New Normal: Parents Balancing Work, Childcare At Home Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

BOSTON (CBS) — Daycare centers like Kinder Care officially closed Monday, and now only emergency centers for the children of essential workers will be open.

“In the basement, my wife is taking a call with the laptop on the ironing board and the kids are playing,” said parent Anant Aggarwal. “She is holding the baby in the wrap and the daughter is playing on the carpet.”

This is the new normal for families across Massachusetts. The Aggarwal family is taking it one day at a time with a 5-year-old and a baby at home.

”He’s five months old and requires a lot of food and clean up and being put to sleep, so it’s not easy.,” Anant said. “Definitely not easy working and taking care of the kids. Two parallel home offices and a household under one roof.”

The emergency daycare centers are for the children of those on the front lines of combatting the COVID-19 outbreak and have to work. The YMCA of Greater Boston has several locations on the list.

“We feel like there are families who don’t have the option of not working, work remotely, can’t work from home,” said James Morton president and CEO of YMCA of Greater Boston. “They are required to be on the job, so our position is that we want to be there for those families.”

Anant and Rupam are both engineers. With daycare off the table, they have no choice but to get creative.

“I try to give my daughter activity and put my son to sleep and then go into a meeting,” Rupam said.

And explaining the situation to their 5-year-old daughter Saanvi hasn’t been easy.

“That’s the other challenge we have– how to keep her engaged,” Anant said. “We are trying to give her some activities, but the screen time has definitely increased significantly, which is not a good thing. But it’s hard to keep a 5-year-old engaged without their friends and daycare.”

“It took me two days to convince her that it’s ok to stay home. She was like ‘I’m missing my friends,’” Rupam said. “She said she could stay today but tomorrow she has to go.”

As confusing and surreal as these times are, both parents look to their 5-month-old, Pranay, for a bit of comic relief.

“The good thing about this is this guy doesn’t care what’s going on in the world right now,” Anant said. “He’s just having a good time at home with his parents.”

The Aggarwal family. (Photo Courtesy: the Aggarwal family)

As for the emergency centers, hundreds have now opened across the Commonwealth to ensure all families in need have access. Because right now, there are a lot of people who can’t work from home.

“We want to provide their children with the kind of care and services that they need,” Morton said.

The governor said these emergency centers should still only be used as a last resort. All locations will operate under a strict set of guidelines and safety regulations from the Department of Public Health.

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