How,Share,Your,Home,Office,wit DIY How to Share Your Home Office with a Sick Child
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Monday rolled around and I was ready to go. I showeredearly, fired up the computer and pulled in all my emailbefore my daughter's alarm went off at 7:00 a.m. As I wasmaking her breakfast, my thoughts were focused on all thework I was going to accomplish that week. Then she stumbledinto the kitchen with her announcement: "Mommy, I don't feel too good." Sure enough, she was running a slight fever. There was noway she could go to school that day - and my game plan forthe week was going to have to be changed. For me, the biggest benefit of becoming a work at home momis the ability to take a sick kid in stride. With no boss toanswer to, or co-workers to feel guilty about - and myoffice right here in my home - a little fever is no longer areason to declare marital war (as it was in the bad old dayswhen my husband and I fought over which one was going tostay home this time). However, work at home parents do have to make adjustmentswhen their kids take a sick day - and during flu and coldseason, there could be a lot of those - especially if youhave more than one child and they catch the bug serially. You know it's going to happen - so you need to be prepared: * Got cold medication? Check your supply of children's pain relievers (i.e., Tylenol, Motrin, etc.) Buy lots of it before flu season starts. You'll know it's time when you see the coupons in the Sunday paper. Either use them - or take that as your cue to buy in bulk at your favorite warehouse store. Many pediatricians advise against giving multi-symptom coldmedications (you know - the ones that promise to lower afever, relieve a stuffy nose *and* suppress a cough). Askyour doctor his or her recommendation for your children attheir annual checkups, including correct dosages (which willchange as they grow). Write it down and keep it with yourstash of medicine. You won't believe how easy it is toforget this months later when you actually need it! * You probably already keep the fridge stocked with snack foods your kids can get for themselves (it does not take a work at home parent long to realize that this is essential with children around!) You may need to supplement your pantry with additional comfort foods. If they are old enough to stay home alone while you go shopping, do it as soon as possible. Make sure you include a variety of juices -- as the doctors say, their sick little bodies need plenty of fluids. If your kids are little - and you are unlucky enough tohave the bug hit when the cupboard is bare - you may needoutside help. This is a good time for a neighbor or friendto repay a kindness and pick up a few things at the store.And instead of taking time from work to make lunch, you allmight enjoy having a pizza delivered. This is when I used to rely on the late, lamented Webvan tobring some groceries. Although that big flashy onlinegrocery service died spectacularly last year, you may stillbe able to find one that will deliver to your home. A quicklook on a search engine turned up these: < http://www.PeaPod.com > goes to Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, and some parts of New York state and Connecticut. < http://www.GetGroceries.com > is a network of stores that deliver to parts of Colorado, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington state. < http://www.NetGrocer.com > offers nationwide grocery delivery - but they accomplish this by shipping through Federal Express. While this might make sense if you want to make sure you never run out of non-perishable staples like macaroni and cheese, this won't work in a sick kid situation. Safeway is experimenting with home deliveries, and if you live in Portland, OR or Vancouver, you are in luck. (And if so, please go to < http://shop.safeway.com/ > and start using the service whether your child is sick or not! If their test is successful, a national rollout would be a godsend!) * You should have an "activity kit" that you can bring out on a sick day. Be on the lookout for children's videos that go on sale, computer games that could be fun and educational, coloring books, crayons, stickers, etc. Stash these in a closet until they are needed. This could give you hours of uninterrupted work time before they start complaining that they are bored. * You probably try to limit the amount of time your kids spend watching television. But when they are home sick and you are trying to get some work done, the TV can be your best friend. There is no better time to relax the rules a bit - and one Nickelodeon-saturated day will not hurt them in the long run. * Accept the fact that you will not be as productive this week. If do not already have a to-do list, start one now and rank your priorities. Chances are, you'll find lots of tasks that can wait a few days until your child is back in school. Plan to do only what is absolutely necessary. If you'relucky, you may even be able to tackle a few of the thingsthat are lower on the list... just don't count on it. * Rely on your voice mail system. Change your outgoing message to reflect the fact that you may not be available during regular office hours. You don't have to reveal your reason if it is not appropriate. Simply state that you will be out of the office for a few days but will check in for messages. Prioritize your calls and return them accordingly. * You may need to cancel or reschedule your appointments. If this is not possible, enlist a friend, family member or babysitter to stay with your kids while you are out-- and don't feel guilty about it.Above all, cherish this time when your kids need you to carefor them. In sickness and in health, these years are special...and they don't last forever.