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It’s a trajectory familiar to many caregivers: When your loved one first becomes sick, your colleagues offer sympathy, and many volunteer to take on some of your responsibilities when you take time off. But if they don’t have experience with chronic illness, they may not understand the amount of time and attention that caregiving requires. As your loved one’s condition advances and you’re still missing work or leaving early, they might assume you’re getting special treatment, and if they have to cover for you, resentment can build.
It’s understandable that your colleagues may become frustrated when your loved one’s needs impose on their workloads, but you can take steps to minimize the tension.
Anticipate absences. If you know in advance you’ll be taking time off, complete projects or get them to stages where others will have minimal work. Keep detailed notes about status and remaining tasks to make it easy for anyone who needs to step in.
Divide and conquer. When you do need to rely on colleagues to shepherd a project to the next step or complete an assignment, try to avoid imposing on the same coworkers every time.
Focus on business. Be sure the time you spend at work is devoted to work. Your colleagues will be more willing to pick up any slack if they don’t hear you on a long, chatty phone call or see that Facebook is open on your computer.
Keep your boss as an ally. Supervisors want to know that the work is getting done, and they don’t like surprises. When you speak to your manager about your caregiving responsibilities, be honest. Let her know when you’ll need time off, how much time you’ll need, and how you can be reached. Try to present a plan that shows how you expect to manage your workload while you’re out. (If you have no idea or haven’t had time to think this through, ask for her help—don’t ignore a potential problem and hope you’ll come up with a plan later.)
To find out how VNSNY can help you care for your family member, please call 1-800-675-0391.