How (not) to have a sick day as a work at home mum

Allison Tait blog
Posted on March 21, 2011

It’s hard to have a day off when you’re a work at home mum. I was out of sorts this morning. Tired, headachey, blah. I decided I’d call in sick, put my feet up and read a book. Of course.

I got home to my quiet house after school drop-off. I readied myself for a sick day. Coffee at hand. Book at hand. I got onto the sofa. I assumed the correct ‘sick day’ position.

Nothing doing.

I remembered the three emails I needed to send to follow up interviews for later in the week. I got up. I sent my emails.

I assumed the correct ‘sick day’ position.

Nothing doing.

I remembered a feature story I’d forgotten to begin. I got up. I went through my contact list. I sent emails requesting interviews later in the week.

I assumed the correct ‘sick day’ position.

Nothing doing.

I noticed the pile of towels at the end of the sofa, remnants from a frantic folding session the night before.  They bothered me. I got up. I put the towels away.

I assumed the correct ‘sick day’ position.

Nothing doing.

I glanced at the clock. I remembered an interview was scheduled in 10 minutes time (hey, at least I remembered in my pale and wan condition). I got up. I wrote questions. I made a phone call. I made intelligent conversation.

I assumed the correct ‘sick day’ position.

I won’t go on (well, not any more than I already have). You get the picture. I will say this, however. I feel better. And not because of the five minutes an hour I spent in the ‘sick day’ position. More for the fact that I will get to the end of the day knowing that, while I haven’t done much, I’ve at least done enough to keep things ticking over. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? The ticking over.

How do ‘sick days’ work at your house?


  1. Christa aka The BabbyMama

    I did not take a single sick day ever when I worked at home, before I had a child or after. I never had a proper vacation day, either!

  2. susan

    I had a sick day this week as well. On said sick day I still had to send emails and get to two client meetings – one of which was a 90min drive each way. I managed to last the day thanks to lemonade and cruskits which was the only thing that calmed the nausea. But that said when I got home I pretty much passed out with a fever until the next morning. Then woke up right as rain to a house that looked like a bomb..

  3. Kymmie

    Oh no. Are you sure you didn’t pop over at my place and see me through a window? Funny post. I’m giggling at it. (Brilliant too!)

  4. Salamander

    I used to be a carry-on-at-all-costs mumma, no matter how sick I was…until one day I phoned my hubby to come home because I was too sick to look after the kids. He answered his phone four hours later, came home and found me on the floor, and I’ve never had a problem getting a “sick” day ever since…am I bad????

  5. cjtato

    What’s a sick day? I have been saying for a couple of years now that I need a doctor’s certificate for my family more than I ever needed on for an employer.

    And now that I work from home as well. Pfft. Forget it.

    *ssh come closer* Last Tuesday I turned my phone on silent and went back to bed and slept until 12pm! I felt so naughty but oh so good!

    Unfortunately, my husband was frantic when he got home not being able to contact me. Ooops. Note to self, let husband in on secret. LOL

  6. Donna

    So hard to have such a thing as a sick day when there is always so much to do! Its the guilt that always gets me, nibbling away at my subconscious, whispering to me all the things I should be doing instead of indulging in a Doona Day.

    Must be a mummy pre-requisite, to be a highly functioning sick person… We do it so well!

  7. me1in6a

    The only difference to me on a sick day is usually I dont get out of my pajamas. All else remains the same, its work as usual here, but somehow if I do it in jamas or trackies its a little comfort.

  8. Seana Smith

    I’m with Maxabella, all for the real under-the-doona sick day… We all are in theory of course. Our household has been ridiculously well for ages (touch wood) hangovers don’t count, do they? No family here but lovely neighbours so next time will be asking them for help- bound to be more helpful than my amazing disappearing husband.

  9. Georgie

    Sick days don’t exist. Any feeling of illness is quashed in the five minutes extra I lie in bed that particular morning. And then life rolls on. Oh woe is me… Georgie x

  10. TammyJ

    I’m having one of those days today.
    I said I WILL spend some time laying down today with such self convincing confidence today but I do see a lot of things I could do to make later easier and so its not totally awful tomorrow 🙂

  11. Kelloggsville

    working from home is the new sick day. “I’m too ill to come into the office, I’ll work from home” It is wrong but it’s the way it is 🙁

  12. Maxabella

    FFS, you’re all mad. I pull the doona up over my head, ignore the kids belating and let the husband sort the whole mess out. x

  13. Lucy

    I literally have to be hospitalised. That is my only effective sick day postition.

