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Working Mom Dilemmas

I’m sure you know by now, but I am a working mom. I am a nurse, and I work for a big  hospital system here in Atlanta. For the most part, this is a good thing. I work 3 days a week. I have healthcare. My job can fun, interesting and challenging.


I work 12 long hours when I work. That means that sometimes, I only know it’s daylight from looking out of my patient’s window. I work weekends, I work holidays. My job is hard on my body( you try turning a 500+ pound patient who is dead weight due to an epidural), I stand all day, I barely have time to pee, I get dehydrated( due to a new policy where we can’t drink at the nurses station) and sometimes I don’t get lunch.  Oh, and the cost of my healthcare goes up every year.

And now, on top of all that, my job has instituted a new attendance policy.

Get this: You can only call in 4 times in a rolling calender year.

Marinate on that for a moment.

The way most hospitals here do it, your time off and sick days are rolled into one big bank. There is no difference.  So if you call out sick at lot, you have no vacation time.  I know a nurse last year who had the flu. She had a documented Doctor’s excuse.  BUT, because she called out so many times because she couldn’t get out of the bed,  they wrote her up. Why? Attendance policy says 4 call outs. And on top of that, she couldn’t go on her planned European vacation without time off. Because she had used it all up being sick.

Another scenario: Say you are a working mom like me, and you have a young toddler.  Toddlers get sick. Toddlers have to be fever free for 24 hours before they go back to school. Toddlers can not stay home by themselves.  My toddler, has the additonal benefit of having allergies, wanna be asthma and chronic ear infections.   That’s four days gone during allergy season alone.

Now, to be fair to my job, after that four call outs, you get a warning. But when you get to six, you are fired.

Once again, marinate on that for a minute.

Sooo, as a working mom, I have a delimma. There are many many days where I have a migraine, I have gasrointesinal issues, womanly issues, I’m sick with a cold, or I just don’t feel good. And what do I do? I take my ass on to work because basically, I have no choice in the matter.  Because I’ve got to save my days for when my child is sick. And oh, did I forget to mention that it specifically says in this new policy that “a sick child is not an excuse”?


Now, I can hear you saying, what about C-Dub LaShawn, can’t he stay home with Pookah sometimes??? Yes. And he does. But even he can’t do it all the time.  His time off builds from month to month.  If he works from home, he actually has to work. Not take care of his sick kid.  He calls me all day long at work with updates and “what should I do” questions.

We try to rotate it, but if Pookah has a bad season, I’m the one who looses out. Because you just know, Pookah is going to pass his little germs on to his parents. Who are now out of days because they’ve been home with him.

So I and my fellow nurses dope ourselves up and take our butts on in to work, praying that we last 12 hours of hard physical labor while popping tylenol and dayquil to keep fevers and coughing at bay.

I’m writing about this today because it bugs me. We are approaching flu season around here, and I am scared. You see, I am at the 4.  Because we have a rolling year, I drop one of those call outs this month and will be down to 3 again. But what if the fall allergy system hits Pookah hard like the spring one did? What if I get sick? What if any of us catches the flu? I’ll be out of a job with two more call outs.

And that my friends, is some bull shit.

My job isn’t allowing for the ‘what ifs”. It isn’t allowing for working mothers and that flexibility that nursing is known for.  They just rolled out a blanket policy and said here. This is what we’re doing. Deal with it.  Sure, if I had family near by, this wouldn’t be an issue. But I don’t. It’s just me and CDub.

And no one at my job seems to care.




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  • Reply
    September 21, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Damn. That sucks. At my old job we had the bucket and it always felt good because you knew you had the cushion. What kind of big wigs at the top were thinking when they created this. That is really some unfair crap. Are there some other hospitals in the area that cater more to a work/life balance? My husband works for Children’s Healthcare and I know they are big on that. As a manager there are times when he has to let things slide for that very reason as long as it was documented.

    If it ain’t one damn thing its another.
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    September 21, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Yeah, that’s a terrible policy. It upsets me when big corporation make up policies that don’t take the employees into consideration at all. They would rather you all come in sick and continue to pass germs around. I remember when I had my children one of my managers told me that this company wasn’t family friendly. WTH?? We had to use our vacation time because we didn’t get sick days. Wishing you the best, this is a hard one.
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    September 21, 2012 at 9:51 am

    That is indeed some bullshit
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    September 21, 2012 at 11:39 am

    That is so messed up. You would think since you’re in the healthcare system, that they would want their employees to be healthy. Just a though there. But that policy is so messed up. I know nurses has to put up with a lot of BS (doctors who push you around–if you don’t push back, and patients who you just want to strangle–sometimes), but you wouldn’t think that they system is that messed up.

    It doesn’t even seem like you’re catching a break. I’m hoping that this fall season is not going to be hard on you or your family. In these hard times, every paycheck counts.
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    September 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Oh wow. I know a girl who use to work for Southern Regional she wasn’t a nurse but she got fired because 2 of her kids were sick at the same time and she had to stay home with them she is a single parent. It’s sad what are people suppose to do…..
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    September 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    OH WOW ((HUGS))
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    September 22, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Wow. That’s just horrible. My guess is the peeps that wrote this policy are childless and possibly male. 🙁
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    September 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    I’m sorry babe, (((HUGS))) companies just don’t care about families.
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    September 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I seriously want to punch your job in the face.
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    September 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    This is so horrible and an unfortunate reflection of our economy. This leaves absolutely no breathing room for you much less your child to be ill. Forget it if your husband gets sick. I’m so through with these job policies that do absolutely nothing for working moms. I work full time as well and I feel your pain to my core. Four days is not even close to what you need for you and your family. I pray you have a season that is illness free.
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    September 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    At one of my dad’s employers, if you called in sick one day, it was 1 instance. If you called in sick the very next day, it was still 1 instance. On day 3, you absolutely had to have a doctor’s note, but it was STILL one instance. I’ve always thought that was the smartest way to do it. They had a limit, and it was low, but still, an illness that lasted longer than 24 hours wasn’t the end of your career.

    I’m sorry your employer is not family friendly.
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    October 8, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Agreed….this is some bullshit! I wish you could see me legal mind working trying to figure out if this is even legal, but I’m sure it is. Which is some even bigger bullshit!

    I definitely feel for you. As you know, my mom is a nurse, and she had these same issues. Fortunately for her, there was a house full of adults to take care of me when disaster struck. But everyone doesn’t have that, and I think it is highly insensitive to put working mom’s in this position. I co-sigh with you!
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    Nicole P.
    October 28, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Whoa! That is messed up! Are they trying to incite a riot among nurses? These types of policies make no sense and destroy the working environment. This is why nurses burnout so quickly. Nurses as a profession get shat on all the damn time and it really pisses me off. Do you guys have a union? What’s the policy on forming one? I’d probably look into working elsewhere. This system clearly doesn’t value their employees. Thank god nursing is needed. I’m sorry you have to deal with this.
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