‘Everyone is pulling their hair out.’ Working parents struggle during COVID

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Deb Perelman with her family. She says, “How could you even take a job if we don’t have anywhere to send our kids?” Photo courtesy of Deb Perelman.

A lot of summer activities are not happening due to coronavirus, and it’s unclear when or if kids will return to school. 

For working parents, especially moms, that means holding down more than one full time job. There’s the one they get paid for, and the ones they don’t get paid for (teacher and caregiver). It’s impossible to do both well. When will this house of cards come tumbling down?

For Deb Perelman, it has. She’s the creator of the food blog “Smitten Kitchen.” She wrote about this for the New York Times.

She tells KCRW, “How do you go back to normal? How could you even take a job if we don’t have anywhere to send our kids? There’s no daycares, there’s no camps [sic]. It’s not safe to bring a babysitter in here. There’s no schools [sic]. And I don’t expect those places to take care of our kids. But if people are expected to go back to work, what are you supposed to do? Just leave your job, leave your livelihood, lose your insurance?” 

When she talks about this with her friends and other parents, what are they saying they might do? “Everyone is pulling their hair out. Nobody knows what they can do. … They say, ‘I can’t speak too loudly about this because it makes it sound like I’m not able to do my job.’ You don’t want to be on social media that you really can’t handle your work. But that’s what’s happening,” she says. 

Perelman says there’s no easy solution right now. “The pandemic happened. We have to be safe. It’s not safe to have a bunch of kids milling around in a tight classroom. But what I'd love to see is more creativity. And I’d love to see some protection of the workforce. You can’t have a different schedule of reopening for offices and you have for kids’ activities. You just put parents through the shredder, and they have no options.” 

Credits

Guest:
Deb Perelman - creator of the food blog “Smitten Kitchen”

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Angie Perrin