Articles/anec-data dealing with COVID-19 working/parenting at home?
April 20, 2020 8:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm feeling... unseen right now as a person in a partnership where both of us have equal (online, non-"essential") work responsibilities and pay, who have a young child to manage during this time. I'm not the only one here... right? right?

I know there are many other versions of this scenario that are much worse, harder, way more unfair, and downright dangerous. I'm super lucky and privileged and our marriage-partnership and family bond is holding strong and our bodies are healthy. But I also know there have to be others in this weird work/life scenario and I'm hoping to gather some voices and stories to feel better about myself and maybe learn how to advocate better for myself at work.
Examples include...
Are others in this situation getting the nagging feeling that the "heros" getting recognized in our non-essential workplaces are the ones without kids, or who have partners who are the default/primary child-caretaker?
Or are being shown "helpful" examples from fellow employees or similar work environments doing "more" or "better" as a way of implying "why can't you manage to do this too?"
Or are you getting the sense that people are wondering why you don't just put your kid in front of a screen all day so you can get more work done?
And are your workplaces publicly emphasizing importance of mental health and family functioning while also quietly implying that you need to do whatever it takes to do your damn job as close to how you did it before as possible?
And are your workplaces vaguely implying that your job and salary are "mostly" safe, in a short-term uncertain kind of way, while continuing to expect that you should work to your absolute full capacity, whatever it is, but it's still probably not enough?
Did anyone else naively think you would slowly get used to this way of living and things had to get easier, but it is in fact slowly getting harder and more exhausting?
And also.... how are you dealing with the horrible guilt of knowing your child-free & caretaking-free coworkers really truly are working harder and more because you simply can't?
Or is this just all my own anxiety/depression/uncertainty projecting onto everything around me?

The closest and maybe most helpful I've found in my own searching is this from Ask A Manager from a boss perspective about parent workers, and a followup from a childless employee's perspective.
posted by wannabecounselor to Human Relations (28 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I wish I had a more nuanced perspective than this, which is: I am sad and more than a little angry that you are in this position, that your work is putting you in this position, that so many people are undoubtably in a similar position. I'm self-employed, child-free, and answering only to sporadic client communication right now and some days productivity—I'm talking, like, answering three emails—feels like a monumental struggle. Because, well, it all feels pretty goddamn pointless.

We are in a holding pattern. We have no idea, really, what will happen next. From the macro level of the entire world economy (not to mention human health!) all the way down to the micro of individual jobs—and even then your workplace is only vaguely implying that you will still have a job in the near-term.

So, what if you just said fuck it? Just let yourself be unproductive at your job. Let your bosses and coworkers look down on you for being unproductive. Let yourself be laid off, even. Go out in a blaze, calling them out for spouting platitudes about "mental health" and "family" that they don't actually believe.

I know it takes privilege to even envision a jobless future where everyone in your family still manages to be housed and fed. But your work does not own your soul. Maybe there is a better way to live through this.

I'm starting to think that behind the memes about everyone suddenly learning how to bake bread is a deep recognition—a part of us that knows the system is failing, either incrementally or much more quickly than we could have ever imagined. And we need to learn how to bake our own bread.

I wish you all the best in navigating this, and will watch this thread with interest for others' productivity stories from this strange time.
posted by gold bridges at 9:32 AM on April 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

Short answer: yes, I feel this way.

Slightly longer answer with a important qualification: I felt this way before coronavirus too. I’ve struggled with balancing kids and work literally since my first kid was born three and a half years ago. I’ve had a few jobs since then, and at all of them, I felt like I was being evaluated negatively because I couldn’t give the same time others could, because I’d sometimes have to leave the office early to pick up a sick kid, or whatever. I can list the stupid crap: I had a project manager ask me if I could reschedule a pediatrician’s appointment when my kid had a fever because we had a status meeting at the same time, and when I said that I couldn’t, she asked if I could join the call from the waiting room. I was answering work emails from the hospital while my wife was in labor with our second kid. I mostly missed his first holiday festivities because I had a bunch of projects due at the beginning of the year and I had to work weekends to finish them instead of taking him to see Santa for the first time. I had one co-worker who was working so much and contributing so little at home that his wife quit her job to be a stay at home mom. One of my old managers had a kid a week before I did, but was working 80 hour weeks and not seeing his kid. He went to our VP and explained that he’d like to find a way to work fewer hours, and the VP’s response was literally “well, maybe this isn’t the right job for you”. He got demoted, which is why I referred to him as a former manager.

