Whether you work at home or out in the big world, when your kid is sick, your life stops. Usually the hardest part about having your kid home sick is figuring out how to be in two places at once: at home nursing your child back to health, and at work earning a living. And even if you have the luxury of working from home, a sick kid doesn’t understand (or care) that you’re pulling double duty.

However, the true challenge isn’t necessarily accommodating your child, but rather figuring out how to hold up your end of work-related responsibilities while you take care of a kid who doesn’t feel well. So in honor of cold and flu season being just around the corner, we give you five tips to help you figure out how to take care of a sick child while juggling a career.

1. Share the Load

If you’re married decide ahead of time with one of you stays home if the kids get sick. You could take turns, or even split the day with your spouse, such as one of you stays home in the morning (while the other works), and then switch roles in the afternoon.

2. Plan Ahead

You know at some point your kids are going to get sick (and usually at the most inopportune times). Before your kids even show signs of a sniffle, create a list of prearranged co-workers you know you can count on to cover for you at the office. This means keeping everyone at work clued in to your projects, so no one has to guess what to do with them if you’re not there. Also, volunteer to be the point person for other people, so if they have to stay home you can cover for them.

3. Share Your Sick Days with Your Kids

Inquire if you can use one of your own sick days if or when the time comes that you need to stay home with an ill child. Many companies these days provide paid sick leave for family as opposed to sick leave for employees only. If you have children this is a huge benefit you may want to consider when looking for a job.

4. Know your Sick Day Options

Don’t be afraid to talk to your boss in advance about what happens if you have to take time off to be with a sick child. You don’t want to be blindsided by unexpectedly having to take leave without pay. In most cases employers will at least let you take vacation days to take care of sick family members, but you need to know what happens if you don’t have vacation or personal days to burn.

5. Budget Your Time at Home

If you hope to any get any work done when your kid is home sick it’s a good idea to keep a collection of fun activities on hand that you can whip out right before you need a chunk of time to yourself. Make sure your bin of goodies contains treasures that are new to your child. (For example, puzzles, single-person games, markers, drawing pads, etc.) That way the fresh items will be exciting enough to hold your kid’s interest long enough for you to at least answer emails and make some phone calls.

However, if your child feels too ill to even color, there’s nothing wrong with putting them in front of the TV with a movie or the Nickelodeon channel. Granted, a steady diet of TV is not healthy, but just like giving a child 7-Up for a sore throat, TV sooths a child into resting without being bored. If you’re lucky it will lull them to sleep.

Having a sick child is never fun, but at some point it will happen. However it doesn’t have to feel like an incarceration. With a little planning, you’ll be ready to combat those cold and flu bugs. (And at the same time, if you’re lucky, get a little work done.)

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