When the Wheels Come Off: Poorly Child Versus Work Commitments

05/06/2015 12:43 BST | Updated 05/06/2016 10:59 BST

In an ideal world the minute that a child is unwell or unhappy we would drop everything and tend to them completely. But it is not always that easy, especially when one is self-employed. This week the wheels literally and proverbially fell off in our house. Not only was I drowning in work, my nearly three-year-old had one of those non specific childhood viral illnesses where she was too ill to go to nursery but after a spoonful of medicine was completely fine and therefore required constant activity. And as we headed to the park for some fresh air the front wheels came off my (three year old) Baby Jogger City Mini pushchair and we all tumbled into the road.

There were no cars coming and youngest was strapped in so although she was hanging upside down for a few seconds no harm was done. In fact she seemed to quite enjoy this unexpected turn of events. But then after about two steps she refused to walk home - naturally - and I was left trying to lug a broken pushchair, carry a rather heavy pre-schooler and hang on to the dog. I was half expecting to trip over and twist my ankle or tread in a massive dog poo (as my eldest had that very morning in fact) but I made it home in time for a prearranged call. This was another mistake and led me to write a helpful list of Dos and Don'ts of trying to work at home with a mildly unwell child.


  • Try to carry on as normal. Two year olds have no interest in, or patience for your work commitments.
  • Conduct important phone calls. As I began a call the little one began crying loudly "I want to do my work, get off my 'puter. It is my 'puter, mine...wa wa wa"
  • Expect the husband to take a day off. By day three I did ask. "Can you take a leave day - I have deadlines?" He looked at me as if I had just suggested that we all go and live on the Mars. Inside his head I think it looked like this "What are these words that you just said? Did you ask me for help? Pardon? What? Me, not go to work? But I have important things to do. I can't work from home like you."
  • Assume that because they are now in perfect health they will want to return to nursery after five days at home with Mummy. They might refuse to get dressed, throw their shoes at you, cling to the car seat and then cry. You might cry too (a bit).
  • Try and fix the broken pushchair yourself when your husband is an F1 mechanic that can change a tyre in less than two seconds. You might lose one of the important bits and unintentionally make it worse.


  • Call Grandpa for help who initially will ignore his phone because it sounds like the alarm on the fridge that means the door has been left open, but then after five rings he realises and comes to the rescue
  • Let them play Peppa Pig's Birthday Party on the tablet for an hour so that you can get some work done
  • Set them up a little desk of their own and tell them that they have important work to do just like Mummy.
  • Save the important stuff that requires maximum concentration for when they are asleep
  • Have lots of cuddles on the sofa and count your blessings that your little one is not really that poorly after all

Next time: From Russia with Love: Why I love it when my husband leaves the country