What comes first… The chicken or the childcare?

Hey Mama,

I’ve been scouring the internet for a great article to address the current childcare and workforce dilemma working mothers are facing at the moment. Quite frankly, there aren’t any that fully address all of the issues mothers are up against. How could they?

As a mother myself, I fully understand the predicament many women are navigating in regards to the intersection of work and school decisions . In fact, I’d venture to say that many women feel paralyzed when it comes to making the right choice when it comes to determining their children’s childcare and school decisions at this point in time. I thought I’d take a stab at what I see are the current issues at hand, and at least attempt to offer up some options. I’m not sure how I’ll do with this, but here we go.

Prior to the Pandemic, 72% of mothers were in the workforce or were searching for a job (The Conversation). That’s 3 out of 4 women. As of July 16, 2020, this pandemic has seen women’s participation in the workforce drop to a 3 decade low. That is a staggering statistic.

For those women who are lucky enough to still be gainfully employed, many are also working from home. Normally, working from home is a dream scenario. However, during this current time working from home comes with its own set of issues if you are a parent. Especially, if you are a mother.

Current data shows that moms working from home during quarantine are only getting in about 2.6 hours of uninterrupted work done per day on average. If they’re getting more done than that, its usually prior to their children waking up or after everyone goes to bed. In addition to their workloads, women are dealing with additional household duties, extra meals to prepared, extra grocery shopping to be done, and zero downtime. It’s easy to see why working moms are sinking. From an observational perspective, its clear that this situation is simply NOT sustainable.

With that being said, it’s evident that with the school year swiftly approaching we all have some choices to make in regards to how we move forward from here. Do we quit our jobs and become full-time homemakers, or should we send our children back to school and continue down our career paths? Can we even afford childcare now? Can our husbands quit their jobs? Should we look at ways to lower household expenses, and try to sustain the new normal? These are tough choices, and in cases when job-loss or furloughs have effected your income, it can feel as though other people are making decisions for you.

Due to the pandemic, many mothers have either lost their jobs or been forced to quit because of a lack of childcare options. Even the most motivated woman that has the desire to go back to work may not be able to do so without having adequate childcare in place. This is a HUGE problem. Women need money to pay their bills. They depend on jobs to get money, and you can’t go to work unless you have childcare. You can’t have childcare unless you have money. So, what comes first, the chicken or the childcare?

I discussed this issue at length with two women recently, and we came to the conclusion that THE CHILDCARE MUST COME FIRST. There’s simply no way around it. Even if you need to interview, you have to have some sort of childcare lined up. So, what are your options?

Family – This is always the first line of defense right?

This could be your Mom, Aunt, Sister, Dad, or any other trustworthy family member capable of caring for your little peeps. However, for many of us this is simply not an option. Our closest family members live 2 hours away, so when we utilize a family member for babysitting it’s for a very special occasion, and is for a limited period of time.

Pods – This is a NEW option I had NEVER heard of prior to Covid.

This is where families hang out and care for each other’s kids. I actually really like this idea. Its a throwback to the ole “it takes a village” mentality.

Nanny Share

This is an arrangement in which two or three families hire a nanny and share the cost associated with childcare. I really like this idea as well, but I have a feeling it could get a little messy unless you’re all on the same schedule and live close to one another.

Daycare – Either full-time or part-time, or you could even do a Parent’s Day Out program if you’re working from home. Some help is better than no help, am I right?

Dedicated sitter – A sitter just for your kids on specific days.

Au Pair – A live in arrangement in which a person from a foreign country lives with you to take care of your children.

Live-in Nanny – No explanation necessary

School – For school-age children

The reality is that many parents are on the struggle bus right now. They’re struggling to pay their bills, to keep up with their household duties and work responsibilities simultaneously, and struggling to educate their children. It’s insanity. It’s simply too much. From where I sit, it seems to me that this pandemic has pointed out a few deficiencies of modern life. The most apparent and most needed relic of the past that would be most helpful is the village. Where the heck did our village go? If grandma still lived at home and your aunt was around the corner this pandemic may not have been that bad. Unfortunately though, that is not the world in which we live.

The goal with this post is to give you tools to make the best decision for your family. We all have unique needs and concerns that we must all tailor to our own families. I encourage you talk with your pediatrician, to read the recommendations the American Academy of Pediatrics has put forth. Also, you should definitely read any and all information you can get your hands on in regards to how children are doing with their return to school in other countries. Many other nations have already sent their kids back to school, so there is a lot of data to go on at this point.

As I wrap it up, I want to encourage you to be kind to moms that are doing it differently than you. We’re ALL having a hard time with this, so keep in mind that all moms are doing what’s best for their families, and they have the right to raise their children the way they see fit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!


The Mom's Career Guide

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