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Virtual Sick Days – By Nicole Perkins

By Nicole Perkins

At any given time I have up to six projects going at once, all with different deadlines, and some without any concrete parameters. Now I will admit, I could be better at time management, but really moms, couldn’t we all? We just don’t have enough time in the day!

Nonetheless, I am a stickler for deadlines and rarely miss them. I work well under pressure, wrote many of my best papers in college with Mountain Dew and noisy roommates, watching the sunrise as we fought over who got the shower first. And I loved working in a newsroom (before the kids) – strict deadlines and a chain of command for days to remind you of it.

These days though, it’s Diet Mountain Dew, an occasional 3 a.m.’er, and none but the voice in my head pushing me along. Which is all well and good – as long as I’m healthy.

This past week, while my husband was on week two of a business trip, I got sick – really sick. It took everything I had to keep this house functioning until I could collapse into bed at night. Forget about working – I was up late, but for all the wrong reasons.

I didn’t handle it well, I’ll admit it. My energy was already drained from being a temporary single mother – and now this virus. And I didn’t have just one boss to “call in sick” to, but three (not to mention the people counting on them), which wreaked even more havoc on my already depleted psyche. I felt like I was letting not only my kids down with cheap frozen dinners, but the people who were counting on my work.

Now that the fog has lifted and I try to pick up where I left off, I realize as a virtual assistant, there are no day-to-day exchanges with colleagues, who whether they like you or not, know what is going on with you as a person. We are not a face and most times, not even a voice. No one can see your gaunt skin and sunken eyes when you’re sick – there are no sick days.

It’s a new “workplace environment” where we are only our work, yet I was so genuinely grateful and relieved to discover that although we may not be face to face, there is still kindness, compassion and understanding. Being a virtual assistant may seem lonely at our computers with email as our only communication, but we’re all in the same boat – trying to take care of our families while making ends meet and I’m so glad to be a part of it. 

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