The Top 2 Things Parents Need Most Right Now

The pandemic has everyone spinning right now. All of us parents seem to be in one of the 5 stages of grief. I have moved past denial and am currently sitting in a huge vat of angry. I am angry that we are in this mess. I am angry we opened too quickly, I am angry at all the Spring Breakers, Memorial Day party-goers, and Fourth of July revelers. I am very angry at all the politicians who allowed these idiots to ruin any chances our kids had of going back to a much needed in-person classroom.

The reality is, it doesn't matter how angry I am. The fact remains, as many before me have said, there are no good answers. There is only the least wrong answer. Regardless of the decision on where we end up schooling our children, parents desperately need 2 things right now.

1. TO PLAN: On one hand I felt bad for the kids in school districts who announced weeks ago that their fall semester was going to be online. It felt like giving up. On the other hand, I was jealous. At least they have an answer. At least they can make family plans.

Above everything, parents need to be able to plan. Sure we know in the back of our heads that the best laid plans are slated to go wrong at the worst possible moment. Working parents live with the uncertainty of that every day. It is inevitable that the morning of a huge presentation or non-negotiable meeting at work, a small child will come down the stairs and announce they just threw up and don't feel well.

But that is uncertainty we signed up for. We can deal with the minor daily inconsistencies of short-term interruptions as long as there is a larger plan. Constantly kicking the can down the road in the vain hopes that the numbers will get better, that more money will appear, that data will coalesce into a consensus is not helping. Childcare, tutors and other resources are scarce right now, and by putting off the decision we are forcing parents to compete at the last minute in a race for care solutions that will end up leaving some unemployed.

2. SUPPORT: This is an unprecedented time in history and we, as a collective society, need to decide if supporting the next generation is something we are invested in as a society or not. What I am talking about is money, resources, and solutions. Parents, working or not, need support for their families on every level.

The only solution that is going to work at this point is an all-in approach from every sector. Employers need to recognize the plight of working parents and support them by working with individual employees to reach an appropriate plan for both parties. Government agencies will need to deal with the economic fall-out of the unemployment rate and rising home insecurities. Schools, depending on their choice to go back or remote teach, need to provide parents with tools to address mental health and stress management issues. Healthcare needs to make covid (and influenza) testing and basic health care more accessible to all families so we can identify and mitigate outbreaks before they balloon.

Most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, the fastest way to find long-term workable solutions for school aged children is to throw money at the problem. We have bailed out various industries that we have deemed "too big to fail" and considering 32% of the workforce also happens to be parents of school aged children, many who rely on the economic resource of public school, I would say that the public school system is definitely something that should be considered too big to fail. We need a full-scale economic bailout to bring school buildings up to date, expand services, hire more teachers, shrink classroom sizes, and add nurses and health care workers.