I’ve had no idea what day it is all week. Turns out, one really loses track of time during a global pandemic. But the day has finally arrived my friends; we made it to Friday. Time to settle in for a weekend of…the same thing we did all week. And will be doing again next week. Friday loses a bit of its luster amidst a quarantine. We’re all living in a Groundhog Day nightmare and slowly realizing that Bill Murray had no idea how much easier that scenario was without kids.
The reality is, whether or not you have kids, it was a tough week. Global markets are a cruel joke, our hands are raw from washing, young and old are all at risk, the political divide in this country is growing wider, and we’ve already eaten all the good snacks. Sadly, no amount of crowd-sourced, bulleted guides is going to save us (though we have many excellent ones on Kunik if you’re looking!). We’re living out an economic and social recession in real time. And it’s painful.
If you’re currently working while taking care of your kids (hi, me too), it’s likely been an extra long week. Single parents, double that. Healthcare workers and public facing jobs, thank you, and the stress is amplified. If you’re in need, sick, or a high risk segment, your stress is immeasurable. That is to say, no matter your current situation, the world had a very, very long week.
It truly does feel like Groundhog Day in many ways, and it’s going to stay that way for a long time. But you know what is actually really great about all those guides circulating online? Two things. The sheer number of people who are taking the time to contribute, write, and share them with everyone, and how much is being offered for free – from large companies to start-ups alike. For every news update that adds to my stress, I read a new story that gives me hope: companies paying workers even while closed, people covering childcare costs for healthcare workers, students organizing to buy food and essentials for the elderly. Not words, but tangible actions.
Social distancing has laid bare just how much we all depend on each other. It’s not only the lack of interaction with our friends, it’s small moments that we took for granted before they were so swiftly taken away. The familiar faces and banter at the coffee shop, the other kids at the playground who entertain your own kids, the casual chatter with waiters and other restaurant goers. Are these, deep, long-lasting, meaningful connections? Of course not, but they still enrich our days, and for me personally, their absence has left a gaping hole. I love seeing all the people at my coffee shop, but I don’t have them on facetime.
We’re still in the early days of this massive social experiment and the outcomes are uncertain. It’s likely going to place an unfair, imbalanced burden on mothers and many elements of how we work, parent, and interact will be permanently changed (hopefully for the better). I’ll be digging into both of those coming up and I’m eager to hear what you all think. As we go further into this though, I think it will become even more apparent how much we need the support of community, virtual and otherwise. Our health, our families health, and our friends health depends heavily on the actions of strangers right now. Our outcomes have never been so intimately connected and tied to a specific point in time. In the intensity of this moment, we are seeing people all around us step up in big ways and small.
Of course not all of the actions we’re seeing are for the benefit of working parents specifically, though many of them are. As we go into a weekend of seeing no one (seriously, please do not see anyone!) and think about the fact that this likely will continue for months, we’ll all be contemplating just how exactly we’re going to make this work. What social interactions are missing the most? What do we need from our virtual communities, our employers and our supporters to get through this time? The challenges working parents face have long been hidden in #secretparenting, gender bias, and outdated norms that don’t reflect today’s society and values. They’re now thrust into the video chat spotlight. With this visibility and focus comes change.
How can we harness the communal spirit we are seeing now and maintain it going forward? What actions – big and small, from individuals and companies – are you seeing that give you hope during this bleak time? If people are willing to extend a hand, to form a village for working parents in this moment, how can we try and make that last after the quarantine? What are the most meaningful changes you’d like to see come from this?