    My Mother used to claim a “migraine” once every while on a Sunday, and would just stay in bed all day in the dark. My Dad would have to deal with everything. I suspect she read books under the covers with a torch. I am tempted to adopt this strategy once in a while, now that the cricket season is complete…….

  14. Leanne

    As a fellow work at home Mum I am hearing you. Sick days? What sick days? Even when I’m throwing up in a bucket while sitting on the toilet I’m still washing the sheets and answering the freakin’ phone. Sigh. The only real way to get a good sick day in for me is to go home to my Mum …
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

  15. tinsenpup

    Even when I’m quite sick or in pain, I find I almost always feel better if I just keep moving and get something done, even if it’s at a slowed pace. There’s nothing worse than resting for a bit and getting up to a state of utter chaos. It doesn’t take long.

  16. Mama of 2 boys

    I don’t think I remember how to ‘do’ sick days anymore. I remember being told when I was dreadfully sick when my first baby was a couple of months old, that “once you become a mother, you simply CAN NOT be sick”. Those words are so true. Even when I’d like to assume the sick day position, I don’t.
    Great post and I hope you’re feeling much better tomorrow so you don’t have to do a repeat of today… your ‘sick days’ sound tiring ;o)

  17. traceyb65

    i remember once thinking, if only i could break a bone and have a real excuse to stop, just, stop! and then i broke a bone, my teeny little toe bone. after 5 hours in emergency all i knew was it hurt like buggery and couldn’t be plastered …

    and. nothing. stopped. not the kids, not work, not the housework, nothing. like you, i work from home and, unless i pull the blinds and bury myself under the doona, work goes on.

    and what’s the fun in spending a whole sick day in bed? xt

    ps. don’t worry about the ‘post has been removed’ above, i ditched it when i realised i was still signed into Google as my son … KIDS!!!

  18. Lewis

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Naturally Carol

    It is no wonder that there is a general undercurrent of stress through everybody’s life if even a sick day becomes a kind of ‘keep it rolling’ and ‘catchup’ day. I am sure though with a good support network..family..that they would be there if you were any sicker. I hope you’re feeling a lot better tomorrow and can take real time off for a proper holiday whenever you need major refreshing. Just pondering…

  20. Dovic

    Coolest thing about reading that post was that I could ‘hear you’ and actually visualise your whole body rather than just that wee head for the first time! :).

    I am unshowered, in trackies, basket of washing still sitting beside me. This was was how my work from home day started and it has ended in exactly the same fashion. That was not the plan.

    May try for a sick day so I can actually get something done 😉

  21. Sarah

    I believe we agreed when I got off the phone from you we’d do the same thing. I also failed spectacularly. Instead I sorted flight details, did 2 loads of washing, sent several emails, sent off questions for an interview and made several suddenly urgent calls. Clearly I’m as good as sick days as you. We’re awesome failures aren’t we?

  22. Allison Rushby

    Ah, yes. Sick days don’t really happen when you work for yourself, do they? My ‘sick day position’ is standing over the medicine box working out what combination of painkillers I can have that will see me keep on truckin’.

    Interesting to hear about the hospital admissions — that’s the only real, proper rest I’ve had in the last 7.5 years. Always have to be dragged out of the place kicking and screaming! Sure, you’ve got to put up with pneumonia or whatever, but food delivered, linen done, cable TV… what’s not to like?

  23. Cate

    I remember my first ever sick day after my eldest was born. I rang hubby and asked him to come home…crickets…apparently the entire board had flown down from sydney to meet him.
    At least the big lunchy-thing (that he’d even bought a new tie for) was over by the time I called him from hospital a couple of hours later as I was about to have my appendix out!
    But generally I find cold and flu tablets and a good cry does the trick 🙂

  24. therhythmmethod

    I haven’t been sick in a while (cue: illness. Check back with me in a day or two).
    My worst bouts of illness have been during pregnancy and resulted in hospital admission. Anything less than hospital admission involves trying to amuse the kids while not doing much. ABC Kids is a winner in this respect.
    I would kill for a doona day.

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