When Was the Last Time You Took Time Off?

You and I both know the answer. It’s highly unlikely you have had anytime off unless you have family close by who are willing to take over child care for a day or two.

In fact, there usually are no sick days for moms in general.  And, if the truth be told, there are no real sick days for any woman who isn’t single and alone.

The real questions is . . .

SHOULD single moms take a sick day?

Before the industrial revolution, when more people were working in factories than on the farm, there were no sick days.  If you couldn’t do your chores, then you were really, really sick.

Women didn’t stop cooking and cleaning. Men didn’t stop tending to the crops and the livestock. If hunting was required, they went hunting. Children had chores to do as soon as they were responsible enough to do them – and that was a lot earlier in life than it is now.

The farm ran on the energy of the family. Unmarried children stayed home to work the farm with their family. When the men were married their wives came to live with the family. When the women were married, the family lost two hands and a strong back.

When someone “took to their bed” there was good cause. And, sometimes, they didn’t recover.

As cities grew and more people began working in factories, again you had to be VERY sick. There were no paid sick days or vacation days. Once people began to unionize they got better benefits, including sick days.

When you take a sick day, the implication is that you are sick. Your employer is concerned about productivity, health insurance rates and return on their investment. They have invested training, benefits and equipment in you. In exchange they want you to boost the company’s bottom line.

When I was working at a large children’s hospital the administration was so concerned about staff who might “call in sick” on big holidays, the rule was you couldn’t come back until you had a note from your doctor that you were too sick to work.

This was so wrong on so many levels.

In the first place administration communicated they trusted us about as far as they could throw us.  We were all Bachelor’s and Master’s prepared, board-certified nurses. The sick rate was low for the hospital when they put this rule into place.

In other words, the change in policy didn’t result in low sick day usage – it came after a great rate was established.

It was the end of December and I was scheduled to work the night shift on New Year’s Eve, the shift from 11pm to 7am. On December 30th I woke with a fever. I wasn’t scheduled until the next day so I rested all day and took every vitamin known to man.

On December 31st I woke with a fever of 104 degrees. Can you say sick?

Every bone in my body ached. I could hardly hold my head up and felt like death was an option I’d consider.

I called my boss and she said, “You’d better see a doctor or don’t bother coming back to work, ever.”

I had NEVER called in sick in the 2 years I had worked there. But, I had better see a doctor. Sigh . . .

So called the doctor’s office and they asked me NOT to come in with the flu.  I insisted. They sent me through a special doorway so I wouldn’t infect the rest of the waiting room and put me directly into a room . . . with what looked like a bed.

I crawled up on the exam table, laid down and didn’t move a muscle until the doctor came in . . . gown and mask in place.

“Why in the world are you here? Aren’t you a nurse? Don’t you know what you have?” he asked.

I would have loved to answer but it felt like my mouth wouldn’t work. He understood my mumbling about my director, wrote out an excuse note for me and told me the director should know better.

It was a sick day.

When your body rebels against the work, lack of sleep, stress, poor nutrition or lack of exercise, it sure makes you pay attention.

But, if you don’t have an employer paying for a sick day (or three) for you, what do you do?

As a single mom, you not only need time away from work, but also rest away from caring for your beautiful little ones.

The keyword in that sentence is REST.

Single moms (all moms!) need rest, refreshment, replenishment and rest. Yup, I repeated it twice. Whether your body is physically sick or your mind is emotionally exhausted, you need rest.

Do you take sick days? Probably not.

Should you? Most definitely YES!

When you care for yourself, you teach your children how to care for themselves. When they watch you get enough sleep, eat the right foods, drink enough water, take your vitamins and take care of yourself, they learn the value of their own health.

Do you take sick days?

If you fit the mold of most moms, you don’t.  But, there is value to yourself and the future of your children when you don’t fit the mold and find ways to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health.


Leave a Reply