When Childcare Falls Through

Charlene Prince Birkeland at Job-Mom is facing a common conundrum for working moms: the babysitter calling in sick at the last minute. Zoinks!

I’ve been very fortunate so far that this hasn’t happened to me. My husband, who works from home and watches our daughter, needed me to stay home only one day in the last six months. His back gave out and he simply couldn’t haul her around.

But I had at least more than a few minutes of notice! And if I wasn’t able to stay home with her, I probably could’ve called my mom or aunt in a pinch, or even one of my freelancing friends.

So what the heck do you do when your sitter or nanny calls in sick?

8 thoughts on “When Childcare Falls Through

  1. Yep! That’s another one of those Calls that working moms dread. I got one a couple of weeks ago – my sitter called in tears at 11:30 p.m., just as I was getting ready to get in bed. Her father had just died and she couldn’t take my daughter the next day (obviously). I couldn’t find backup at midnight, so I had to email my team and tell them I’d be working from home. Luckily we have the flexibility to do that at our office, and my boss (ahem, you) is understanding about that kind of thing. Though some days are better for last-minute work-at-home arrangements than others. If there had been some sort of big meeting that day, I would have been in a pickle. Luckily my sitter handled everything like a pro and I only had to juggle a few days, but it was stressful. It’s hard when you rely on someone else. They have a life, too!

  2. It’s hard, that’s all I can say. When I was working and one of the kids got sick and couldn’t go to school, my husband and I would sit down with our calendars, see who had what meetings when, which could be moved, which could be cancelled, and which calls could be taken from home. You’d have thought we were planning the invasion of a small country with all of the tactical and logistical considerations that had to be discussed. I was very fortunate to have an understanding boss and my husband is the boss, so that helped, but it was still hard nonetheless. It’s those days when you feel like you are definitely not going to win the award for mother of the year because you are stressed about missing work, but then guilty that you aren’t devoting all of your attention to your child when you’re home because you’re on the phone and fielding emails. You just feel tugged in a million different directions. Working parents have to juggle A LOT. It’s just hard, man.

  3. Another thing to keep in mind is when your sitter goes on vacation. Although you’ll know ahead of time, if she’s gone for a week or more–you’ll need to have a reliable back-up sitter in mind.

  4. Charlene Prince Birkeland says:

    Thanks ladies. The funny thing is that I was worried my son gave her son the stomach flu, which caused her to call in sick (more guilt!). Turns out he gave it back to my son…we’re in round 2 this morning of the stomach flu. It made a surprise encore. Damn.

    I think it’s hitting me harder, this babysitter issue, because I’m still picking up the pieces of my boys being so sick last week.

  5. selfmademom says:

    Yeah I saw this on Charlene’s site. I totally pick up the slack when my nanny got sick awhile ago. If it is one day, it’s usually not that big of a deal. But if it’s longer I have to usually call my mom to come in to help. Either way you look at it, nanny sick = sucks for mommy and daddy.

  6. just4ofus says:

    Luckily this doesn’t happen often with our sitter. Our previous sitter however, had a habit. Jason and I took turns calling in. Luckily I am part time, so it didn’t happen too often.
    The vacation thing, yeah, we plan our vacations around the sitter’s vacations.

  7. I have been very fortunate. My boss knew when he hired me that my loyalites were to my family. It took a year but I demonstrated trustworthiness and indefatiguable work ethic, I now telecommute Mondays and afternoons. When childcare has faltered I have dutifully worked from home. I cannot imagine what I’d do otherwise.

    Love this blog by the way!

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