All of this stuff was before coronavirus. The virus has probably exacerbated tensions, but it didn’t cause them. The cause is wage slavery and exploitative employers. As long as companies only care about maximizing efficiency, workers will be forced to choose between their jobs and their personal lives. Childless workers face the same pressures - how many times have you heard a co-worker complain about not having time to go to the gym, or to pursue a hobby? It’s just not as bad because those things are things they *can* stop doing. Parents can’t forget about their kids, though, so you’re stuck.

One of the things you hear or read in all media about working during the pandemic is that “it’s ok to not be at 100%”, but in my experience and the experience of people I know, that hasn’t been the case. I’m still working weekends to keep up. My wife is working 12-hour days (she’s a therapist - business is unfortunately booking). One of the things I hope comes out of this is that maybe employers will get more understanding about their employers’ lives outside of work, that we aren’t just robots who exist to serve their needs. I’m not holding my breath or anything, but if there’s anything that can make it happen, this is it.

In the meantime, I’m really sorry you’re going through this. It sucks, and you shouldn’t have to feel this way. It’s helpful to have someone to vent your frustrations to (and if you don’t have someone, memail me), and even though it probably doesn’t seem like the best time, you should probably start looking for another job that will give you better balance. But whatever you do, don’t let your inner monologue talk you into thinking you’re the problem. You are absolutely not the problem. You’re doing a great job, and your family undoubtedly appreciates what you’re doing. Take care of yourself and be proud of all you do in all aspects of life.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:42 AM on April 20, 2020 [23 favorites]

We've started a parenting/homeschooling group at my job. There's a (weekly for now, might be more frequent depending on wants) drop in and chat open zoom for parents to just rant with each other (basically) or share tips on how they're handling things. The homeschooling group is open to everyone, even people without school age children, for homework help, etc. There's a group for people with older children to set up Zooms for their kids to read to other coworkers' younger children. It's company-encouraged parent to parent support.

The company has also been putting out a TON of wellness/mental health/coping information and encouraging people to take vacation days. HR has been signal boosting a lot of the benefits we already have so people know what's available to them, and reaching out individually to anyone who has mentioned that they're struggling.

I'm the only one my team who doesn't have small kids. I get on calls with my coworkers for meetings and they're constantly interrupted for screaming applesauce demands, etc. One guy held a call while his toddler was literally climbing him like a mountain. It's just reality now. People are doing their best. No one is judging too hard right now.
posted by phunniemee at 9:58 AM on April 20, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Have you seen this article? The Parents Are Not All Right. Reading it made me feel a little better that others are going through the same things.
But, I warn you, do NOT read the comments. They made me feel like a terrible parent and I was depressed about it for days.
posted by CiaoMela at 10:26 AM on April 20, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Anne Helen Peterson did a broad survey on parenting and quarantine.

Anyway, I'm in the same boat. Working while my son plays at loud volume right behind me. I am fortunate to have a pretty compassionate employer, but my workload still remains the same.
posted by toastyk at 10:34 AM on April 20, 2020 [3 favorites]

Yep I am right there with you! I had to drop my hours to part time so we could keep some sanity at home. My husband's a teacher so he doesn't have much flexibility about reducing his workload or changing his hours, at least until summer break. It makes my chest hurt to think about the fact that I gave up full-time status at the great engineering job that I've worked so hard for but here we are.

My kids are OK but I am really struggling.
posted by beandip at 10:50 AM on April 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

And also.... how are you dealing with the horrible guilt of knowing your child-free & caretaking-free coworkers really truly are working harder and more because you simply can't?

two things:

you DO NOT "know" that your unchilded co-workers are, unsupervisedly, working harder than you just because they can. they aren't monstrous work-loving robots, so why the hell would they? completely independent of any different or lesser stresses they may have! I am an unchilded worker and can't say too much, because of prudence. but I assure you that we do not love work or love to seize the opportunity to do more work than other people, and when nobody is watching, nobody is watching. Many of them probably feel twice the guilt because they don't even have children to point to as a legitimate reason for perceived unproductivity.

those people you reference who do have children but have spouses -- let's call them wives, just for fun -- who do all the childcare, but still get treated as heroes -- fuck those guys. redirect your guilt into resentment. they won't know you resent them so it won't hurt them any.

the second thing is just please be careful about belatedly adding in a token reference to caretaking along with child-rearing, there at the end. I don't think that having a painfully dying or totally (or partially) incapacitated relative or spouse at home is the kind of thing people talk about at work as freely as they talk about having children. You might not know which of your co-workers this applies to, unless you are very close with all of them.

that is not to try to make you feel guilty, you have nothing to feel guilty for.
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:17 AM on April 20, 2020 [23 favorites]

My kids are older (youngest is 9) and I'm laid off, but I am here to tell you, your struggle is real. I'm doing a few things that are important and time-sensitive, and I'm still stressed out.

