Sadly, juggling work and sick kids still mostly falls on the mamas’ shoulders. Here, Amy reflects on the years of calling in sick with sick kids, and how different life is now.
It was always the first thing that used to pop into my mind:
‘what am I going to tell work?’
Whenever one of my children started showing the early signs of illness – a slight temperature, a screaming night, a refusal to eat or calm down – my first thought was not their wellbeing. Or what they might need in the moment. As hard as that is to admit, my very first thought was always to my work.
‘I can’t call in sick again.’
Up until the end of 2015, I had spent seven years of mamahood juggling a pretty intense career. Both of my first children started daycare and grandma-care at nine months old, as I dived back into my early shifts and high energy role in breakfast radio. Being at the ABC was such a big part of who I thought I was, I loved going back to work: the adult conversations, the feeling that I was finally up to date with what was happening in the world again. My girls loved their daycare centres and, thankfully, we had grandparents only streets away who could step in when daycare was not possible.
When we moved to Sydney however, that all changed.
No longer did I have sitters just a phone call and a few streets away. And no longer did I have back-up whenever I needed it. It was up to me now – and that meant a phone call to my boss at all hours of the night and day, informing them that I can’t come in again.
I hated that feeling – hated how it made me feel so unprofessional. I felt like my team members were judging me. I felt like I was letting everyone down.
I know we’re meant to be living in a time when the Dads can take time off to be with their sick kids too, but in my world, like so many of you, this isn’t much of a reality. Bosses don’t want to hear their men call in with a story of a child vomiting all night: I can count on one hand the number of times my husband has been able to do that. There’s been the occasional morning of working from home so I can do some of my own work before stepping into mummy time, but generally, the juggle of sick kids has fallen firmly on my shoulders.
Not because he wants it that way, but because that’s how our society and work culture wants it. For the vast majority of us, it’s still the mamas who have to make that uncomfortable phone call.
The last winter I was at the ABC was the worst. Three kids means that once one gets sick, you’re almost guaranteed that the next two will get it too. And with my little ones, they seemed to tag team for months on end. It got so bad that one of my colleagues – a mama herself – actually asked me if I was concerned with how often my kids were sick. As a woman, I would have hoped she would have more compassion, but her judgement of my family’s health spoke volumes.
Two years on from that winter, I am now juggling winter colds and broken nights with my own business – and how different things are. Now, my work can be moved around to meet my little ones’ needs: I can write early in the morning before they wake and take the rest of the day off to be with them. I can answer emails will they play next to me. I can take a phone call while in the park.
Running my own business has been the biggest learning-curve of my life – and there are times I wish I could just walk into an office and know exactly what was expected of me. Clock on and clock off. A clear job description with a clear pay cheque at the end of the week.
But building my coaching business, and now Happy Mama media, has been the best gift for my little family. I’m able to pick and choose my work, and my hours. I’m able to do school drop off and pick up. I know this is a season of my life when my children fill most of my space – and it took me a long time to be OK with that. But for now, I know this is a blessing.
If only we could all juggle things when our children need us without the guilt and judgement.
If only our men could call into work and ask for a carer’s day as openly as our mamas.
If only we all had the gift of flexibility.
If you’re a mama running your own business – or perhaps dreaming of starting something that gives you the gift of flexibility – New York Times best-selling author Gabby Bernstein’s life-changing digital program ‘Spirit Junkie Masterclass’ is currently open for enrolment.
And for a very limited time, sign up for Gabby’s program, and receive two bonus coaching sessions with Amy! A unique chance to ask Amy how she built her business while raising her family – simply sign up for Gabby’s program before the 29th of June for the best opportunity to build an abundant business around your babies.
This digital program is not just about building a business – it’s about learning to surrender to the journey. It’s about working in a way that supports your soul. And it’s about doing good in the world, while serving your family.
And by diving in and making this commitment to yourself and your dreams, Amy will guide you in how to build your own flexible business.
** Amy is a proud affiliate for Gabby’s transformational digital masterclass **