Fall. Kids go back to school, the leaves start to change, and everyone settles into routine.
But going back to school, or having a child start daycare is not all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, perhaps you find yourself with small children fearful of this time of year because it signals the dreaded cold and flu season (which includes much more than cold and flu btw). Find yourself looking up childhood virus symptoms on the internet? What is that rash? Will it be whooping cough, scarlet fever, fand-foot-and mouth disease? Spoiler alert: they will catch all the things, many things you will also catch yourself and *hopefully* if you have multiple kids they get it together as opposed to back to back.
When kids are sick and they have to miss daycare or school, who takes care of them? For some it might be a caregiver or nanny. For others, it might be a close relative, perhaps a parent or sibling, or there is a stay-at-home parent. But for many, and I’m guessing that includes some of you, my dear readers, the buck stops with you.
As a sole practitioner, and the lawyer in my relationship with the “more flexible“ job, I find myself the go-to sick day parent. Since becoming a parent, and especially since becoming a parent of more than one child, I have struggled with this role. I find myself asking if this is a patriarchy thing or something I chose myself when deciding to work for myself after having kids.
Imagine (some of you don’t have to imagine this, I see you), between two and four workdays per month completely overhauled due to a sick kid or kids and never knowing which day(s) it will be. Surprise! For a Type A perfectionist, this is my nightmare. I thought I put out my own shingle to be my own boss. Clearly, there are two new little bosses in town.
My coping strategy has been to lean on immediate family (which I fully acknowledge is a privilege) and to be honest with clients when one of these days presents themselves. Thank goodness many of my clients themselves are parents with school aged kids.
More recently, I have been trying to manage my mind with regards to my expectations about what can get done on those days because, in all honesty, even if I have a wonderful mother or mother-in-law helping out, there are still many interruptions because I work from home.
I can’t be the only female lawyer who feels like conversations about emergency childcare need to be included in the broader discussion of the different expectations between male and female lawyers. And how about our fellow female lawyers who are assisting with the caregiving of a sick parent or sibling? There has to be a better way than just white knuckling it through.
So, I ask you, dear readers. What coping strategies or life hacks have you come up with? And do you feel like this is a larger issue deserving of a more united strategy? Let me know, for now, you will find me offering my kids a wipe or sanitizer at every turn...
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