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Juggling Work And Family

Years ago, a mother was there to take care of children when they became sick. But as The Early Show Contributor Katy Abel reports, in many cases, that's not true anymore.


Whether it's a wheeze or a sneeze, a cold or the flu, when kids feel sick, working parents such as Mary Kay and Theo Tselios feel another symptom coming on: panic.

"I think, 'Oh my child is sick, should I call the doctor,' and then of course the second thing that comes into my mind is what's in my calendar. There's never a right time for them to be sick," says Mary Kay Tselios, a bank manager.

Her husband Theo is in the restaurant business. If one of their two sons becomes sick, they have few options.

"I have a backup list, people that I call," she explains. "We have a baby sitter we've used in the past. Then we have friends and good neighbors."

Like the Tselios parents, many adults feel caught. Should they miss a deadline or pass up being with their child?

"You are torn between two principles - being a good employee or being a good parent," notes Theo Tselios.

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, says these types of situations are a huge source of stress.

"Most parents put together arrangements that are like a house of cards. It just takes...feeling your child's forehead to make all the cards come tumbling down," she says.

"It's seen by employers as you either put your cards on the work table, or you put your cards on the family table," she adds.

And if the boss doesn't make you feel guilty, your children certainly will!

Here are some statistics, according to a recent survey:

WHO CARES FOR THE SICK CHILD?
84 percentOf sick kids say having their moms at home to take care of them is their No. 1 priority.
69 percentOf married men say their wives are more likely to take off when kids are sick.
83 percentOf mothers say they themselves are more likely to take off.
4 percentOf large companies have on-site sick-child care.

So if you're getting ready for work nd your kid is sick, here are some suggestions:
  • Determine how sick the child is; don't rely on temperature alone.
  • Know the policies at school or daycare to see if the child must stay home or if he's OK to attend school.
  • If both parents work, they need to discuss privately who assumes the responsibility that day.
  • Go through your list and backup list.
  • If you can't find anyone, know the sick child rules and policies at work and the whims of your boss.
  • Be direct and proactive; offer alternatives for getting work done.
  • Some companies have a bank of people registered with the firm that can be called for in-home or drop-off sick care.
  • Try to make sure that your child has met the sitter before or that you have references from people who have already used this person.

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