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Moms are being forced to choose between their job and their kids in this pandemic

Parents are over 40% of the workforce and if schools and daycares remain closed, that leaves them in an impossible situation.

reopening economy without childcare

When schools and childcare providers operate on part-time schedules or at lower capacity—or shut down altogether—will working parents be forced to choose between caring for their children and losing their jobs?

That's the question facing America's working parents right now: your child, or your job.

Florida State University announced that it would "no longer allow" its employees to care for children during working hours. An attorney was reportedly fired by her employer after her children were overheard in the background on business calls. Meanwhile, as the pressures of parenting through a pandemic rise, an increasing number of mothers are leaving the workforce to care for children, which has already been predicted to have longterm economic impacts including widening the wage gap.

This summer and fall. school districts and childcare providers nationwide are struggling with a monumental—and expensive—problem: How to implement safe reopening guidelines as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics—without, it should be noted, urgently-needed additional funding for staff, equipment or space. Implementing safe health practices at schools and daycares is a must in order for them to reopen. It also will cost a lot more money.

People want to go back to work. Kids need to go back to school and to childcare. We all want and need our country's economic outlook to improve. But somehow, incredibly, there's been no planning at either the federal or local level for how those needs can be made to work together.


It's not as if working parents make up a negligible percentage of the workforce in America. The Department of Labor reports that 93% of fathers and 71% of mothers in America participate in the workforce—they're either employed or trying to be. Even among mothers of children under the age of three, the workforce participation rate is over 50%, and for mothers of older children, the rate is as high as 76%.

The U.S. labor force is estimated at around 164 million people—of which working parents make up slightly less than half. Of the nation's 82.6 million families, 81.1% had at least one employed family member in 2019. Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40% of households with children under 18.

Working parents in this country are accustomed to challenging conditions. Unaffordable childcare, childcare deserts and a lack of paid parental leave for most parents are all considered status quo, old news, the price of admission to American parenthood. But at the very least, parents of school-age children could rely on a public school system that cared for and educated their kids for about 70% of the working day. Now even that minimal safety net is gone (and as many a teacher will tell you, equating school and childcare is one of those things that makes teachers see red).

But with working parents making a significant percentage of the very economy we are all so eager to see up and humming again, there's got to be at least some consideration of what will happen to parents when businesses expect us to show up and there's still no care or education in place for our kids. Airlines got billions of dollars in federal bailout money—imagine what that level of relief could do to help keep the struggling child care industry afloat.

The numbers are clear: There is no reopening the economy until there's a solution for working parents. Period.

[A version of this post was originally published in April 2020, and updated in May 2020. It has been updated again. And there is still no plan for working parents who need full-time childcare.]

<p> Siobhan Adcock is the Experts Editor at Motherly and the author of two novels about motherhood, <a href="https://www.siobhanadcock.com/" target="_blank">The Completionist</a> and <a href="https://www.siobhanadcock.com/the-barter" target="_blank">The Barter</a>. Her writing has also appeared in Romper, Bustle, Ms., McSweeney's, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, The Chicago Review of Books and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter. </p>

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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