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Working mums: who looks after your child when they are too ill for nursery/childminder?

37 replies

Meid · 04/03/2003 16:31

Every time my dd has a runny tummy, bad cold or conjunctivitis her nursery understandably won't take her. I have no one to fall back on and am unfortunately using up all my holiday entitlement looking after her on her sick days. My DH does his bit but he is a contractor and doesn't get paid if he doesn't work so I am the better option.
I have to admit I've also done sickies when she's been ill and struggled into work when I'm poorly so my sick record isn't too bad.
I know I am entitled to unpaid leave if necessary but don't think the entitlement is intended for the odd day here or there - more for longer chunks off work.
I was wondering, are there any other mumsnetters in the same situation? Who do you fall back on? Can you offer any advice?
None of the other mums I work with seem to need days off here and there which makes me look worse to my employers.
I am really worried as I don't have much holiday left for this year, what am I going to do if she gets a long illness?
[Obviously, if my dd is really poorly and needs her mum I wouldn't want her to be with anyone else but usually with something like a runny tummy she's as lively as ever - it is just messy nappies!]

OP posts:

NQWWW · 04/03/2003 16:37

This in my view is one of the big advantages of using a childminder / nannyshare over a nursery. I have used both for my ds and both have accepted him when ill. Don't know whether its worth considering the upheaval of changing your childcare?


Bozza · 04/03/2003 16:41

I think this is one of the trickiest situations for working mums Meid. I have a slightly easier position than you Meid because my DH is a rep who works from home and so can often be fairly flexible. Also because I only work 3 days I have managed to make the odd day up by working on a non-work day but arranging child care for this is a nightmare. So I too have used holidays and find this particularly for DS's appts. Like 1/2 day booked for ENT appt in April.

When I first went back to work DS was ill quite a lot but I'd already had months of maternity leave and had lots of accrued hols so it was alright. Last year was a bit more of a struggle but this winter he seems to have been a lot healthier so its looking easier. But I dread the idea of chicken pox or something like that.

I only took 1 day sick last year despite having had 5 cold/sinusitis type illnesses between October and now - and I think it is partly me trying to build up a reputation for reliability should the worst happen. I remember when DS was a baby and kept getting diarohea every weekend but perfectly happy and me trying to bung him up by Tuesday so that he could go to nursery.


Bozza · 04/03/2003 16:41

NQWWW - I see your point but what if the chldminder is ill or on holiday?


bettys · 04/03/2003 16:49

When my ds had a childminder I ended up having to take MORE time off work due to the childminder's own illnesses, or her children's. The nursery has been much easier and more reliable. I think I'm quite lucky in that my company doesn't complain when I take time off due to ds's illnesses - I don't take it as holiday. However it's happened less often since he's been at nursery and has gradually built up his immune system.
However like everyone else I try not to take time off when I'm ill. I don't think there is an easy answer to this one, but I do think children gradually become more resistant to tummy bugs.


Alibubbles · 04/03/2003 16:52

In 16 years of childminding I have not had a single day off, or needed to for my children! Infact my son has never been off school sick in 10 years and had not been to the doctors since he was 4, now 15! ( Only for broken bones!!)


Meid · 04/03/2003 16:55

DD used to go to a childminder and while everyone was happy with the arrangement the reality was, like bettys, that I used up more of my holiday.
Hopefully dd will be building up her immune system and illness will become less frequent.

OP posts:

Bozza · 04/03/2003 17:09

That has certainly worked with my DS Meid - he's just turned 2 and really healthy and resilient. Its me that gets one cold after another. But thats easier to deal with.

Also Alibubbles what happens to your minded children when you go on holiday? And also when your son was born?


Meid · 04/03/2003 17:12

Thank you all for your responses.
My dd is 20 months so hopefully she's reaching an age when catching everything going will slow down.

OP posts:

Batters · 04/03/2003 19:52

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lindy · 04/03/2003 20:28

Meid - are you sure that none of your friends would help out? I am a SAHM & I always offer to help my working friends out, we have an agreement that if it is genuinely not convenient I will say no with no hard feelings; I regularly help one friend out, & she often helps me out when she is not working so 'it works both ways' - I know it isn't always easy to ask people to do a favour, but in my opinion, most people genuinely like to help other people - if they are asked.

(sorry if you have tried this & it hasn't worked out for you!) - I'll keep my mouth shut.


