We know it “takes a village” to raise a family. But what does that really mean for modern day, working parents?
In our tech-centered society where remote work is becoming the norm, 46% of all American households earn dual incomes, families are living farther and farther apart from each other, and 13 million workers have more than one job, the way we think about and use child care is continuously evolving.
The Problem with (Trying) to Work and Parent During the Pandemic
The pandemic has forced working families to juggle work and ever-changing child care arrangements due to COVID exposures, classroom closures, and other health and safety precautions, leaving them juggling work and family care. "Unsustainable" is one of the most frequently used words to describe parenting during COVID. Without reliable child care, working families have had to cobble together some version of care just to hold the line.
What is a child care support system?
Child care isn't one-size-fits-all. A child care support system is your own blend of care arrangements that helps working families balance your career and family goals.
But we believe every parent should have the support they need to reach their family and career goals.
For some parents, it could be a mix of part-time enrollment at a child care program and a nanny. For others, it might be a shared care arrangement with other parents and relying on family members to fill in the gaps. A child care support system is part-time, full-time, drop-in care, nannies, friends, neighbors, grandparents—or some combination that keeps you in the workforce.
At LegUp, we believe that every working family should have the child care support system they need to balance their work and personal goals, whatever that looks like.
How to Build Your Child Care Support System
When most people hear the term "child care," they think of a single care arrangement, like a nanny or full-time enrollment at a center. But in reality, working families have always had multiple care options—even before COVID. The first step to building your child care support system is knowing your options. Make a list of all options available to you, whether it's sometimes, most of the time, or all the time. And if you can involve a partner or primary caregiver, it's helpful to go through this process together. All too often in heterosexual relationships, moms disproportionately carry the burden of figuring out the care logistics, which can take an emotional and mental toll over time.
Finding a child care support system that works for you can take some trial and error. You may find that mixing and matching part-time and full-time caregivers and drop-in care at a program fit your family's needs best. Or maybe not. Knowing your options will help you configure the right child care support system for you. Here are a few care options to consider when building your child care support system:
◦ Moving closer to family
◦ Switching shifts or adjusting your work hours (if possible) to cover child care
◦ Friend, family, neighbor care
◦ Full- or part-time enrollment at a child care program
◦ Hiring a nanny or au pair
Building your child care support system will take time ongoing effort and time to coordinate. The more care options employ, the higher the likelihood that one or multiple arrangements will fall through at some point. You'll want to have a back-up plan in place for such instances, like drop-in care or a family member.
It doesn't matter how many times we've been told that we can't do it all. As working parents, we'll never stop trying. And with the right child care support system, there's no stopping you from achieving your career and family goals.
Whether you're just beginning to build your child care support system, or restructuring your current one, let LegUp match you with child care programs in your area! Sign up for open seat alerts, join waitlists, schedules tours, and more, so you can get back to everything else.