibility with your partner, family members, or close friends. Seek their help in providing care for your child, especially during working hours. Getting help from a trusted support network can ease some of the stress and enable you to focus on your work without worrying excessively.

2. Seek Flexible Work Arrangements:

Explore remote work options, if your job allows for it, and consider discussing the possibility of remote work with your employer during your child’s illness. Working from home can provide you with the flexibility to be present for your child’s needs while fulfilling your work obligations. Ensure you have the technology and a dedicated workspace to maintain productivity.


You might also want to consider Flexible Hours or Time Shift. Talk to your employer about adjusting your work hours temporarily. Request for flexible start and end times or compressed workweeks if possible. This flexibility can enable you to spend quality time with your child when they need you the most, without compromising your work performance. Remember, you can always take time off if you need to (and if your employer has a problem with you putting family first, think about finding a new employer!)


3. Prioritise Self-Care:

It’s essential to prioritise self-care during this challenging time. Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of your physical and emotional well-being to be better equipped to care for your ill child and manage your work responsibilities effectively. Here are some self-care strategies:


child in pyjamas playing with computer mouse

I. Seek emotional support: Share your concerns and fears with friends, family, or support groups. Venting out and seeking advice from others who have been in similar situations can provide you with much-needed comfort and guidance.

II. Establish boundaries: Set clear boundaries between your work and personal life. Create designated time slots for work, rest, and quality time with your child. Prioritise your tasks and delegate when possible to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

III. Delegate responsibilities: If feasible, delegate some non-essential tasks to your colleagues or employees. Communicate your needs and collaborate with your team to distribute the workload, allowing you to focus on critical tasks while caring for your child.

IV: Take breaks: Allow yourself breaks throughout the day to recharge and rejuvenate. Use these moments to get some fresh air, exercise, meditate, or engage in activities that help reduce stress. Time these breaks when your child is resting or asleep.

V: Seek professional help if needed: If you’re finding it overwhelming to manage both work and caring for your ill child, consider consulting a therapist or counsellor. They can provide guidance and help you develop effective coping mechanisms to navigate this challenging period. Your child’s school or local council may be able to help.

As a working parent, dealing with an ill child can be stressful and demanding. However, with effective communication, careful planning, and support from your employer and loved ones, you can balance your professional responsibilities and the needs of your child. Remember to prioritise self-care and seek support when necessary. By employing these strategies, you can provide your child with the love and care they need while maintaining your professional growth and stability.


If you are struggling with looking after an ill child and working at the same time, need help finding a more understanding employer or more flexible job, or just need to talk, then get in touch. We are here to help.



adult and child hands on computer keyboard

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