Claireandrich · 04/03/2003 20:37

I have had the odd day off with DD, some taken as 'sickies' for me as i didn't want school to think I was using DD as an excuse (daft I know)! DH has also had a morning off but struggles if it is at the last minute (as illness usually is). Failing that my MIL/FIL don't work so they are normally available too.


Alibubbles · 04/03/2003 20:39

Sorry Bozza, I meant not a day off sick in 16 years.

I started to look after a child when DD was 6 months old until 6 weeks before DS was born. The child's mother gave up work when I finished to have her own second child. I then started to look after another baby when DS was 6 months old and had the new baby for 2.5 years. ( My own two are also only a year apart) I then had a new baby girl to look after, of 4 months old, 12 months later her brother arrived. They stayed 4 years. The last family I had the boy from 8 weeks and sister from birth, they left to live abroad after 8 years with me.

My families have always taken holiday at the same time as me, never been a problem. Now I work for three families term time only as they are all teachers at DD's independent school ( long hols) so it works out very well for everyone.

Have a a new baby starting in September, that has had a place reserved (at cost to the parents) since she was born.

I don't have a problem filling place, I turn several away every week and have a waiting list.


JulieF · 04/03/2003 23:08


There are two types of unpaid leave that you are entitles to. Parental leave is designed for you to give notice in advance, and your employer can defer when you take it, in blocks of a week or more.

However there is also emergency dependants leave which is designed for instances such as your child being too ill to go to a childminder. However this leave is meant so you can spend a day or 2 making alternative arrangments, you wouldn't be able to use it to nurse her through a long illness for example.

Sorry I can't offer you any further advice, I moved to be closer to my family so my mum helps out when dd is ill.


Janeway · 04/03/2003 23:40

This is very difficult - ds is 12 months and at nursery 2 1/2 days - dp and I have no one else to leave him with and so have to use up holiday and/or make up time in evenings/weekends/"off" days, but it's so very important that the children are not sent to nursery when infectious .

Gripe of the week is.... there's been a bout of D&V going round ds's nursery and one boy was brought in very ill despite specific requests to keep poorley kids at home until they've been clear for 48 hours (it turned out the child had shown symptoms all through the weekend but was dropped off without any warning to the staff)- consequently most the other kids (and some of the staff) have had it and therefore their parents have had to take time off aswell. The boy was sent home again but his Dad complained about looking after him - he was at home that day also with D&V because he didn't want to risk spreading it at the office!


NQWWW · 05/03/2003 09:49

Bozza - see what you mean about the childminder/nanny being sick, but this has not happened yet to us, so it didn't even occur to me!

As for holidays, at least we have plenty of warning of this. We try to take our holidays at the same time (and we get more holidays then she does so this isn't too onerous). And when we didn't take time off when she went away for a week, I found a nursery round the corner from where I work who were happy to have my ds for the week.


Meid · 05/03/2003 10:27

Thank you everyone for your advice. It is a comfort to know I am not the only one with these difficulties.
I have used up my right to parental leave by adding it on to my maternity leave but I could speak to my employer about emergency dependents leave, just to see how flexible they would be willing to be with that.
I think I will also approach my SAHM friends to see if any of these would be willing to help at short notice, I had thought of this but made the assumption they wouldn't want to risk their children catching anything from my dd. Perhaps the thought of being paid would sway them. I can only ask.
Unfortunately I do have to find a solution. We are hoping to book a holiday for October and if we do this then I will only have 4 days holiday between now and the end of the year!
Thank you once again,

OP posts:

Bozza · 05/03/2003 12:52

Sorry Alibubbles I didn't mean it as an interrogation I just wondered as I will probably be looking for a childminder once DS goes to school and it does concern me. I must say that you sound like an exceptional childminder but also lucky in having such a healthy family. A local childminder's daughter had impetigo and all her charges couldn't go until it cleared up nad that sort of thing worries me. Also can't afford to go on holiday in high season which a childminder might choose to do.

Meid is definitely right - there is a lot to think about.


gosh2 · 05/03/2003 15:46

Lindy I couldn't ask any of my SAHM friends, because most if not all, of them disapprove of me working anyhow. I feel also there would be a bit of whispering going on about how I couldnt juggle the kids and the job.

Or maybe I am just being paranoid, and should ask one of them sometime. They are friends afterall. I just don't like the idea of imposing on someone else. I like to be self sufficient, and DH certainly gives me the opportunity to prove myself! (ie no help from him when they are ill).

