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Cold season creates conflicts for parents page 2
Winter's tough on parents who balance jobs, caring for sick kids

 Six-year-old Olivia Roudabush rests while she's home sick. Olivia, a student at Smith Station Elementary, has been battling a sinus infection. Her mom and dad have alternated taking sick days to stay home and take care of her.
photos by PETER CIHELKA/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 1/10/2013

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Christina Meredith said that her employer's flexibility made her feel much better about her job. The Spotsylvania County mom was able to work from home and over the weekend when her 4-month-old daughter recently had RSV, a respiratory virus.

"I'm so sad to see that there are so many companies that want you to put your job before your children, and yet my company is so incredibly willing to prove that your family comes first," Meredith said.

Leave is just half the battle. Often, a working parent has the sick time but also has an important commitment.

For Roudabush, taking care of Olivia meant missing an important meeting, calling in a substitute and swinging by school in the evening to make copies and leave lesson plans for the next day's substitute.

Stafford County mom Elaine Hild suggested that working parents looking for alternatives get friendly with stay-at-home moms and retirees.

"If you respect them and their time, they are often willing to help in a jam," Hild said.

Some parents faced with the dilemma try a desperation move--a dose of Tylenol to reduce a child's fever and pain enough to send them to school for a few hours.

The drug's fever-reducing super powers usually run out by midday, prompting a lunchtime rush at the school nurse's office. Parents said they feel guilty for the sneaky maneuver. But sometimes, Tylenol feels like the only tool in the arsenal while juggling work and parenting during the sick season.

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973
Email: aumble@freelancestar.com


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The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips for knowing when to keep your child home from school or daycare. Keep them home if:

their temperature is 101 degrees F or higher. Wait until children are fever-free before letting them return to school.

they're having diarrhea or have vomited at least two times in the last 24 hours.

they're diagnosed with strep throat. Keep them home for 24 hours after starting antibiotics.

they have pinkeye. Keep them home for 24 hours after treatment begins.

they have a rash that hasn't been checked out by a doctor.

BE PREPARED FOR SICK DAYS

If you're one of the lucky parents who hasn't had to stay home with a sick kid, your time is probably coming. Here are some things you can do now to prevent illness--and to be prepared if it does hit.

Talk with your boss and plan for how to handle sick days. Discuss options to work from home or work unusual hours.

Learn your company's policies on sick leave and whether you can use it to care for family members.

Make a list of people who can care for your kid if you absolutely can't be home. Think of family and friends nearby, but not those with weakened immune systems or who might be more vulnerable to sickness.

Practice prevention techniques: frequent hand-washing, covering coughs, avoiding contact with sick people and getting enough sleep.