The delicate daycare dance

Aug 30 2010 Published by under [Education&Careers], Etc, LifeTrajectories

From the perspective of planning one's week, I don't think there is any toddler malady worse than a head cold. It's right in the middle between "Oh, she's staying home today" and "Meh, daycare will deal." because it can clear right up or get worse by virtue of the fact that the kid can't sleep while coughing.

So the debate begins.

She's not that bad right? She hasn't coughed in a bit. Do we just send her hoping everything is fine? Maybe it will be and we can both get a full day at work, but if she gets 'kicked out' at any time during the day one of us has to leave work immediately and on short notice. To make matters worse, they ask that she not return for 24 hours.

You lose, back two spaces.

Commence schedule comparison. What do you have this morning? What can get done from home? How about each taking half a day? What about taking her to work? Where will she have the easiest day so she can get better quickly and our schedules can get off the tilt-a-whirl?

Where is the sweet spot that allows us to take the least amount of work off while getting her healthy the fastest?

We do this probably a dozen times a year and sometimes we get it right and others we don't, but it never fails to throw a monkey wrench in the best laid plans.

11 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    "back two spaces". Yeah, this.

    What I almost always wonder after one of these episodes is how people who have stricter schedules than the academic types deal. Really we have it pretty good careerwise when it comes to being a parent.

  • Nat says:

    I am totally dreading fall and the return of serial illnesses. My only hope is that the third sickness season will show the little girl's totes awesome adaptive immune system. But let's also hope the ear tubes are still in there, ready to drain any foul pustulence. Cause if this winter is like the previous one, any momentum I have in the lab will be totally derailed (*sigh*)

    But DM is right about people with strict schedules. My wife has patient responsibilities, so sicknesses generally fall on me. Which blows, but what if we both had that kind of work schedule? We'd be screwed.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    Yeah, save for teaching days my schedule is fairly flexible. I don't know what people do who have a strict 9-5, or like Nat's wife, are on two MD scheds. I guess you just have a nanny or family member on call.

    I bet someone could make a lot of money setting up an emergency day care just for kids with colds that regular day care won't take.

  • gnuma says:

    Yeah, people do sick care. Mostly at-home mom types. Check it out on, or start asking other peeps from your daycare. My impression is that most people end up having to burn through their sick leave.

  • I really don't know how 9-5ers do it. The lab tech I was working with during my postdoc would often have to take off halfway through a day to collect her sick kid(s), regardless of whether she had a full day of animal surgeries scheduled or not. It created a lot of tension in the lab but as she was a single parent the situation was unavoidable.

  • tideliar says:

    I get kind of the opposite effect. My girlfriend works with kids in the school system as well as privately. She does autism intervention stuff, so the kids can be anywhere from 2ish to teenish. Every fall is like fucking plague season in the Tideliar household. She gets it from them and gives it to me. Plus working in a office it's a disease factory too.

  • Agree. It is so much easier to juggle daycare now that I am a prof than it was when I was at National Lab. Most of the parents of young kids came in to work as long as they could stand, since they burned most of their sick leave on their kids' illnesses.

  • ianqui says:

    Yeah, juggling. I know it too. My husband works for a veerrrry small company, so we tend to do the "you take morning, I take afternoon" thing.

    But taking her to work? Really? Can that really be better than working from home? My son would be just as disruptive to me there (although delightful grad students who like to whisk away toddlers might be able to give me 20 minutes here and there, I guess).

  • (another) former academic says:

    My adviser, who is quite successful, solved the problem by working from home EVERY tues and thurs. That way if the kids were sick, she didn't have any meetings to cancel. Her partner worked the opposite shift.

    As a student, it was occasionally irritating not to be able to schedule meetings on tues/thurs - but she never canceled a meeting either. I appreciate that stability more now that I am a parent myself.

    I've tried to implement a 'soft' version of this with my partner - deciding in advance who will stay home on which days if neccessary. You lays your bets and you takes your chances.

    Many, many people don't have this much control over their schedule, but academics do, and I don't see any reason not to take advantage of it.

  • Hephaestus says:

    And then there is the dreaded 100F fever. Around these parts, day care can't take a child with a fever of 100F or greater. This meant, back in the day when I had to worry about such things, that you had to carefully analyze your toddler's health to determine whether 1) he or she was likely to improve or degrade during the day (unless you had to make a morning meeting and then could come home) and 2) he or she was happy and bouncy enough to fool everyone long enough for you to sneak out of the door.

    I want to thank my children for turning me into a sneaky little petty criminal.

  • NancyNew says:

    What happens is that you hang in there and do the daycare dance, and improvise and adapt... and pretty soon you realize that it's not a chronic condition.

    As the kids get older, their immune systems DO kick in, they've been exposed to, caught, and brought home for the rest of the family just about everything possible, and you've survived it. By the time they're in K-12, unless there's a serious health issue to deal with, you have a couple of illness-emergencies in the school year, not a dozen, and by the time they've finished elementary school? It's pretty well over.

    You've also learned, by that time, which employer has a heart and which doesn't; which partner is best able to roll with the punches, AND you've figured out your support system.

    My kids are now grown. Hang in there. It doesn't last forever, and every year, it gets a little better as they get a little older.

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