Why Won’t Parents Ask for Help When They Need it Most?

“I need some grace – from myself, my spouse, my child, but especially my job. The expectation that parents can manage to work a full-time schedule from home while also caring for children is absurd.”

“More time in the day so I can finish all of my tasks (work, child care, household chores) or more money so I could pay someone to take a task off my to-do list. I am being asked to do more at work for the same pay and have more to do at home now too.”

Over 1,200 parents, primarily Mothers (93%) have shared in our anonymous survey what they need to improve work and life through Covid. Most need help. In the form of childcare, household help, work flexibility, time and money to make the impossible — juggling too many roles at the same time — doable.

Last month there was a mass exodus of women from the workforce and perhaps worse, of those who remain, 1 in 4 are considering downshifting or leaving their careers.

Can we prevent this? What if it felt safe to ask for help at work?

The Always-On Intensity is Wearing Everyone Down

“…It’s impossible to maintain the 8-5 work hour schedule. The reality is that days just become longer for parents, waking up before dawn to get work done, so that when kids wake up, you’ve already put in hours. But during kids’ breakfast, you also have the daily morning meetings that interfere with child bonding, etc.”

“…I’m either working for my employer or keeping my household going. There’s just nothing left for me.”

Whether soothing babies, chasing toddlers, playing Continue reading “Why Won’t Parents Ask for Help When They Need it Most?”

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?”

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”

How to Restore Work/Life Boundaries Working From Home

“Today is different from yesterday and this week is different from last week. You can have some kids in school but if the County is on a watch list for Covid, then you can’t be in school. And, if there’s anyone in the community that gets Covid, then everything has to shut down and go virtual for two weeks. I get what they’re trying to do but it’s very fluid and not super helpful,” said Alexis Haselberger.

A lot of us are in the midst of or planning for back-to-school pandemic-style. Hybrid schedules. On and off days, lunch at home and no transportation. Back to school was always a high-stakes time of transition. But this year’s lack of consistency and threat of Covid-19, is a recipe for mental load stress. And productivity, for even the most seasoned work-from-home parents, has been flipped upside down by having the kids at home. I asked Alexis a productivity expert, for smart strategies to set this season of work-and-school-from-home, up for success.

Where Are You Right Now? Start There.

Although it’s true, it was hard before and it’s become harder, Alexis suggests starting with today. The current conditions do not resemble what once was. She said, “The mental framework I’ve been using is to ask, ‘what is working and not working right Continue reading “How to Restore Work/Life Boundaries Working From Home”

Help Is Not On the Way (And It’s Not Going Well)

Can Psychological Safety Can Make Work More Sane Right Now?

This is part of an ongoing series, to share results from the pandemic research study. This update is from nearly 400 parents, primarily Moms (91%) who responded between March 30 – June 6th about how COVID-19 has affected work and life, including what has been the hardest.

“The instability of both my job and ability to secure safe childcare (many will call out with late notice after finding out I work in healthcare.)”

“… uncertainty about when life can safely return to normal and perhaps more importantly the anxiety that my partner is likely going to be asked to return to work before we feel doing so meets our own personal threshold of risk.”

“I was working remotely then requested to be furloughed as both my husband and I were working remote with our 10-month-old and it was too much without help.”

More Responsibilities at Home Have Come at the Expense of Work

Surveyed Moms and Dads have leaned into their family roles during this time of crisis. 68% felt that they were doing the same, a better job than usual, or really well as parents and, though by a smaller majority, as spouses/partners. However, most (58%) felt that they were doing terribly or not as well as usual in their performance as workers and most (60%) sacrificed self-care routines to make space for the added responsibilities.  There are, however, exceptions. One surveyed Mom shared, “My kids are 9 and 10. They do their schoolwork and play/watch TV on their own while I’m working. My partner is now working from home, too, so I feel like I have more help than usual. I’m more productive now than I was when I was going to my workplace.”

Help Is Not On the Way for Most

The work/life juggle after having kids tested even the most optimistic parents. But in this pandemic, childcare, a prerequisite for working parenthood was disrupted for the overwhelming majority (74%) of those surveyed. And people are breaking under the strain of trying to do the absurd – work, Continue reading “Help Is Not On the Way (And It’s Not Going Well)”

It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better

Takeaways from ‘The Working Mom’s Playbook to Quarantine’ Panel Discussion

We learned how to compartmentalize work for sanity, presence and productivity but the separation is part of what makes it hard. Hiding the messiness of child-rearing from work and the appetite of work from our families, was tiring.

Now we’re trying to work, find work or start businesses during a pandemic and cultural revolution. Samantha Skey moderated a thoughtful discussion during last month’s BlogHer event with Super Mamas Karolina Kurkova, Eve Rodsky and Dara Tresseder.

They shared what they’ve embraced amidst the chaos and the need to change our systems at home. Now is a tumultuous yet perfect time to reexamine everything we’re doing. Remember, most of us were not emotionally or physically well before COVID19.
Continue reading “It’s Okay to Let Go of the Old Normal and Build Something Better”

How to Make Quarantine Friendly Changes to Your Self-Care Routines

“Mom. Mommmmmmeeee! Look at this!” My son ran into the kitchen with his iPad and said, “Look, this is so funny.” My hands were wet, the dishwasher open and I tried to steer him with my elbow out of the kitchen. “Honey, can it wait until I’m done?” I asked.  Each time he discovered a new Star Wars® meme to share, I had to dry my hands and pause the book I was listening to. After the fourth time I was annoyed. Audiobooks, a welcome distraction from dish-washing-purgatory, require focus.

To be candid, I was already on edge. Housework is on the rise and self-care is down. Like many, I’ve also been worrying more and sleeping less. My son was thrilled with his screen time and didn’t notice my frustration. But I still felt guilty for wanting space to myself. I’ve always been the default parent so it’s normal for my kids to seek me out at home. But after weeks of sheltering-in-place with conflicting Zoom calls, homeschool projects and grocery-store-bingo, I craved time alone.

My self-care rituals were invisible to my family before quarantine. Me-time was usually squeezed into the early mornings and late nights. I had also started to reconnect with my friends and professional network during the workday.

Of course, with COVID19, everything’s different.

It may feel impossible to protect your mental and physical health but it’s essential to try. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. Socially distant self-care is possible but Continue reading “How to Make Quarantine Friendly Changes to Your Self-Care Routines”

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