As for people judging you though, when I was in my 20s I judged people in my workplace all the time; I'm especially thinking of a stressed-out project manager who had a teenaged son. Childless/free people who judge you are not aware of the reality of parenting young children; parents who have raised 'easy' kids are not aware of the reality of parenting high-needs children, etc. It sucks, but the best you can do is let go of the idea that you deserve their judgement or that they have any true insight into the current situation. Basically no one has parented through a pandemic before (at least not in North America for quite a while).

Also, there are people struggling with things you don't know about. ADHD, caregiving, poverty, all kinds of things. Many of them are not parents.

Each of my children had a major health crisis before they were 5 and it did impact my career in smaller and larger ways, but it also pushed me to be even more effective and organized in the long run...hand foot and mouth disease embarrassed me in a meeting, but after that I got SUPER good at documenting where I was on things, etc. etc. I am also a much better, more compassionate team member and manager. I'm just fine to pitch in for people who are struggling, too. Your life is a long game.

P.S. you don't have to come out of this better. I'm just saying what I learned when I had similar feelings of inadequacy.

Your stress is real. Workplaces suck. Pressure to produce in a pandemic sucks. I don't know if this helps you, but I think of accounts I've read of historic events and I've never really sat down and said "why didn't Schindler make more money!" You know? Survival is all that counts, we are in a fight to keep people alive. That's it.

If your workplace is pressuring you to put your child in a playpen in front of a TV, it really sucks. I am sorry you are dealing with this. It's not you. It's them.

Stay strong.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:24 AM on April 20, 2020 [8 favorites] are you dealing with the horrible guilt of knowing your child-free & caretaking-free coworkers really truly are working harder and more because you simply can't?

No they aren't. No they aren't, because if you feel that kind of guilt it's because you're the kind of person who pours all of yourself into whatever it is you're doing. I don't care if "whatever it is you're doing" is playing dolls for five hours a day because there's nobody else to be a friend to the young sentient person you promised to care for*: that is work and it is hard. Maybe it takes its tolls in different ways than writing reports or taking calls or whatever it is that you usually do for money (that they've now tried to ram into your personal home and life instead of keeping contained in an office during hours that were compatible with routinely-available childcare and for an amount of money that compensated your time and effort in such an environment -- not the hybridized horror show that is "everything you always had to make sure happened, expect now all at once and without any help!") but that doesn't mean you're not doing your part for society. If your coworkers are also working harder than they ever did before, it's not your fault that this all stinks for them too. Everyone is working hard, including you.

* Oh wait no that's me.
posted by teremala at 12:02 PM on April 20, 2020 [8 favorites]

I'm not in your situation, but as an early 30-something who knows mostly white-collar professionals, this is the situation that the majority of people in my social circle are in. Both partners still have jobs and can work from home (until they get furloughed), but they have pretty significant childcare problems to deal with. Most have multiple young kids, or they just recently had kid #1 and had settled into a post-mat leave routine. They're all feeling it, even the ones who weren't the "primary" parent in regular times.

TBH though, depending on your company culture (particularly if they're very "family-friendly"), child-free and caretaking-free coworkers aren't going to be perceived as the heroes when all is said and done. For the short term, maybe. But when they get burned's going to be less justifiable. Remember that however much you feel like you're letting both your work and family down, the reality is that you are working very hard, and part of that hard work is culturally acceptable and visible (see queenofbithynia's point above).

