A reader requested this post and I couldn’t agree more that it is a necessary evil. You know that I’m all about personal responsibility. While you may have a support system, in the end, it comes down to you. This applies for your job as well as at home.
I get it. I’ve been there. It sucks and it’s hard. But as I tell my kids, “life’s tough and I hate to tell you, it doesn’t get any easier”.
Your kid is sick, daycare won’t take them, you don’t have a spouse to stay home instead of you, and you know you are going to get it too, so there’s a recovery period for your child and then you. If you have more than one, you may have the joy of returning to work only for the sibling to get it as well.
No, it’s not fair. Women already make less than men. Women have to take off to have the baby. They are also generally the ones who stay home when they are sick. Married women already have to prove they will be reliable, something our male counterparts don’t generally have to deal with. Now, you’re single so the stakes are higher. You CANNOT lose this job but you need to care for your child. This is not to say men do not have these issues as well. My ex has to balance work and home all the time, and I am not always available to take the girls on short notice when he gets stuck at work. He is jumping through hoops all by himself. Being a single parent is hard.
All that said….your employer does not care. They have a business to run and they expect you to be there, and rightfully so. They count on you and you count on a paycheck. See how that works?
This is what most single parents forget; married people have trouble when their children get sick too. When I was married to my ex, our oldest developed RSV. I had a new job, but she was VERY ill. We kept her out of daycare to avoid this and she still got sick. My new employer was not happy because my ex could not take off, and it looked bad. Every time the nanny got sick, she called in, so there was that issue as well. No childcare situation is perfect. Now, when my kids get sick, we try to swap off or each take the sick child a half day so we do not miss a full day. Some things cannot be avoided.
Things happen to everyone, single or otherwise. Sometimes, your employer is going to have to figure it out. However, I can almost guarantee that unless you have a disabled child, the majority of your absences are from a lack of planning, not emergencies.
- Keep up with maintenance on your car. Yes, you may get a nail in your tire now and then. However, change your car battery before it is dead. Blowing out a tire you didn’t replace, or engine failure due to your lack of maintenance, can and should be avoided.
- Take care of yourself. Sure, you are going to get sick but this is the exception, not the rule. Your employer will understand a scheduled doctor’s appointment. They will not understand constant last-minute appointments. Your goal should be 2 weeks notice for all doctor’s appointments. If you are going to be going through anything medical, which will require multiple absences or an adjusted schedule, have a meeting and discuss it prior to. Agreeing to make up the time will remind your employer that you human and things come up, but you not a slacker. Same goes for your children. Regular checkups and vaccinations go a long way.
- Maintain your house. The stain spreading across your ceiling? It’s a roof leak. Handle it and do not wait until your living room caves in at 7:00AM to call your boss. Regular maintenance on your car, you, and your house, cuts down on a ton of last-minute scrambling.
- Pay your bills. I know this sounds obvious but if I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t think to mention it. Your boss doesn’t care that your utility bill is due that day. So was theirs and they paid it without missing work.
- ANYTHING can be researched online. Do your research from home and know exactly what you need to do to accomplish your goals. Need to sign up your tots for soccer? Go on the website, figure it out, and try to pay over the phone on your lunch break. You should not be taking off work without notice for non-emergencies. Basically, learn to manage your time.
- Discuss visitation with your employer (preferably in writing if possible). In my case, we rotate every Friday. My employer is always aware of this. This means for them that when I have my girls, I am out the door at 5:00PM and not a second later. If your boss has constant emergencies, which make you late, they need to learn to manage their time and you leaving them with their own mess may be just the training they need. However, they also know that on the weeks that I do not have my girls that I am available to work later if needed, and I am happy to do so. This way, they see that you are not using your children as an excuse. You reproduced, congratulations, they don’t care.
See the pattern? If you don’t constantly have the above-mentioned “emergencies” (which really aren’t), when your daycare calls to say that your kid is projectile vomiting, covered in purple spots, and growing a tail (or whatever other crap you made up to tell your boss), your employer will understand because it is not the norm. And if they don’t? Quit, because they are assholes and family is the most important. Just make sure you aren’t being a whiny bitch before you assume they are the asshole.