It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Dilemma — resolved!


Those are all the times I saw displayed on my beside table clock last night. I may have missed a few…

At 4, I was awake, but I refused on principle to leave my warm bed before 5:00. (Which is my normal wake-time in the winter.)

I am tired.

I am also not well. I’m a bit warm, I’m congested, I have a sore throat. (No, it’s not H1N1, and even if it were, all the tots have been innoculated.)

And I’m working.

This is my dilemma, always has been. I do get sick/discretionary days in my contract, one a month, which is excellent for a self-employed person. I don’t use them all, but they’re there, should I need them.

So why am I not using one today?

It comes down to tolerances. Not knowing I was about to come down with something, I took a discretionary day only last week. (Did you know you can squeeze four appointments at four different venues into one day? And get to them all by bus? It’s possible. Not easy, but possible.) Not only did I take a discretionary day on one day, but on a different day I headed out early to yet ANOTHER appointment, leaving Emma in charge for the last 45 minutes or so. Even though the second appointment didn’t inconvenience the parents at all, I still changed the usual routines twice in one week. I feel like I’ve taken as much time as I reasonably can this month.

To compound matters, I have TWO more appointments next month.

That’s a lot, in a short span of time. It just feels like pushing it, you know? They’re all necessary, of course. Mary is not taking time off for multiple facials and pedicures, a mid-day rendevous with an illicit lover, nor even Christmas shopping.

But with all this sudden flurry of appointments and days or half-days off… Whenever I take a day off, I’m acutely aware that I am inconveniencing five families. I am not a martyr. I do take days when I must, but being sick right now? It’s such bad timing!

I don’t want to take yet another day. And hey, when I was a SAHM, I never got sick days. “Mummy’s just puking, sweetie. I’ll feel better in a minute.” I’m perfectly capable of caring for children while I’m under the weather.

Except these aren’t my kids, and whereas I’m generally sure I caught whatever I’m suffering from the tots, this one seems to originate with me. So I could be passing it on to them. That stops me in my tracks.

It’s a quandrary, and I juggle competing interests. Inconvenience the parents? Infect the children? It’s a damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t choice. I hate it.


as I sit here writing…

I’ve seen my way to the solution! (Writing is like that, don’t you find? As you write, the ideas come, your thoughts organize themselves. Positively therapeutic.)

Here’s my insight of brilliance: I should let the parents know that I’ll be open for business, but also let them know I’m not entirely well. They can decide whether or not to expose their children to me.

Gah. Why didn’t I think of this years ago?

I’ll call them all this evening, and give them the choice. Brilliant!

I’m betting they all come tomorrow…

which is good, right? Because then I can stop feeling guilty for polluting their wee bodies with my noxiousness.

Though a day off would be even better.

December 15, 2009 - Posted by | health and safety, parents | , , ,


  1. Get well soon! (And parents with a calendar will see that if their kids incubate this virus for a week to ten days, they’ll be sick at Christmas. Hopefully they’ll keep ’em home!

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | December 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. Brilliant solution. And I’d keep my kids home and be very happy for the heads up.

    Comment by Sarah | December 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. Oh, I hope you’re feeling better soon! And yeah, then they can make the choice to expose or not… and you’ve got less guilt (and maybe less kids that day, too!)

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | December 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. Great solution. Get well soon – short and long term!

    Comment by Maisy | December 15, 2009 | Reply

  5. Urgh. My own kids are hard enough to look after when I’m sick. I think I’d draw the line at someone else’s.

    Comment by Mwa | December 16, 2009 | Reply

  6. I think that sounds like a good solution! But, I’ve got a question. Whenever you do have days off and parents work what do they do? Do they have backup care (a relative or center?) or do they just take the day off as well?

    I honestly don’t know. Occasionally a child will tell me the next day about being with grampa or with mummy, but as a rule it’s not something I’m told. My days off are clearly listed in the contract they sign at the outset. It’s quite likely there have been people who have not signed on with me because of my time off. The clients who do sign on with me obviously feel they can manage it, so it’s never been an issue.

    Comment by Cassie | December 17, 2009 | Reply

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