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Dealing with Co-workers Who Don't Plan Ahead for Childcare

Summer is almost here, which means at least one of your co-workers will realize they still haven't planned out their summer childcare arrangements, and all of the day camps are full. Oops. Let's talk about the co-worker whose childcare arrangements are always last-minute and leaving you in a lurch at work!

The summer months only seems to exacerbate your co-worker's childcare quandary. Summer becomes ten calendar weeks of watching this co-worker desperately try to cobble daycare together. You can't help but wonder why this co-worker never plans well in advance for summer break -- or winter break and teacher workdays. (We'll get to that later in the post.)

Childcare is a topic many working professionals don't want to talk about, but hard feelings between colleagues can result when it's planned poorly. So what can you do as a work peer who is trying to make sure projects stay on track?

Tips For Making Summer Work At Work
While you can't force this colleague to plan (and pay) in January for something starting in June, there are a few things you can do:

1. Set some boundaries. What are the limits of your helpfulness on the job? Let this colleague know your boundaries. I can take your calls after you leave at 3:30, but I can't stay until 5:30 waiting for your client to drop something off. Good communication is key.


2. Say something. You see summer quickly approaching on the calendar. Work out a plan with this colleague for covering the workload until September. Be up front about what needs to happen on a weekly basis to keep things moving along. Here, watch this video. It's awesome.

3. Accept credit for a job well done. Management is handing out kudos for a job well done, and you're getting a big round of applause! Your working-parent colleague, however, seems upset that you are receiving the lion's share of the credit. Ah, now we get right down to it, don't we? Don't apologize; you've earned this moment and you deserve all the kudos you're getting. Congratulations!

4. Be fair to yourself. I remember the (childless/child-free) days of working a job where a co-worker with kids would drop a well-placed "But I have kids" to reason why they could never work weekends. (Guess who worked weekends.) Strive to be fair, but be fair to yourself, too. Your time is just as valuable. Refer to Tip #1.


5. Offer childcare suggestions if you have any. You know of a great nanny, you've heard of a great day camp, you know somebody who is "in the know" about these things. Put this co-worker in touch with them, stat. Finding good childcare can feel very overwhelming and it's also expensive, which can lead some parents to procrastinate. Most parents welcome ideas from people they know.

Flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, can work as well, but that's a management decision and your workplace might not be a good fit for telecommuting. Bottom line: be kind, be helpful, be understanding in a pinch but don't be a doormat and make sure to communicate your needs to this colleague. Oh, and enjoy the summer!


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