You know you’re treading in turbulent waters when even Elmo’s dad puts out a PSA to parents telling us how good of a job we’re doing. The internet is swirling with articles, blog posts and memes about parent burnout, the impossible WFH/remote teaching gig we’ve all been handed, tips on how we’ll survive this without permanent damage to our children or our careers…the list goes on.
I know the thoughts flooding your head each night when you’ve finally unplugged and put all the school/craft/give-me-20-minutes-to-finish-this-supplies away… because they’re in my head too.
How did I get anything done before? Was I always this bad at my job? This disorganized? This tired? This impatient? No. You weren’t. You had help! A wonderfully orchestrated team of help in the form of family, friends, teachers, and daycare Providers.
Now more than ever parents are realizing how vital quality child care is — whether it came from grandparents, a reliable friend or neighbor, or a more formal daycare setting. Until recently, many parents (myself included), have always viewed daycare as a necessary evil (read: I’d rather not leave my children in the care of other people for 7-10 hours a day, but work I must). But now that life as we know it has been totally upended, we’re beginning to see child care for the saving grace it really is. Parents all over are discovering a newfound appreciation for the people who formerly cared for (and taught) our kids while we worked. With each passing day in quarantine, it becomes more and more clear that child care workers and teachers are some of society’s true unsung heroes.
Over the course of my daughters’ time at their daycare center, I’m definitely guilty of dropping off and flying to work without much thought to the great responsibility and task bestowed upon their teachers each day. But there have also been a number of times that I’ve stopped and looked back as 5 children simultaneously hollered various requests at them and they remained ever patient and kind. I remember thinking to myself, “I could NEVER do this job.” And I mean neeeeever.
I have been wildly impressed by our child care provider on numerous occasions. I’ll always remember when my daughter Anna, who was 3 at the time, came home counting to 10 in Spanish. I was FLOORED. First, because it’s an odd feeling when you discover your kids are learning things that you aren’t teaching them. Second, it hit me that day that beyond feeding, soothing, changing, and playing with 7 kids, Miss Madison somehow also managed to teach them to count in another language! Ummmm, how?!
Often out of chaos comes clarity. I believe that one major ah-ha during this whole COVID-19 nightmare is that as a society, the people we need the most, we value least. Quality child care shouldn’t be a luxury, because it is a necessity. And thanks to companies like NeighborSchools, parents will now have easier access to top-notch home daycares when the time comes to finally return to work. Until then, consider sending a note, video message, flowers… anything you’d like to a child care provider in your life simply acknowledging how challenging their job is, and letting them know that you’re thinking of them during this time when they can’t do what they love to do.