How Some Parents Are Looking After Their Kids This Fall

This will be a year for unique childcare solutions as our children spend most (or all) of their time learning outside the classroom, even as parents keep trying to work and we all try to stay isolated to protect each other. Parents need help, but sometimes the help is not safe.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution here; not even close. But if you’re still trying to figure out how the heck you’re going to get through this school year while keeping yourself busy (and / or sanity), and maybe even if your kids have learned a thing or two, something here might help.

I asked our Facebook group Offspring : How do you handle childcare when your kids are out of school and / or learning virtually? And here’s what they said (some answers might be slightly edited for spelling, grammar, or clarity):

“What I like to call home management”

Team member Carrie describes her situation as follows:

My husband and I were told that we both work from home no earlier than September 2021. I know it will only help if I ask for certain things, so I will primarily manage the children’s distance learning, aftercare, extra activities, cooking, delivery and lunch for my other child in preschool. I don’t want to make a capsule for a kinder because it seems like a lot of extra work for a kinder.

The Jamie family has a similar plan, although they put it more bluntly: “It is now 1950, and I carry the load.”

I am involved in cooking, cleaning and childcare (education, exercise, play) because of my partner’s increasingly demanding work. He does streaming, which is as popular now as it was when we were all stuck at home. We are supposed to start studying in kinder in two weeks, but schools in Los Angeles are not opening yet, so we are trying to find children in the group. But since they go to Kinders, no one knows each other, and it’s almost impossible to find risk-averse Kinder families in our area.

I didn’t take into account that all three of them have special risks associated with COVID that make us more fearful than in an ordinary home, so it was impossible to find reliable people who were not inclined to take risks. I’m burned out, but when we do the emotional test, she still says she is happy, which is my only goal.

The “cobbled together” plan

This is one of the most popular plans and is actually not so much a plan as an exercise to try to cover someone every hour of the day . Take, for example, Joshua, whose first grader will be attending a cyber charter school:

We are lucky that my mom is ready to help us during the day, and my wife works in a nearby church. The church has given her permission to bring him in with the computer in the morning and will allocate a room for him. During lunchtime, my mom will pick him up and make sure he “attends” his afternoon classes.

Perhaps there are even more gatherings at Jenn’s house this fall:

We are lucky that two parents work from home and can support our kindergarten. Morning virtual classroom with parental support, hired assistant in the middle of the day (from 10 am to 1 pm) with another child, focused on the game. In the afternoons, there is more virtual classroom with alternating parents supporting “after school” time in the open play area (parents wearing masks, children without) with other children from the class.

Every time one parent makes an appointment for work, the other tries to immediately block it because “no work meets” to be the parent on duty. Hopefully the duty parent can still get work done during the child’s virtual lessons rather than in meetings. Additional work that parents do in the evening with the TV on for children, due to the pandemic.

And Sarah and her partner’s flexible working hours mean that basically everyone is always either working, or studying, or caring for the children:

My husband and I have a job that requires us to be in the office at least part of the time. I work from 4 am to 10 am … so my husband can go to work that [different] morning and also at various off-hours on weekends. I take on most of the childcare and academic responsibilities and will probably go part-time into the school year depending on how things are going.

Oh yeah, this brings me to an unfortunate choice that many had to make:

Quit your job decision

This was the option that best suited Mark and his wife:

My wife, a paramedic, does not work and is at home with the children. I work. We made this decision because I get a higher salary, otherwise we would have switched places.

Fortunately, the group included one of the parents of a high school student who does not work and whose son does not require much help from her. Depending on her district’s final plan, she may be able to mentor a group of five children in her area, which for adults with less responsibilities is a great way to help other families right now.


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