If there's one thing you can count on as a parent, it's that the unexpected will happen, and probably when it's least convenient. That's the nature of raising children. Having backup caregivers in place for emergencies and being aware of resources available to you through work and in your community will help you feel less stressed if the unexpected does happen.
Here are two scenarios you may face as a parent and ways to handle them:
• Your child is sick. You're at work trying to get a project in on deadline when the school nurse calls. Your child has a slight fever and a sore throat. The nurse suspects strep throat and asks you to come right away. She suggests you bring your child to the pediatrician for a throat culture. You're a 45-minute drive from your child's school. If you leave now, you'll miss your project deadline. Here are two effective ways to handle the situation:
- Ask a trusted neighbor or relative to pick up your child and bring him to the pediatrician's office. Let the nurse know who will be picking up your child and call ahead to the doctor's office to authorize your child's treatment. You may need to fax over a note giving permission. Ask the medical provider to call you when the child is in the office, particularly if there are any questions. Also provide your pharmacy's phone number in case the health care provider needs to prescribe medication.
- Request a deadline extension. Explain the circumstances to your manager and come up with an alternate plan. Specify exactly how and when you will get the work done.
• School is cancelled. You switch on the radio in the morning to learn that school has been cancelled. But you have to be at work and your backup provider isn't available. Here are three effective ways to handle the situation:
- Call other parents to see who will be home and able to take your child for the day.
- Call a high school student whom you trust to come over and watch your child while you are at work.
- Talk to other working parents to learn whether anyone has care lined up for their children and if so, whether you can share the expense with them.
Making such arrangements in advance will make your day much less stressful, while providing a smooth transition for your child. If a big snowstorm is forecast for the next day, make arrangements the night before.
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