Child Care During Quarantine - Crowdsourced Resources from HR Leaders

March 19, 2020
Guest Post
Friend of Drafted

Emily Schnure is on the HR team at Brightcove, a mother to 8-month-old Alice, and a wife to Alex, who works on the Product Management team at FireEye. Her sub-1,000 sqft apartment is feeling particularly cramped these days, but she's taking advantage of video calls to keep in touch with her colleagues and keep the HR function running smoothly.

As a working parent, you have plans in place to occupy your kids so that during the workday you can, you know, work. Coronavirus has thrown a wrench in all of those plans. Every last one of them. No daycare, no school, no nanny, no playdates, no music class, no visits to the library. Grandma and Grandpa can't even swoop in and save the day. So, what are we working parents supposed to do? 

The answer is: support each other and get creative. After all, you suddenly have 40+ new hours with your tiny humans that were previously tended to by someone else. You need ideas, and lots of them, fast. 

I'm on the HR team at Brightcove. Brightcove is a fantastic place to work and already really supports parents (read: amazing parenting leave, epic Halloween party, take your kids to work day, to name a few). When we decided to go fully-remote for Coronavirus containment and to keep our employees safe, we made a Slack channel for parents to share ideas for entertaining their kids during the day and to commiserate together. I've been so impressed with how the Brightcove parent community has really come together on this! We have ideas flowing back and forth and, of course, memes to keep our humor up and sanity in check. There's a real sense of solidarity. 

My daughter, Alice, is only 8 months old, so many of the ideas shared won't work for her (though, I might tune into the Cincinnati Zoo daily "Home Safari" at 3p for my own entertainment). However, I have a lot of friends with older kids and I found myself sharing all these ideas with them. I made a Google Doc to make it easy to keep the list of ideas updated, as well as to encourage people to add their own ideas and share it with others. 

This document is organized into sections: Virtual Tours, Online Classes, General Activities, Active Activities, Arts & Crafts, and other documents/articles with resources. You can pick and choose based on what you need that day or in that moment. 

Have your kids been playing soccer in the backyard all morning and need to chill out? Have them take a virtual tour of a museum in a different city or country. 

Did your brainiac cruise through all the take-home homework their teacher gave them? Try one of the online subscriptions that are being offered for free right now by many education companies. 

Or maybe you need your kids to get up and move a bit to burn off some energy. Head on over to GoNoodle.com and check out their selection of dance classes. 

The key to this doc is that it's crowd-sourced. If we all add our ideas to the same document, we all reap the benefits of the expanding community of parents utilizing it. So, take a look at what's there, add your own ideas and share it with other parents who need some help right now. Plus, fast-forward to next winter when school is closed because of a blizzard, we can all revisit this document!

From one working parent to all of you, good luck! I know we can get through this. 

PS: A few things that my spouse and I have found helpful in managing care for our daughter:

  • Coordinate schedules: figure out who has meetings when and try to stagger them so someone can be on kid duty. 
  • Block your calendar when you *must* be on kid duty: I've blocked my calendar during the times when I know I need to be on the floor stacking cups for Alice to knock over or reading Pout Pout Fish and Llama Llama Red Pajama on repeat. I made the event public so that people know. You can even tell your team that they can schedule things during that time, but you'll have a pint-sized guest with you. 
  • Bring your kid on a video call! Alice joined me on a video call yesterday and spent the whole time blowing spit bubbles at my colleague. Certainly not ideal for every video call, but we need to make work work with our lives as parents. 
  • Take it in shifts: Now that we aren't commuting, one of us starts work when we wake up so that they can take a kid duty shift in the middle of the day. For example, I'm writing this at 7a while my husband is on the floor enticing my daughter to learn to crawl (quarantine is probably not the best time to become mobile...)

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