With more than a dozen states reopening their economies this week, schools closed until the fall, half of the country's daycares closed (and the childcare facilities that are still open on financial life support) and literally zero plan in place for workers who need childcare in order to get back to their jobs, parents in the United States are facing an unprecedented childcare crisis. (And that's saying something, considering we already have one of the worst parental leave policies in the world.)
Moms are famous for making a way out of no way, but this is… what's the word I'm looking for? Oh, right: Gobsmackinglyridiculoushorrifying.
Motherly recently asked parents how they were juggling childcare with other priorities. Here's what they said—proving that America's working parents need—and deserve—a childcare solution, fast.
Little kids' needs have to come first
1. "Doing lots of juggling between working full time at home and spending time and taking care of my 18 month old. My husband also is working from home full time. The struggle is real. Every day is a stressful mess but we are trying our best and she comes first. Work is just going to have to deal with that!" — Ashley
2. "Survival mode. As a newly single mom of an almost 2-year-old who is also working full time with zero help or support, some days I barely get anything done for work. Some days I work from 6am until midnight with breaks to care for my son. I am running on fumes." — Christie
The burden is falling heavily on moms
3. "I'm home. Working two jobs. Dealing with three kids and their homeschooling and a 3-year-old who has decided to unpotty train right now. My husband is in healthcare and is currently working 10-12 hour days. Plus a dog who barks every time I sit down. I get NO TIME and do ALL childcare." — Amy
4. "There is no childcare. I am the childcare. I am working 40+ hours a week from home, teaching fifth grade online, while caring for a 4-year-old and an 18-month-old. My husband is an essential worker and still has to go in three days a week, so I am on my own most days." — Elaine
Women are leaving the workforce to care for their children, because they have no other choice
5. "I had to leave my job temporarily to stay with my daughter. It's not easy, but not a lot of choices!" — Rachel
You know things are messed up when layoffs are the only good news
6. "My husband was (unfortunately) laid off last month. So it kind of worked out to our advantage. He is able to take care of our daughter (thankfully too young for school right now) while I'm working from home. He even bought her some workbooks to do with her. They've also been baking together, coloring, playing and enjoying Disney movies." — Erin
7. "My husband and I were both furloughed, so child care hasn't been an issue. Nine months pregnant though, so my mother-in-law will be helping while we are at the hospital." —Mandy
8. "Both my husband and I have been furloughed this past month, so we are both home with our 2-year-old and 9-month-old having the best quality time with them both! This situation is not ideal, but we are enjoying every minute with them without worrying about juggling work too!" — Ana
The pandemic is bringing new meaning to "take your child to work day"
9. "I work at an office and my office is closed to the public but I'm still working and taking my 5-month-old to work with me, and my husband is working from home with our 3-year-old. It is what works best for us but it's a struggle I do enjoy bringing my little one to work with me but keeping him calm to work is not always easy." — Leah
Even when both parents can work from home, it's still chaos
10. "Both my husband and I are working from home, he's a high school teacher and I work for a utility company. We have 2- and 4-year-old boys, to say crazy and chaotic, is an understatement. Especially when he's teaching class in one room and I'm in a meeting in the other. However, even though we are somewhat getting tired of each other (24/7 for six weeks) it has been nice to see all the changes in the boys and spend some more time with my husband." — Sara
Desperate times mean grandparents are picking up childcare—at a risk
11. "We've had to rely heavily on family preventing us from being able to distance from them because we both work out of the house full time. I wish I could be able to care for my 1-year-old daughter while daycare is closed. She's getting lots of grandma-grandpa time in, though." — Amanda
12. "I'm a teacher so I'm mainly working from home, with a day or two at school. I'm blessed that we are still able to see my mom and dad, and with my husband deployed they have been heaven sent with watching my son when I need to focus on work." — Hannah
13. "Both my husband and I are considered essential workers so we both are still having to go to our day jobs M-F. Our daycare is closed and we have a 4-year-old and a 10-month-old. Thankfully they have been able to go to my parents during the week but I'm not sure how much longer they will be able to do that every day. Hoping this all ends soon! " — Megan
Parents are organizing shifts for work + childcare
14. "My husband is self employed and [business is] slower than usual. He changed his hours to go in later so I can work from home. This way there is only about 1.5 hours I have them on my own while working. We have a 2.5-year-old and a 4-month-old. It's working pretty well considering " — Erin M.
15. "I normally work from home but it's a job that still requires childcare as I'm on the phone a lot. My husband's hours are cut back to 3 days a week so he watches them those days and then my mom comes over on the other three to watch them for a few hours until he gets home." — Debi
Parents are working incredibly long hours
16. "Working evenings, weekends, and on business days splitting with my hubs. Trying to work 2 full-time jobs with no childcare!!" — Dayna
17. "My husband and I are still working. He is actually busier than ever with his cleaning business. Just thankful he can be flexible with his hours. He leaves for work right after I get home." — Claudia
One thing is clear: This is not sustainable, either for parents or for the children who need our care. We need a nationwide plan for childcare during the coronavirus outbreak that includes small business loans for daycares and preschools, federal safety guidelines for childcare providers and nationwide, government-supported childcare for first responders and essential workers.
And that would be a start.