Will the Pandemic Lead to a Better Childcare System?

“No matter how much money they had, no matter how much support they had and no matter where they lived in the US, everyone experienced childcare problems,” said Kayla Lebovits, CEO of Bundle Childcare, after speaking with dozens of parents. She added, “Every parent experienced gaps in childcare weekly, if not daily. It’s like this unanimous connector between all parents whether it’s long-term, short term or backup care.”

The childcare system was bad for everyone. The parents who use it, providers who work in it and organizations that benefit from it. Cost and complexity was high but outcomes were spotty at best.

And the numbers speak for themselves. Pre-Covid, most parents (72% of Mothers and 94% of Fathers) worked. And childcare breakdowns were estimated to cost US Employers over $4 Billion in lost productivity and working families over $8 Billion in lost wages annually.

Yet, somehow no one predicted the negative impact parents’ inability to work would have on the economy until schools and daycares closed. Suddenly, finding solutions to the childcare problem has become essential.

Childcare is a Patchwork of ‘Plan B’s’

When childcare failed, we blamed ourselves. Or sometimes, our kids or partners. Because the truth, that after years of education and training our careers rely on luck, after parenthood, is unsettling. Continue reading “Will the Pandemic Lead to a Better Childcare System?”

Care for the Caregivers: Work Flexibility in the Era of Covid

What Employers Need to Know

“…I am working 12 hour days right now remotely and barely have time to feed people let alone do a good job keeping the kids schedules organized.”

“Understanding from work that we need to reduce our hours to support homeschooling. And support our children.”

Since late March, over 1,000* parents, primarily Moms (94%) have anonymously shared the pandemic’s impact to their work and lives. Most are working from home (71%) without childcare or on-site schools for their children (70%.) When asked, ‘what should their employer change’ overwhelmingly, they want variations of the same theme, flexibility.

They need discretion over how many hours and when they work. Ideally, in the form of: flextime and/or hours, sick leave, increased personal and/or paid time off.

Captivity is Officially Over

“Longer lunch break since I’m not only catering to myself for lunch.”

“Flexibility for kid wrangling times.”

Work has always revolved around captive time. Usually in an office or building. And pre-Covid, we were paid for hours of Continue reading “Care for the Caregivers: Work Flexibility in the Era of Covid”

The States with the Most Childcare Sanity Will Surprise You

A book review and conversation with Motherland’s Author Leah Ruppanner

Covid has forced Mothers everywhere to reevaluate work/life tradeoffs. And without access to childcare or school, millions have left their jobs, despite the global recession. Because trying to work and care for kids full-time does not set anyone up to thrive. And like all living things, we need the right conditions to flourish. Leah Ruppanner, Author and Co-Director of the Policy Lab at the University of Melbourne, went in search of the ‘Motherlands’ for her new book. Those idyllic places with childcare sanity where Motherhood and work can coexist. What she found was surprising.

Mothers Are Opting Out in Record Numbers

Pre-Covid, life fit around the work calendar. And caregiving often fell into the hours before and after. Kind of. Work hours in most careers have increased in the past decade. Which makes finding space to care for our kids, parents or selves, a constant source of conflict.

Leah explained, “People believe, ‘I personally failed because I couldn’t make work and family work. And everyone else seems to be doing this great job’ but the truth of the matter is, that it’s a structural issue. If a woman working in Massachusetts or California, where childcare is $4,000 a month, was told Continue reading “The States with the Most Childcare Sanity Will Surprise You”

What Working Parents Want Their Managers to Know

Over 1,000* surveyed parents, primarily Moms (94%) were open about what they need from work for their productivity, wellbeing and happiness. Most (70%) have had their childcare disrupted by the pandemic and crave understanding. And yes, that includes more flexibility and control over their time so they can care for their children and themselves.

“Less check-in meetings. Just trust the job will get done.”

“…I still have the same 35-hour workload of meetings and manage staff and my husband is having to take over care for our one-year-old on top of his project-based work.”

“…In many ways I feel for my employer and understand that you can’t make exceptions for those with or without kids. However, I do think less meetings would be helpful and give parents flexibility on time. A four-day work week would also be great!”

“Lower expectations with lowered staff (had layoffs but same expectations). Offer more flexibility, (there’s) no need for 9 am to 5 pm in the digital world.”

Most parents can’t maintain the habits of overwork that are common in our culture. And non-stop work, wasn’t healthy or effective for peak performance anyway. But as the recession deepens, many choose to quietly endure Continue reading “What Working Parents Want Their Managers to Know”

Childcare Never Quite Worked Before. It’s Time for Something Better

Let’s not conflate childcare and school. Working parents need both and always have. It’s true, most Americans with children over the age of 5 have relied on school as their primary childcare. But, the frequent holidays and mid-afternoon pickup, meant it was a partial solution at best for most workers. And having a credentialed expert, to expand your child’s mind, is not the same as keeping them fed and entertained.

Covid-19 has disrupted childcare arrangements for the overwhelming majority of over 900 surveyed parents* (71%.) Despite their need to continue working (84%) mostly from home (72%) with their kids.

“Non-stop days of homeschool followed by long evenings/weekends of work and making sure kids eat healthy, learn, get outside and feel ok while balancing a very demanding job.”

“It’s the unknown. Will the kids go back in the fall? How to balance their work and mine…”

“The expectation that work output should not be impacted despite having to care for my child full time. I stay up really late every night now to fit in the work hours.”