Your unchilded colleagues may also be more susceptible to layoffs than folks with kids. Or maybe not! My point is that so much of the ground beneath the parent vs. child-free worker tension is shifting unpredictably. Everyone who's still employed is trying to do their best right now, even though one's best is probably like 20-30%. You don't need to feel guilty because, unfortunately, the battle lines are being redrawn in ways that are somehow unfavourable to everyone involved. Your colleagues without children get it, and they understand that this is an entirely different situation than, well, the other situations where they pull the short straw.
posted by blerghamot at 12:56 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

You are not alone and it is the situation that is terrible. Work/caregiving balance was an issue for many people before Covid, and is far worse for many now. Most people in my circle, including my partner and I, spend a non-insignificant number of our days feeling like we are doing a shit job of both work and parenting. We are lucky enough to have great (and not super young) kids, decent jobs and kind bosses and some days are still a complete trash fire! In our case our angst is more self-imposed than workplace imposed, though both our jobs are precarious in different ways and my future employment is dependent on my productivity. My direct boss is lovely but my overall workplace does spout a lot of self-care rhetoric when it is painfully obvious they mainly care about their bottom line. If some of the angst that you're feeling is from failing your own standards (as is mainly my case), that is something you can try and work on to feel less crappy about things.

I don't have much advice other than to try and use humour where you can, and be extra kind to yourself on the bad days. Do the things you need to do to relax and help you feel better (for me this is quiet time, going for walks, having baths, and distracting my brain by reading or playing video games). We try to mentally reset by telling ourselves that tomorrow is a new day and all we can do is try again. We also try to cultivate the mindset that EVERYTHING that gets done is something getting accomplished, even if our productivity (and our kids' learning) is way lower than it normally would be. Oh and ignore all media, social or otherwise, focused on parents' interactions with their kids who are not also trying to juggle full time work during the Time of Covid. There is a lot of "fun activities to do with your kids!" mommy-blogging type stuff floating around, and the standards being promoted (and often bragged about) are not doable for the vast majority of parents who are trying to do an acceptable amount of work. Hang in there!
posted by DTMFA at 1:25 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Your experience sounds totally normal to me! It sounds like what most of the people-with-children-but-not-wives I know are dealing with (and plenty of other people besides).

I don't have children but I do have significant caretaking duties that have (mostly coincidentally) ramped up during the COVID crisis, and you know what? I just super-appreciate those of my coworkers who are stepping up and doing lots of good work even though things are weird! I'm really glad that they're able (and willing) to do the work necessary to keep our team on track. I'm fortunate that I have a lot of confidence that my place of work and my boss have my back, which I know is not the case for everyone. Am I 100% sure that everyone at my work sees it this way? Is it possible that some of my team members are like, "Ugh, what is she even DOING? She's only committed like four lines of code since we switched to WFH!" I suppose. But whatever, if that's the way they feel they'll probably have to learn a hard lesson someday when something happens that throws a monkey wrench in their ability to perform at 100%.
posted by mskyle at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2020

What you are doing is more than plenty — it's herculean.
"This virus may be the anvil that broke the camel's back. A lot of women in this country were trying to keep a whole lot of plates in the air. All of it has come crashing down, and now there are also more plates falling from the sky, like crockery-hail.
It's plenty to just do the best we can keeping our loved ones safe and staying home so we don't endanger ourselves or others. It's more than plenty — it's herculean. "
posted by cynical pinnacle at 5:37 PM on April 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just started reading the"Here’s What Parents Dealing With Coronavirus Isolation Want You To Know" article by Anne Helen Petersen linked above: “I feel alienated from my friends without kids in a way that I really never have,” Kelsey, who’s from Texas, told me. “They’re all talking about how to deal with boredom and anxiety."

So, I think there's a possible strategy for mutual care work across different kinds of household types. If you have good friends who don't have kids, ask them if they can spare an hour or two or more a week to do enrichment activities with your kids via video conference.

My spouse and I have a standing Zoom appointment with our old housemates' kid at the same time, Mon-Fri. Daily works for us because we have one job between the spouse and me, and because we all lived together for three years, hanging out with them is like hanging out with family.

Zoom-mediated interaction with kids doesn't have to mean you are stuck staring at the screen. We read books out loud together (Cam Jansen series mostly since that's the hard copy series they have in the house and we can get ebook versions), do hands-on, pen-and-paper math together (the book Math Games Lab for Kids is great for the elementary school crowd). We're doing basic piano lessons since both households have a basic electronic keyboard: note reading*, rhythm reading, melodies like Somewhere over the Rainbow. Teaching piano is surprisingly not terrible over Zoom and it's delightful to see and listen to the kid sing and play piano.

Once we even danced to Beyonce together, and let me tell you, it was a highlight of my quarantine week to see the kiddo "run to the right to the right to right" all the way out of camera view and then run back the other way for "run to the left to the left." Kid-free friends may be more than happy to spend some of the endless quarantine time hanging out with kids. It's lonely at home, and seeing a fresh-faced kid snort at a silly chicken joke in a book is soul-nourishing and awesome and so much better than endlessly refreshing Twitter.

