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What to Do When You Can’t Call off Sick as a Work-From-Home Parent

Daniele M Robbers has been working from home in various fields for 3 years. She has two children and is living her dreams.


Working from home has many advantages, but one of the biggest disadvantages has got to be no sick days! If you have your own home-based business and are a parent, this just got a whole lot harder. If you haven’t been through this yet, let me tell you it is Hell on earth. Working from home is already tricky enough without having to push yourself when you have a cold or the flu. I would have to say the one perk is that you can type away on the couch while your toddler eats Goldfish. Also, if your nose won't stop running long enough to type a few words, you can always shove some toilet paper up it. Let's be honest, I know I am not the only one who has done this. Don't laugh; I would be horrified if anyone saw that though. All jokes aside, it is nice to be home when you are sick even if you must be the mom and the boss all at once. As overwhelming as it can be, with a little extra care and flexibilty, it is a doable feat. Here are my best tips and tricks.

Let the Mom(or Dad) Guilt Go

Yes, that is by far the most important thing.

  • You need to realize you are sick and no one can be at the top of their game if they are sick. Everyone has been there; people will understand. You can’t be a super mom if you run out of steam, so let it go.
  • You CAN do most of it later. I know I hear the whining starting already: “But the dishes, the laundry, and the emails are piling up. I can’t let anything go or the world will stop spinning, and I will single-handedly have ended the human race." It sounds silly but everything we do is not that important. It is okay to have a family sick day or three while cuddling, eating soup, and saying "oh well" on anything is not urgent. Once those sick days are done, you will have plenty of time to catch up. Guilt is not required.
  • If you handed them a bowl of cereal instead of a Pinterest-worthy meal because you decided to take a nap, guess what? Yep, that right still no guilt allowed on this one. The long-term effects on your child are zero and they most likely nominated you mom of the year for that one. Laugh it off, have fun with it, and move on.

Prioritize! Prioritize! Prioritze!

I can’t stress how important this is. Look, not everything is as important as it feels. What I do when I am super sick is I wake up and think of it like this, I can only do one thing today. So, what will it be? I work on that one thing as I can, allowing for rest and family needs to be met before reevaluating my priorities. There is something very freeing about only focusing on one thing at a time. When you can only do one thing you need to make it the most important thing possible, right? I look at my general to-do list and look for what really needs to be done not because of my nagging guilt but because it is truly necessary. I will look at both my business and our household needs. Remember in just a few days you can start to tackle all the minor tasks but for right now just worry about your one thing whatever that maybe.


Keep Those Kids Busy!

TV time and video games are a life saver, but I get it too much TV is a bad thing. To be honest I hate TV, though I let my son watch pre-school shows while I work and only when nothing else is working. So, what other ways are there to keep kids resting but self-contained? This is by no means all that you can do but hopefully will get your ideas flowing.

  • Keep some busy bags on hand for times like these. They are perfect for toddlers and Pinterest has many great ideas for them. The bonus here is many don’t cost anything or are crazy cheap.
  • Sensory activates at the table. Moon sand, shaving cream, and play dough. These are great ways to give your child something to do while yes there is a mess it not a hard one to clean up. Keep in mind just how sick you are before you pick a sensory activity.
  • Sorting and building activities. Books, blocks, and toys it really doesn’t matter I am sure you have enough kid safe items in your home that you could quickly grab and set up as a sorting game or has a building game.

The bonus with many calm actives is you can recruit the older kids to keep younger ones busy by including them.

  • Turn the living room into a fort. This can be as simple as table, chairs, and sheets or you could gather any cardboard boxes and empty juice jugs for them to incorporate into walls. Milk crates, pillows, and cushions all make great props too.
  • Set up a reading nook. A cool nook on the fly to encourage reading a good book can be as simple as moving the couch off the wall and throwing bedding down with a cool lamp.
  • Get some coloring books and coloring supplies.
  • Art projects are a life saver when the child is old enough to clean up when they are done.
  • Encourage drama. I know that turned your head, right? One of my favorite things to do is when I have more than one child around is let them put on a play together. This works well for the sick days too, if you provide some rules and guidelines. For this, I would give them a time limit to practice this way you can get your work done or take a nap during that when the timer goes off you all meet up for the show.

