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Pandemic Week 2

March 28, 2020

We are still safe and fine.

It truly has been a joy to spend extra time with LO, especially just as her vocabulary and personality is exploding. It can be tiring, but it is also wonderful to have so much extra time with her. To prepare for the quarantine, I selected a few new toys for LO, and we’ve been doling them out. Some neighbors gifted us a used IKEA play kitchen their kids had outgrown, which has been a hit. I purchased a water table with an expiring store credit, but it hasn’t been nice enough to break it out yet.

I’m a person who does better with some predictability, so I put together a schedule for weekdays. LO is too young to entertain herself, so T and I divided up childcare responsibilities during the hours of 8 am – 5 pm, taking care to deconflict our meetings and other commitments. Assuming LO naps 1.5hrs/day, we each get ~26 hours of work during this time block. Adding in evening / weekend work I can hit my target of 32 hours. I plan to use paid leave to cover the rest, although it is unclear if that is necessary since I am salaried exempt. My deadlines aren’t moving, so I’m stressed about that, but 40 hours is not going to happen, at least not if we are in this for the long haul. We take from 5pm to 7:30 pm as family time, which is also when we get basic daily chores done (cook dinner, dishes, dog walking, baths). It’s been working OK. We are a little flexible with the schedule, but it is a great starting point.

People have started actually turning the video feature on during some of our work meetings in order to try to enhance connection and maintain some culture. There seem to be varying levels of understanding about having a small child at home and trying to work. I know I’m not the only one, so it is surprising how the issue still seems to be somewhat unspoken/hidden so far – at least on one of my projects.

We were able to get grocery delivery, including whole milk for LO. I have mixed feelings about relying on delivery services and the workers – but ultimately it seemed like the best choice at the time. Many items are still sold out or low stock, but we have what we need. Instacart workers are planning a strike, and I support that choice. Companies need to pay the workers better, even if they just pass the costs onto the end customer.

Our net worth is plummeting, just like everyone else’s net worth. We’re buying into the market through our monthly paycheck retirement contributions. We are still millionaires. That would be a sad benchmark to dip below, even if meaningless, so I am sort of aware of it.

Daycare charged us for the 2.5 weeks closure during March, then suspended tuition for April until they reopen. At first I was relieved, but am also having second thoughts. Staff are working from home on a limited basis (professional development) and using a special extra paid leave – but the extra leave is limited to about 3 weeks. Due to their association with one of our employers, we know they won’t go out of business. So far, staff are being paid… But I’m not sure how long they can pay staff. Anyway, we’ll see how long the closure lasts, and if this policy holds. I also can’t really see paying for 6+ months of childcare I can’t use, but maybe it would be the right thing to do. I really don’t know.

The news is infuriating, watching the government propose actions to help corporations while leaving little for individuals. Maybe they landed somewhere sensible – I haven’t looked into the details of what was passed. The one-time cash payments for many are good, but the enhancements to unemployment seem more critical. There are no perfect solutions, but there has to be something more sensible than off-the-rails capitalism and little protection for the average worker.

I seriously wonder if America will come through this. No matter what actions are taken, this pandemic will result in both severe economic costs and lives lost. It will be easy pit sides against one another: one saying the economic cost of countermeasures was too great, and the other saying the loss of life was too great due to government inaction. We can expect bad actors to take this as a convenient opportunity to further manipulate public emotion to destabilize our country. We need to stay aware of this.

Now that it has been nearly two weeks, I’m getting a little cabin fever, despite our multiple walks daily. I’m sure I’ll be fine, but it is definitely different.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 30, 2020 4:25 pm

    Through small biz friends, I see they finally got 8 weeks of paycheck coverage for their small businesses and their employees so that’s a huge relief for them at least. I’m not sure what it does for freelancers and individuals but I’m hoping more individuals get the help they need.

    We have been doing day to day determinations of how to split our child-minding, dogs, feeding everyone, and work duties instead of a more organized schedule. I don’t know why that’s been working ok for us when I MUCH prefer a schedule. It might be because a 5yo has preferences and opinions and this one doesn’t necessarily appreciate a very strict schedule. I don’t do well with the existence of a schedule if we’re not following it, I get stressy.

    We have another five weeks to go…. we can do this!

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