“Not being able to send my child to school or activities while I work. I must keep my child home to protect the family from COVID, sacrificing my ability to Continue reading “Childcare Never Quite Worked Before. It’s Time for Something Better”

Self-Care Is the First Thing to Go in a Crisis

Nearly 400* parents shared anonymously how the pandemic is affecting their lives. This is the first in a series of updates with results.

“With the lack of childcare, I have no time to work or take care of our apartment. I earn a lot less than my husband and work for myself in an industry that has slowed down, so I have taken on the vast majority of the extra childcare and schooling. With only one kid and a small apartment with no yard, this feels like a full-time job! I love parts of it but would enjoy it more if I got breaks. The timeline is overwhelming.”

“My son is 3 and he DESPERATELY misses school and doing things with us. Both my husband and I work full time and cannot take shifts. We feel like terrible parents and terrible employees. For 14 hours a day. Every day. There is no break, nothing to look forward to, no sanity.”

We’re responding to epic change while doing more of everything. There’s more housework, childcare and involvement in activities for our kids. And more required to stabilize our work, families and communities. When the pandemic disrupted life, we didn’t know how long it would last. So, we eliminated self-care to make space for the added responsibilities. Unfortunately, COVID19 is just one of many threats to our wellbeing.

Establishing habits that support our mental and physical health can take years! In this crisis, it’s hard to even think about self-care but it’s critical to manage the stress that also harms our health. Most (61%) surveyed Moms report doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ caring for themselves.

The Pressure is Unforgiving

When asked ‘what’s been the hardest?’ in this pandemic the list of concerns is long and varied. Moms worry about everything from their own Continue reading “Self-Care Is the First Thing to Go in a Crisis”

Have You Taken Time Out of The Workforce?

The surprising little statistic about working motherhood

“No one in my local community had kids yet. My Mom, and Mother-in-Law, were Stay-At-Home-Moms. I worked for an investment bank. The childcare options in my area would have added an hour to my commute and taken a huge percentage of my take home pay. We weren’t necessarily in the financial position to do it, but I said (to my husband,) I can’t leave this baby,” explained Claudia Reuter, my former colleague and Founder of The 43% Podcast. “I stepped out,” she said. Claudia didn’t return to work until nearly 3 years later. Did you know, nearly half of Mothers make this decision?

Build Your Own Flexibility

Claudia said, “After my second child, 23 months later, I realized Continue reading “Have You Taken Time Out of The Workforce?”

How to be a Happier Parent? Embrace Self-Care!

Gratitude for our families doesn’t mean we’re always happy. Moms routinely give up self-care (yes including sleep) for the perceived greater good. We break so many promises to ourselves, that the excuses sound hollow, even inside our minds.  The consuming baby years, soon give way to demanding school-and-sport logistics. Finding free time feels like trying to breathe underwater. We grow distant from the passions that shaped our personalities. Over time, we forget how to have fun without our kids.

Most of us dwell in the land of never-done, a purgatory filled with managing email, picking up toys and cleaning the counters for the fifth time. It’s not surprising when, in most families, Moms are still responsible for all-things-children-and-household. Although it’s tempting to try to outsmart the to-do list, there’s a better way! I had the pleasure of speaking with KJ Dell’Antonia, Author and former Editor of the New York Times’ parenting blog, The Motherlode.

After writing about parenting, while raising four children of her own, she’s distilled practical wisdom about ‘How to Be a Happier Parent’ in her new book. Spoiler alert, carving out your happy is Continue reading “How to be a Happier Parent? Embrace Self-Care!”

4 Things You Need For Work/Life Integration from Mom’s Who Hustle

Notes From Attending ‘Moms Who Hustle’ A Practical Work/Life Discussion hosted by General Assembly Boston May 19th.

After rushing in to grab a front row seat, I took a few deep breaths to center myself just as the moderator began introductions.   A surprisingly diverse group looked expectantly at the panelists.

I later learned the eclectic mix of Moms, Pre-moms, Grandmothers and Dads braved the rainy commute and early start, eager to discuss the Mom work-life juggle, for different reasons.

Women feel more empowered (and compelled) than ever to hustle and Moms are no exception.

The artful choreography, to reduce clashes between the work and life schedules, becomes its own demanding project.  Last month, on the sidelines of my son’s soccer match, I watched a Mom spend the better part of an hour crouched over her computer color coding and reconciling activities  Continue reading “4 Things You Need For Work/Life Integration from Mom’s Who Hustle”

How & Why Mom’s Prioritize Their Time

#MomsSelfCare #MomsQuestForTime #MomsHealth

About two years ago, shortly after maternity leave for my youngest, I ran (frazzled) through the parking garage to reach the nursing room at work before my first meeting after spending the past hour driving in heavy traffic. I then realized, that in my sleep-deprived state, I left my pumping bag at home.

Has this ever happened to you? I barely remembered driving to work in the first place and then the hard reality, that I needed to reschedule my morning to drive back home, set in.

I’d already been thinking (ok, obsessing) about my own prioritization and ability to balance a demanding yet engaging career with motherhood.  Despite following a path that seemed ‘natural’ — breastfeed, form deep bond with new baby, return to being a rock star at work, pay thoughtful attention to my older child, continue with navigating playgrounds and museums on the weekends as if nothing had changed — I felt tremendous stress and fatigue most days.

Cumulatively, that stress eroded my goodwill, patience, sense of humor, creativity… Everything that made me ‘me’ was gradually slipping away under what felt like constant pressure from an invisible, yet impossibly tight, schedule every waking moment.   I was depleted and longed for practical solutions.

Did all moms with young children feel this? Did all working moms feel this?  Continue reading “How & Why Mom’s Prioritize Their Time”

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