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When Your Child Is Sick

A child with a cold may cause ripples in your work life, but one with a chronic illness, such as diabetes or asthma  -- and his appointments and tests  -- can cause a tidal wave. To juggle it all, Kelly Brantman, director of work-life services at ComPsych, an employee assistance provider, suggests that you:

• Talk to your boss. Keep it professional and focused. Brief her about the specific things you can and can't do, such as business travel, overtime, and certain duties.

• Cover your bases. Line up a pinch-hitter at the office and make sure she and your manager have your contact information. Keep your files current and write down any details. Thanking your coworkers for their support can go a long way  -- when things quiet down, try to help them out in some way, or take on that extra project.

• Look for resources. Talk to your human resources department for advice on sick-child policies or the Family and Medical Leave Act. It's also a good idea to ask if your company has an employee assistance program. Through it, you may be able to get confidential short-term counseling or referrals for support services.

• Take care of yourself. The better you feel, the smoother the balancing act will be. Schedule a weekly exercise class or movie night, and ask for  -- and accept  -- help, such as having your husband or a relative take over at home while you enjoy time off.