This is the depressing truth about being a mum who puts your kid in childcare to return to the workforce: you’ve got months of coughing, sneezing, fevers, vomiting and possibly explosive diarrhoea ahead of you. Unless helpful grandparents live nearby, you will almost definitely end up taking time off work. Quite possibly, lots of it.
How about if you’re a dad with a kid starting in childcare? Well, that’s usually a different story. Chances are, you probably won’t take too much time off work at all.
Now, an employment expert is calling on mums to stop being martyrs and dads to start doing their fair share of looking after sick kids.
Listen: Dealing with mum martyr syndrome in the workplace. (Post continues.)
Kiri Stejko, executive coach with Parents At Work, says childhood illness is a big issue for working parents. She says although some kids seem to have strong immune systems, most will have two tough winters ahead of them when they start in care.
“If you’ve got multiple kids, you’ve got multiple years of winters,” she points out. “They can have weeks off.”
Stejko says most childcare centres have policies where kids with a temperature over 37 aren’t allowed back for 24 hours.
“They can be fine, but they’re not allowed back.”
New research by Cenovis has found 90 per cent of the time, it’s mums rather than dads who stay home with ill kids. Once they’ve used up their sick and carer’s leave, some of them even start using up their annual leave. The research shows that last winter, 11 per cent of Aussie mothers took annual leave to look after a sick family member.
Stejko agrees it tends to be mums who take leave to look after unwell kids. She says they need to talk to their partners about it before they return to work.
“If there is a partner, don’t just take the martyr mentality,” she advises.
“Don’t take it all on yourself. Do consider this to be a team effort. Have the conversation now about how you’re going to handle it.