I couldn't ask friends, have thought about asking a neighbours au pair and paying her? But if she charges £6 per hour to babysit would she be happy with £20 for a day? prob not........


Lindy · 05/03/2003 18:27

Gosh2 - I'm sorry that your friends 'disapprove' of your decision to work, I think that's very narrow minded of them - I am just enormously grateful that I DON'T have to (or want to) go to work so I am happy to help out. Also, I don't have any family nearby & my DH works very long hours/travels with work so if I want a break to do something on my own it is really useful to have friends willing to help me out.

I think it would be worth asking the neighbour's au pair - suppose you'd have to check with the neighbour first - but goodness, £6 an hour to babysit - what part of the country do you live in? We pay £3 an hour - but very rural here!!


Dannie · 05/03/2003 22:44

this is a tough one. I work part time in an office where a senior staff member throws a fit if anyone comes in with a cold, in case they infect her, but if I took sickies every time dd or ds had a cold I'd never be there, and she'd throw another fit. I think I inadvertently gave them all ds's sinus infection late last year, but somehow they blamed someone else. I don't know how to handle this, cos they could pick up germs on the Tube or in the supermarket and blame me, though obviously if I had something really nasty I'd stay away.
I vividly remember yelling at a colleague with a dire case of presenteeism who insisted on coming into the office with very bad flu when I was very pregnant with ds, but in that case I was the boss and would have thanked her heartily for keeping her germs to herself. Nowadays the tables are turned.


Ghosty · 06/03/2003 06:04

Sadly this is definitely the downside of working mums isn't it ... I loved teaching and was (I believe) a good teacher but once I had DS I hated my job and my boss because of his attitude to my taking time off when DS was sick. I made myself ill with worry ... if DS had so much as a tiny sniffle I would be a wreck with stress. I worked 2 1/2 days a week but one term I had to take a total of 10 days off because DS had a series of things (tonsillitis followed by an ear infection followed by D & V)
My Headteacher was a total @*%@$% about it ... it was alright for him ... he and his wife lived on site, she worked there and the kids went there so if they were sick they just stayed in bed and she would check on them every so often ...
I was miserable and hated every minute of my job ...
It took extreme measures for me to get out of a crap situation ... DS had the offer of a job in NZ and it meant that I could be a SAHM.... so that is one of the reasons why we are here!!!!
Of course it wasn't the only reason why we moved but I feel so lucky that I can now give my son 100% rather than the 50% he was getting and the 50% my work was getting.
I know many of you work because you want to and I admire you all for it ... it was just that Ghosty + baby + job = Ghosty
But now Ghosty + toddler + NO JOB = Ghosty
I think it is so unfair that parents are made to feel stressed about work when their child is ill ... I only wish that there was some kind of law that allowed parents to take (paid) days off due to sickness ... but then there would be people who would take advantage of that I suppose ...
Meid, I hope you work something out ...


Clarinet60 · 12/03/2003 17:50

I'm a bit confused as to why a SAHM would be able to look after a sick - ish child and risk her family going down with whatever it is. Personally, I wouldn't look after someone elses sick child on the days I'm at home, as I wouldn't want mine to get yet another bug, and children are usually clingier when ill.

It is a very apt topic though. I work part time, but I've literally lost weeks over the last 6 months, mostly through one or other of them having threadworms and the childminder, understandably not wanting them. You can't hide the little blighters in a baby's nappy. I once sent them when DS1 had a slight cold and my minder lost about 3 days work when she caught it from him really badly.

Needless to say, when it comes to the decision about who's job will take the hit when they're ill, it's never DH's.


bundle · 12/03/2003 18:01

dh & me usually split the day/s dd is off with something contagious - occasionally one of us will do a whole day but I like to come in in the mornings if I have a choice & then go back for lunchtime ish.


bossykate · 12/03/2003 19:35

ghosty, you must have been a maths teacher


Lindy · 13/03/2003 15:27

Droile - as a SAHM I would offer to have a friends' child who was ill (and have done) - obviously not if it was a life threatening highly contagious disease but for the average cold/tummy bug etc my attitude would be that my child (who is 2, obviously again different if you have a young baby) is more than likely to pick the same sort of thing up anyway.

I feel that friendships and helping other people out is very, very important - who know when I might need to rely on someone else's help?

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