I just got my annual leave and vacation statement and it appears that I have over 80 days of accrued sick leave. The problem with sick leave for a houseparent is that it is virtually useless. After 12 years I have used sick leave exactly 4 times, once for my emergency appendectomy, and three times for family sick leave that my wife and I took together for various things like surgery for our son, and when her mother was in the hospital.
Last week I had hernia surgery, and with the exception of the 7 hours I was in the hospital, missed zero work time. I was home at 5:00 that evening making pizza for supper and did my school run the next morning. There were things I couldn’t do and in those cases my wife picked up the slack for me. Yesterday and today, my wife has been sick with some sort of bug that gives her the chills, makes her vomit, and generally feel like crap, yet she remained at work, did what she could and I just picked up the slack.
The problem with being a houseparent and getting sick, is the hassle it would be to try and take sick leave.
In our situation, if one of us wanted to take sick leave we would have to pack a suitcase and leave the cottage, and if we tried to stay, the kids would just bug us anyway. We don’t have private quarters attached to the cottage that we could just go to. In fact, my wife and I are better off than most of the other houseparents here, because we have our house that is set up for “US” all of the time. We don’t have to try and get space in the relief apartment, which means packing groceries, hauling linens, making beds, etc.
However, even if we had private quarters attached to the cottage we could just go to, it’s not like they are going to send a replacement to cover for the sick houseparent. It would just mean that the well houseparent would have to do everything by themselves. You might be able to get help with taking a child to an appointment during normal business hours, but other than that you would be on your own. That’s just how it is. Every houseparent I have ever talked with has said the same thing.
The best thing a houseparent can do is not get sick. Do what you can to be healthy. Wash your hands, eat right, exercise. Find ways to reduce stress. Take your days off (when you can get them), but keep saving up those sick days, they come in really handy for major things like heart attacks, strokes, mental breakdowns, etc. – those are about the only things you can really use them for.