Stock up on Natural Remedies!

I am a huge promoter of natural remedies though I am not against over the counter options or even prescriptions, so if you know something works for you and fast without making you drowsy or affected by other Side effects than do it. The point here is to do whatever you can to feel better faster. There are tons of natural remedies out there for most if not everything that ales you. This post from Happy Mothering is a great place to get started if you have a cold. The reason I favor natural remedies partly because of my own past and I am very prone to side effects with both over the counter and perceptions drugs. So I start naturally if that does not do the trick I make a trip to the Doctor’s and get the strong stuff. I have a phobia of people in white coats, so I will avoid this usually tell there really isn’t another option, thus the skipping the drug store. But because of my aversion to Drs and over the counter medicine I have come to realize there are a few huge benefits to using natural remedies when down with a cold.

  1. Most of the time you can take them as need.
  2. They are cheaper (a lot of the time).
  3. Little to no side effects after work just as good if not better than over the counter meds.

Now I would like to take a moment to note that you still need to make sure what you are taking medicine wise won't be affected adversely by the natural remedies you are choosing to do. To be safe talk to your pharmacist and Dr before trying new combinations.

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Work in Small Bursts with Lots of Rest!

The key to being able to rest and to getting stuff done as a working parent is a balance. So, if you get up to go potty pick a few things up. If nothing thing else picks up those tissues filled with snot that are balled up next to you then get some more rest. If you got some laptop work to get done go head lay on the couch with the kids and bust out what you can. Just make sure to stop and just rest from time to time. Ideally, this would be to take a nap but if your kids are like mine they are not going to let that happen so just breath and do nothing.

Ask for Help!

Stop rolling your eyes at me already. Yes, ask for help. Ask:

  • A friend to carpool the kids to and from school until you feel better
  • a family member to bring you some sick basics like soup, crackers, tea, broth, extra.
  • Your partner or a friend to watch the kiddos, so you can take a nap.
  • Mom to bring you cold meds.
  • that boss or client to be super understanding if things are late too. (or to reschedule meetings and conferences).

If you stop and think about it I am sure at least one person in your life will do something to make your day just a tad easier. The problem is we like to believe we can’t rely on anyone else and must have the weight of the world on our shoulders. The reality is we are just human. You don’t have to go through it alone. I understand sometimes there really is no one who can help right now and that is okay. In fact, I had this happen recently, so I asked my daughter if she would help us to get better. I told her that meant we both did a little throughout the day and didn’t fight. She is 10 and when we both are sick at the same time boy do we bicker. Yet to my surprise IT did work.


Just remember it is hard enough being sick let alone sick with kids, at home add tending to a business and it may be next to impossible. The worst thing you can do is to start stress or guilt run you down. Hopefully, you can let it all go and just rest if not I hope these tips and advice will help you muster through. Do you have any other tips or tricks that you use to remain productive when you can’t call off sick? If so leave a comment we would love to hear them! Also feel free to leave me a message or ask a question. But maybe even more importantly Hope you are feeling well if not please get well soon!

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Daniele M Robbers


Daniele M Robbers (author) from Clearlake on March 24, 2018:

I will be improving it very soon. I just got a proofreader. And thank you so much for the positive feedback.

Mike Hardy from Caseville, Michigan on March 24, 2018:

Nice work...don't be afraid to go back and tweak your work even after publishing.

Daniele M Robbers (author) from Clearlake on March 21, 2018:

Thanks for the input!

Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on March 21, 2018:

A good start for a first hub. I would double check your spelling and syntax...and also check your formatting. You have some extra blank spaces between modules.

Your first module should always be an eye catching photo.

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