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Sickness strikes... and lives are left in chaos

I got a call at my desk around midday last week to tell me my two-year-old was sick at creche. Conveniently, I work from home, so I stopped what I was doing and picked up my little lady. My afternoon as a journalist was a write-off, which is tough, as I only work a three-day week.

The next morning my three-year-old was showing signs of his sister's bug, so I decided to keep him home from Montessori. Luckily I don't work Fridays, so this didn't interfere with any work deadlines. On Sunday night, when the kids were tucked up in bed, I sat at my desk to finish the work I'd been doing when my daughter got sick. I'd have much rather watched Downton Abbey, but I had a deadline that needed to be honoured.


Happily, the kids were in full health on Monday, but on Tuesday I got a call from the after-school club to say my eldest's tummy wasn't well. It was only 45 minutes before my usual collection time, so I didn't lose too much of my workday.

I share the minutiae of my life because after a week of my three kids picking up (thankfully very mild) bugs, I began to wonder how the hell working mums and dads of the world manage. How is it possible to hold down full-time jobs, run a home and be parents?

My husband works full-time, as did I until the arrival of baby number three when I decided to drop two days of work. It made sense for lots of reasons -- more time with my kids, a smaller childcare bill and work was also quieter. With small children, working from home and working for yourself have huge advantages. I'm close by if anyone's sick and most days manage to have the kids back home and tucking into home cooking by 5pm.

But how do other parents manage when they get a call at their place of work telling them to drop everything as junior is sick? I just can't imagine how tough that is.

And even when kids aren't sick, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. Despite working from home and living within a mile of both my kids' creche and school, which are in opposite directions, I still spend one hour and 45 minutes ferrying my children about.


This includes being 10 minutes early at school collection to get parking, loading smallies in and out of cumbersome car seats, traffic and brief interaction with the creche staff. Out of my eight-hour workday, I spent almost two of it in transit.

I can't work in a mess so I have to clean up the kitchen, put on a wash, and make the beds before sitting at my desk. It's often 9.45am before I start writing, and I still have the laundry to hang up, dinner prep and a school collection to squeeze in to my workday.

On the days where I'm at meetings all day, I dread arriving home to a house where the beds are still unmade, the laundry not done and a dinner to cook from scratch for three hungry kids. But this is the reality for thousands of amazing parents all over the country every day.

Sure, we're all lucky to have jobs, but isn't parenting really the toughest job of all? Thankfully, there aren't any hours left in the day to allow us feel sorry for ourselves.