*Hence my earlier Ask this week on "how did I never hear about crotchets and minims before?"
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:13 PM on April 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's so hard.

My job is doing a lot of here's stress relief resources and here's the official policies. Otherwise it's figure it out yourself regarding the work/kid balance. They are offering summer hours which is basically work MORE 4 days a week for Friday afternoon off which seems really tone deaf to parents.
posted by typecloud at 5:03 AM on April 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the commiserating, I appreciate it all. And want to offer a couple of clarifications.

Without giving too much away, though I have a mostly office-type job, in my organization there's a lot of different type of jobs, including a residential piece, so there are clearly some people having to work more in place of those who physically cannot due to childcare or other reasons.

Also I seem to know an impressive amount of women in leadership roles who have children and yet... who are not really seeming to be on the same page as other working mothers, whether because they have a child-focused partner or spouse or are still utilizing childcare services in some form.

Finally I am also a person who chronically struggles with real life friends/connections/anxiety around this and I do have some solid ones but the idea of reaching out to my vast social network for online help is not really a thing that exists. I did actually try a couple of things like this that had lukewarm responses. But I am seeing this working for others and am truly glad for it!!
posted by wannabecounselor at 5:19 AM on April 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

Hopefully this comes across as solidarity. I have so many thoughts I could fill pages but I'll try to keep it short.

Modern work culture is extremely broken. We value business over production. If a higher up asks for a report and you work weekends to produce it but then no one actually uses the report for anything, somehow that's seen as being a hard worker and not an exploited worker being asked to do useless busywork to stroke management's ego and boost their career.

In a way, I'm very prepared for this situation because I've spent years working from home and establishing that I'll deliver when it counts but I'll say no to as much busywork as possible (and no, other people don't have to do that busywork — it just doesn't get done because it wasn't important in the first place). So here's how I'm dealing with it: since I've always done my job remotely in 10-20 hours per week, I've just backed it off to 5-10 hours per week. No one has noticed and I'm still producing plenty, because I'm mostly refusing to do busywork. Now I'm basically a SAHF for my kids while my wife's employer exploits her mercilessly. And she signs up for it over and over again because we live in a world where being seen as "a hard worker" is the most important thing. I'm not criticizing her, she's doing what she has to within the current system. Meanwhile I'm able to do the SAHF thing and squeeze in tiny amounts of work here and there because I've already established that I will say no and even today I deliver where it counts. I don't want to make my setup sound ideal, It's not exactly what I would choose. I'm still worried that I might be found out and let go. My days are not exactly what I signed up for. And I feel bad that our 3-year-old mostly has to entertain himself since the 10-month-old by necessity gets 90% of the attention, and naps are for work. But at least we've gone from "how on Earth will we make this work?" to "we're basically managing our responsibilities." We seem to be at a steady state, if not an ideal one.

(Aside: I know there are jobs where number of hours worked is strongly correlated with productivity, but If we are honest with ourselves that's true of more manual things but not true for most office jobs.)

In your situation I'd take a hard look at how much of your job is genuinely productive, and how much is jockeying to be seen as a hard worker in comparison to your coworkers, and think about whether you could let some of the latter go and still keep management happy. It may not be possible: everyone is so caught up in the idea that hard work is the most important thing (it's not! Output is!) so you may risk your job or career advancement by refusing the busywork. If that's the case then there's nothing to do but soldier on until you can get a new job at a sane place that understands boundaries.

So in summary, we've got a system full of internal contradictions, and while the real solution is systemic change right now our only option is trying to find our own sanity and make our own priorities, which may or may not be possible in your particular situation.

Sorry if any of this sounds dismissive or doesn't make sense, I'm dictating it while playing with two kids!
posted by Tehhund at 6:22 AM on April 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

I was beating myself up for being a moderately crap parent and spouse, and a thoroughly crap employee, over the first few weeks of this.
It really helped to take a "vacation/mental health" day, and try to have more 1:1 phone calls with people from work about work stuff. When I'm on a call, that time is blocked off from having to parent vs when I'm trying to compose an email and my spouse/kids see me as somewhat "available to be disturbed".
I am still being way less productive than I would be under "normal" conditions but I've now accepted that this is what WAHM looks like for me now and feel less guilt/shame/anxiety about it.
posted by dotparker at 7:02 AM on April 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

