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Parenting During a Pandemic: Childcare Edition

Disclaimer: this post is really going to be just me rambling on the babysitting woes hubby and I faced the last couple of months so please bear with me. Lol!

I think we can all agree that COVID-19 is THE WORST... but for persons with children, I think this feeling is intensified. We have been thrown so many curve balls since this pandemic began, so many issues to deal with that we never thought we would've had to conquer, and first and foremost on that list is... childcare.

Since I've been back out to work from my maternity leave, Leroy and I have been on rotation (one day on one day off), so thankfully, we both equally got to stay home with baby girl and care for her. We've equally gotten to witness her milestones and see her grow before our eyes. However, as expected, there came the day when Leroy's place of work decided that they required their full workforce everyday. So where did that leave baby girl... and me? Because there's no work-from-home policy or childcare available where I work.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all daycare facilities had to be closed since children are a part of our most vulnerable population. This didn't really bother me because daycare was honestly a last resort for me. I've personally heard a lot of bad stories regarding childcare in that setting and as baby girl is my first child, I wanted to weigh all my options thoroughly before going to daycare. With regard to babysitters, I've had bad experiences previously with persons entering my personal space so I preferred not to go that route. So that left my family members. Hubby's family is from south Trinidad so that basically removed them out of the equation altogether. My parents and brother work so they couldn't do it. There is really only one Aunt I trust with such a great responsibility as taking care of my daughter... but unfortunately, she had to work for a couple months before going on to pre-retirement leave.

So your girl did what she had to do and marched to her job's HR department to find out what can be done - whether working from home was even an option (especially since I've been doing that while on rotation anyway) and also get some info on "pandemic leave" which was once available in 2020. Unfortunately pandemic leave was a one off thing (certain persons ruined it for the people that actually needed it - Peter paid for Paul bs) but I was told that once I can justify working from home and also provide a schedule with weekly targets or projects to be completed, then it should be approved by the executives. Cool! I can do that! I've been working from home anyhow so this is easy. When I was about to leave though, the HR rep told me to talk to the exec who would be approving it for me so she can tell me exactly what she needs from me to make this work. Great! I mean... This woman has seen me wobbling about while pregnant, we've interacted quite a few times and she seemed pleasant enough so this should be a breeze!

I basically skipped into her office. She greeted me as she usually would, although less cheery since she showed obvious signs of exhaustion. I explained to her the situation I was facing, including what the HR rep told me, and asked her what my options were from her perspective since she would be the one approving it. After congratulating me on the birth of my daughter, she said the words that I never thought I would hear coming from a fellow woman and mother. She said to me, with as much tact as the safety pin currently holding my top together, "Ent yuh have days? Take them! Find out how much yuh have and take all the days yuh have! That should hold you for about a month ent? When yuh come back out, we'll figure out what to do?" GUYS! I literally felt like she cursed me. Take all my days?! Are you crazy?! So, I'm not supposed to get sick, take a lil vacation for my birthday for the next year because I have to take all my days for something literally beyond my control?! Why can't you figure it out now? Why do you have to wait till my leave has been exhausted before trying to figure out what to do??

It's not my fault that we're in a panorama (pandemic) that has caused all childcare to be either closed or operating super low key (meaning, in order to get inside, you've got to know someone)... so why do I feel punished?? Why is it that my only option is to take all my leave to stay home with my daughter? Pandemic leave was honestly such a great idea and would've helped parents alot during this time. It's so unfortunate that persons took advantage of this great initiative and ruined it for people who actually need it. I literally sat in shock in that woman's office. I didn't even know how to respond to her after that statement. When I walked out that office, I felt so hurt and defeated. I even began to self-sabotage for a few days subsequently. I began thinking about taking all my leave and then after, would I have to leave my job? What are my other options? I became depressed and went down a super dark rabbit hole (remember I'm still in postpartum territory)... I literally felt like there was no other option but quitting my job.

Thankfully, things worked out as my Aunt (the same person I mentioned above) only needs to work 2 days weekly and can do so online. Yayyyy! She can take care of my daughter on the days I need to work! But... this issue led me to think about the families that don't have this option, where one parent is forced to stay at home to take care of their children (whether by taking all their leave or by having to leave their job altogether). It absolutely sucks and currently, there seems to be no end in sight in terms of this pandemic letting up. Sigh... Parents of older kids are going through it as well with most of them homeschooling and/or assisting their kids with online learning. I want to take this time to give kudos to all the parents out there who were thrown the curveball of having no childcare available... because we deserve all the flowers!! ALL!

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I have been reading your blog some months now and I feel like you're going through everything I am, just a few months ahead. I just ended my maternity leave and have put in an application for a partial work from home arrangement. God's willing I will get through. I feel like we really need to progress as a country and facilitate parents , especially with the trials of this pandemic. So glad it worked out for you in the end.

Brinnelle Kelly-Simmons
Brinnelle Kelly-Simmons

I’m so sad that I’m only now seeing this comment. Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts. I wish there was some progress between that time and now but unfortunately not. Here’s to hoping for progress for working mothers in the near future!

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