Did I just quote Hillary Clinton’s 2016 slogan? Yes, I did. Because Hillary is smart.
In 2016, Hillary didn’t predict that we’d be entering our third month of a pandemic and that the economy would be in free fall, but if she had, she would have said we are stronger if we address the issues together.
In particular, parents should band together to figure out how to get workplaces better aligned with their needs.
Looking back on my last office job, I recall a time that a childless coworker complained that another coworker had to leave in the middle of something to go pick up a child from daycare. What the childless coworker didn’t fully grasp was that the daycare was going to close. The child had to be removed from the premises because the premises were shutting down for the night. Daycare isn’t like a parking meter where you pop a quarter in and extend the time. The parent didn’t have a choice about picking up the child.
Someone explained that to the childless person and their complaining stopped. All it took was a quick clarification.
In the current environment for schools, daycares, and after-school care, we are in that situation. They are closed. Our children have been removed from the premises. Outside childcare is not an option for millions of families right now. Someone needs to explain that to the folks at work.
Correction: someoneS need to explain that to folks at work.
Working parents need to connect with other parents in their workplaces to talk about what’s going on with school and childcare. And parents need to work as a team to request that management make accommodations to their hours so that children can be cared for and so adults can do their work. The logistics of work need to change and parents are in a position to ask for those changes.
This is where the “stronger together” thing comes in; one parent asking their boss for a favor is a weak baragining position. A committee of parents presenting a proposal on behalf of all the parents in the company is stronger and likelier to lead to a favorable outcome.
If you think this sounds like collective bargaining and the ground work for a union, you’re right! I would love it if this situation led to workers unionizing to negotiate non-traditional scheduling and better work/family balance. But let’s not move too fast. We’ll scare the capitalists and they’ll say no before anyone even asks a question.
For now, it is in everyone’s best interest to establish new work patterns that allow for economic security as well as security for families who need to care for young children. I can’t speak to how that will work in different workplaces and different communities but I do know that there won’t be changes unless parents, as a group, come forward to ask for them.
Connect with your colleagues and start on the path to a more family friendly workplace. You will be stronger together.
Photo credit: Hillary for America – https://www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandforHillary/photos, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63937611