Two stories in The New York Times today explore the costs of working from home while managing childcare and home schooling. These articles are among the growing number of voices that ask why the government and employers are ignoring the growing crisis for caregivers during COVID-19 and the long-term impacts parents face in their careers:
“In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both” by Deb Perelman: Our struggle is not an emotional concern. We are not burned out. We are being crushed by an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.
Let me say the quiet part loud: In the Covid-19 economy, you’re allowed only a kid or a job.
Why isn’t anyone talking about this? Why are we not hearing a primal scream so deafening that no plodding policy can be implemented without addressing the people buried by it? Why am I, a food blogger best known for such hits as the All-Butter Really Flaky Pie Dough and The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake, sounding the alarm on this? I think it’s because when you’re home schooling all day, and not performing the work you were hired to do until the wee hours of the morning, and do it on repeat for 106 days (not that anyone is counting), you might be a bit too fried to funnel your rage effectively.
“The Pandemic’s Setbacks for Working Moms” interview by Emma Goldberg: Two reporters talk about the disadvantages women will face in the workplace in earnings and opportunities.
Why did the Covid-19 pandemic put those gender inequities “on steroids,” as the economist Claudia Goldin put it?
TIFFANY HSU Because so many companies started to ask their employees to work from home, you had this situation where mothers were having to juggle work and care for their children simultaneously. And on top of that, they have housework. They have their own personal health to worry about. We heard stories of women who are waking up at 3 a.m. and working until 8 a.m., and then they’re taking a chunk of their child care duties for the day.
And that’s not taking into account women who are unemployed and are trying to file for jobless benefits and look for new jobs while juggling child care. We had one woman who mentioned she was on the phone constantly trying to get through to the state government to get her benefits in order. She had to take her kids with her to the store because she couldn’t leave them at home, so she was getting dirty looks while she was shopping. And she was just so overwhelmed that sometimes she had to hide in the bathroom to catch a breath.