Guest Post: Diane Moca is a suburban mom of two and founder of MomSub, an app in development to provide super affordable, trusted, neighborhood childcare through a community of moms helping moms. To sign up for free childcare as an app tester, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As COVID cases surge, many of us now know someone who has tested positive — making us more worried than ever about the health of our kids. And though that worry might make us want to keep our kids home from school or daycare, it doesn’t change our reality. If you have to work away from home to run your business, and you have no family to help with childcare, you have to rely on school or daycare or a nanny. If you have to be in Zoom meetings throughout the day to keep your company afloat, and you are constantly being pulled away to deal with your children, you have to find someone else to watch your kids. Even if you decide your family can live without your income, do you want to join the ranks of women who are leaving their careers because of the pandemic?
Why this recession is a shecession
Some have dubbed this economic downturn a ‘shecession’ because the positions most likely to be eliminated by the pandemic — service jobs like waitress, hairstylist and retail clerk — are disproportionately held by women. But even more frustrating are all the women who are grudgingly abandoning careers simply because they are mothers who can no longer send their children to school or daycare amid COVID concerns.
NPR reports that “in September, an eye-popping 865,000 women left the U.S. workforce — four times more than men. The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on households, and women are bearing the brunt of it. Not only have they lost the most jobs from the beginning of the pandemic, but they are exhausted from the demands of child care and housework — and many are now seeing no path ahead but to quit working.”
A new kind of mommy guilt
Since mothers first began working outside the home and leaving their children in the care of others, women have felt the kind of mommy guilt that stabs you with sadness as you hand off a crying child to get to work in the morning, and pokes you with shame as you sneak out of a client meeting to pick up your kid at night. But now moms are facing the double whammy of fear and guilt when they bring their child to a public place like school or daycare where they could expose the whole family to coronavirus.
These moms wonder: Is my livelihood worth the risk? A better question might be: Is your career worth fighting for? Unprecedented times cry out for unconventional solutions, especially when the existing options have been decried as woefully inadequate since the early 1900s when nursery schools began. Mothers in the United States have been clamoring for more affordable and more accessible childcare for decades. There’s got to be a better way.
Time for creative solutions
Many typical options like schools and daycares are no longer readily available to mothers. School districts across the country have switched to remote learning. Daycare facilities have shut down, leaving the remaining ones further away and more expensive. We are hesitant to have our parents watch our kids because we don’t want to expose these loving grandparents to a disease that could kill them. A good option is to find a professional nanny if you can afford it. If you know a reliable teenager in your neighborhood, you can probably arrange childcare in your home for a reasonable price.
Mom Sub may be your answer
And if you want to practically eliminate the cost of childcare, you can set up a babysitting co-op with your neighbors, church, or mom friend group where you trade childcare favors with moms you know. If this is an intriguing option, but you are concerned about the time needed to coordinate schedules and track points, you can register for MomSub, a community of moms helping moms that lists nearby mothers who are available to watch your kids for $1 per child per hour. Dropping off your kids with a neighborhood mom friend can reduce how many people your kid interacts with and how much money you spend on childcare. You can return the favor by taking in another mom’s kids to play with yours on a day you are on mom duty supervising your own kids at home.
For some moms, combining all of these options may be what it takes to keep their career and their business alive. The extra effort to find the right childcare solution for you means one less thing to worry about during these crazy COVID times.