One of the worst dilemmas for me as a working Mum is when one of the girls is ill. By ill I don’t just mean a cold but something bad enough to keep them from school for a day or more. Between the financial necessity to work and the political pressure for parents to be in work, many parents struggle to manage when children are sick and this is particularly difficult if you do not have family nearby to help, your partner works away or you are a single parent. Even if you are not the emotional wrench and stress of leaving your kids when they are ill is a nightmare. So, what do working parents do when a child is ill?
The previous government ‘helpfully’ introduced time off for dependents but what it really means is you have to take unpaid leave to care for your sick kids and even then only for the amount of time that your employer considers reasonable. Have these people ever had the stress of a 10 month old with chicken pox who the nursery will not accept, clearly not, what actually are you supposed to do with them, even if you have the type of employer who will allow you two weeks off to care for the child how do you manage losing two weeks pay because you need to care for a poorly child.
If you have plenty of cash and have a nanny to delegate parental responsibility to perhaps the stress is not so bad but for those of us without that privilege then what is a working parent supposed to do? Many people use Grandparents but what if you can’t, others I know simply don’t tell their employer it is the child off sick and claim they themselves are ill usually meaning they are entitled to at least some pay, what would you do?
Increasingly through benefit cuts and changes in the economy parents are being forced to work longer hours and give less time and attention to their children, placing them in childcare for longer hours and from a younger age. On the flip side governments need to address the gaps like the times when children are sick so they do not become a crisis for parents and they need to show some heart away from the economics that when a small child is poorly in the real world only Mum or Dad will do.