Thirty-four days. It’s been thirty-four days since I was forced to become a kindergarten and second grade teacher to my daughters, Leighton and Emerson. Simultaneously, I’ve been working full-time from home to sustain my public relations business, managing my clients’ communication needs daily, as my husband works alongside me at his own job. As Illinois deals with the reality of the coronavirus, families across the state are struggling with new normal as parents: managing Zoom calls, homework, music, art and PE at home (not to mention breakfast, lunch, snacks, fights, playtime). This alone could fill up a day, but what are two working parents supposed to do? Let their job or business fail or let their children’s education get ignored and leave them to fend for themselves? It’s a hard choice and a stressful choice and one that parents should never be forced to make. And yet, working parents are facing these dilemmas many times a day, every day, and most of us feel like we’re failing at everything as a result.
Throwing around my doctorate in education for a sec: I want all you parents to know that *literally no human beings ever in history* have been asked to educate kids & do adult work simultaneously the way you are now. The scientific term for what you're facing is "batshit insane."
— Gus Andrews (@gusandrews) April 24, 2020
This isn’t sustainable.
“Why is no one talking about how unsustainable this is for working parents?” a recent Today’s Parent opinion piece asked. Not for the kids, not for the parents, not for employers, not for anyone. Lawmakers and school districts need to be talking about this, and providing more resources and guidance on how this is supposed to work as we enter the second half of this stay-at-home order, which could, of course, be extended yet again. I don’t have the answers, but if they need us to keep staying home to protect ourselves from this virus, we must be given clearer direction on how families are supposed to make this work because, as a New York Times opinion piece recently noted, it is, quite simply, not working.
— Brooke Geiger McDonald (@BrookeGMcDonald) April 22, 2020
Prepare for e-learning in the fall.
That is what Illinois governor JB Pritzker warned during his daily press conference recently and I almost fell to the ground in sheer panic and anxiety. Again, this isn’t sustainable for working parents—not now, not ever. You can’t force parents to choose like this. Jobs are getting eliminated every single day. So many employees are on the chopping block, which is stressful enough. Add children screaming that their waffles are cold and the camera on their computer isn’t working—all day, every day—and it is enough to make someone crawl in a hole and never come out. Help us!
What is the solution?
I don’t have the answers. That is above my pay grade, but on behalf of working parents across the country, we are asking lawmakers to hear us and come up with solutions that are realistic and manageable. This is a real problem that seems only to get talked about by struggling parents like me, but preventing parents from being able to do their jobs well because they have to care for and homeschool their children without support will have a negative impact on the economy. Lawmakers need to step in and so we never have to go through this experience again. Or, at least get a realistic plan in place if this, God forbid, ever happens again.
Until then, I will keep staring at the calendar…. 30 more days to go. And, don’t even get me started on whether summer camps can happen…
Join us for a Better Together Happy Hour on May 6th at 7:30 p.m. with Rachel Bertsche, New York Times Bestselling Author of “The Kids Are in Bed — Finding Time for Yourself in the Chaos of Parenting.”
Even on a good day, it can be tough for busy parents to find a moment for themselves. Now, in the time of COVID, it can feel impossible — and yet it’s more important than ever! Pour yourself a glass of wine and join Better and Marin Magazine for a Zoom conversation with author Rachel Bertsche, moderated by our National Content Director, Brooke Geiger McDonald. Rachel will answer questions and share tips that help parents find what she calls “pockets of indulgence” in the midst of the chaos of parenting, homeschooling, and working from home.
Register for free here!
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Megan Richards Martin is the founding principal of Page One Public Relations, representing clients like Walter E. Smithe, Roka Akor, Levy Restaurants, Mariano’s and Home Chef. Megan proudly supports Hinsdale Humane Society, Cycle for Survival and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Illinois. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and their two daughters.