When I'm on a call, that time is blocked off from having to parent vs when I'm trying to compose an email and my spouse/kids see me as somewhat "available to be disturbed".
This is an excellent idea and we're doing basically the same thing. We already have a shared Google Calendar, and when one of us has a meeting scheduled we put it on that calendar along with an indication of whether we might be talking or are definitely only listening. That way the other knows they are parenting during that time and are unavailable for meetings or other work stuff, and the talking indicator tells us whether it's a "I can be interrupted briefly" meeting or an "absolutely no interruptions" meeting. It's not fun having to check both a work and a personal calendar for every meeting but it means we haven't had any surprises yet.
posted by Tehhund at 9:46 AM on April 21, 2020

I'll just throw in that this is the same dynamic that exists all the time for parents in this situation, but CV-19 has turned the dial up to 11 on it.

It's like a lot of things, where fault lines were already there but a crisis exposes them far more clearly.

In our society, we don't do nearly enough to support parents of children, especially young children.
posted by flug at 1:52 PM on April 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: “I just can’t do this.” Harried parents forgo home school (Gillian Flaccus and Jocelyn Gecker, AP, Apr. 21, 2020), As the lockdown bites, it's women who are taking the strain (Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian Opinion, Apr. 17, 2020), Dear Therapist: What’s Your Advice to Parents Whose Kids Are Stuck at Home During the Coronavirus Lockdowns? (Lori Gottlieb, Atlantic, Apr. 6, 2020)
posted by katra at 3:29 PM on April 21, 2020

Best answer: Two Parents. Two Kids. Two Jobs. No Child Care. And no end in sight. (Farhad Manjoo, NYT Opinion, Apr. 22, 2020), The Juggle of Working Motherhood, Trapped at Home As families adjust to this new reality, it’s often mom’s Zoom meeting that has to wait. (Jennifer Medina and Lisa Lerer, NYT, Apr. 22, 2020), ‘This Is Crazy’: 6 Kids, 1 Dog and a Mom With Covid-19 (NYT, Apr. 22, 2020)
posted by katra at 11:36 AM on April 22, 2020

Response by poster: I may use this thread for my personal collection of related material, hope that's alright? Anyway one of my favorite podcasts just summed up all of my feelings on this pretty well.
posted by wannabecounselor at 6:35 AM on April 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Life in lockdown is testing parents’ bandwidth, but there are ways to protect your mental energy (Jennifer Wallace, Vanessa Patrick, WaPo Perspective, Apr. 27, 2020), ‘It Was Just Too Much’: How Remote Learning Is Breaking Parents For the adults in the house, trying to do their own jobs while helping children with class work has become one of the most trying aspects of the pandemic. (Elizabeth A. Harris, NYT, Apr. 27, 2020)
posted by katra at 12:58 PM on April 28, 2020

Best answer: There's a related post on the blue: Professional women, childcare, and emotional labor in the pandemic.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2020

Response by poster: Why Is No One Talking About How Unsustainable This Is for Working Parents from Today's Parent
posted by wannabecounselor at 1:23 PM on April 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I did an AskMe a few weeks ago for tips.

As others mentioned, there are three major groups:

- People with no real obligations who are baking bread and learning new languages (if employed)
- People who have caretaking obligations done by someone else
- People who are now doing 8 hours more labor per day (more time at home = more dishes, more dirt, more mess, etc.)

My spouse and I are in the last group, and like most people we know in the same boat, we are grateful to have jobs but going slowly mad. I agree with the suggestion to resent the hell out of the parents who "seem" to be not sweating anything. After asking a few questions about childcare for these people, most of them either fessed up that their spouse does all the work, they have a live-in nanny, or they sent the kids to the grandparents. It seems that a lot more of my male friends than I expected just pulled the 1950s breadwinner card and dumped all the childcare on their spouse.

If we had childcare for our youngest, I would consider that to be a better luxury than a trip back in time to Paris pre-covid.
posted by benzenedream at 6:32 PM on May 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Forget Pancakes. Pay Mothers. (Kim Brooks, NYT Opinion, May 8, 2020) One lesson from the pandemic: Child care is work. And it should be compensated., A working mom’s quarantine life (Ellen McCarthy, Caitlin Gibson, Helena Andrews-Dyer, Amy Joyce, WaPo, May 6, 2020) This Mother’s Day, eight women balancing careers and kids concede that thriving is out of reach. Surviving is enough.
posted by katra at 2:28 PM on May 8, 2020

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