what are my obligations to my team when I’m also caring for a toddler full-time?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I work from home full time (including pre-coronavirus) and am typically very busy and focused all day while I’m working. I have a one-year-old son who is normally in daycare full time, but of course, he is now home with me. My husband is also working from home, but he is a psychiatrist so is seeing patients virtually most of the week from 9-5 and just really can’t have a toddler in the room or be distracted at all while doing that.

So childcare during the day primarily falls to me. And Lord help me, I cannot work while taking care of my toddler. I mean I try, but nothing really gets done. My boss and coworkers are aware of my situation and are generally understanding. They do still attempt to put the same amount of things on my plate that they used to, but when I push back or gently let them know that no, I cannot meet that deadline, they have been understanding although they might be frustrated. I am actually the only one at my company (about 20-30 people) with little kids (some have no kids, and some have teenagers or adult children), so even though the ones with teenagers will say “yeah I know, it’s crazy, I get it,” I feel like they don’t really get it.

One of my coworkers, when I first let her know about my situation, said “Well, you can work at night.” (She is a very nice person and was not trying to be rude in any way). And the truth is, my son goes to bed at 6pm and is a very good sleeper. And on weekends my husband has no patients so technically I could work all evenings and weekends to get in my 40+ hours/week that I usually work. But…I would be so miserable. I am already so stressed out about everything going on in the world and am losing my mind. I really cherish the few moments I have to just relax with my husband in the evening or take a long walk with my family on a Saturday. But when I assure my manager and my coworkers that I am doing the best that I can, is that honest if I am still retaining a bit of free time? I do still work some evenings and weekends, but not all, and I am still trying to get 8 hours of sleep every night.

I am still getting my full salary, and given that so many people are not right now, I worry that my willingness to accept full pay for part time work (in addition to the money I’m saving from not paying for daycare) is ethically problematic. But the alternative I fear would wreak such havoc on my mental health.

Readers — thoughts?

(One quick one from me: Can your husband block out a couple of hours a day to not have patients so you have some uninterrupted time every workday? He could even potentially shift some those appointments to the evening after your son is asleep. I’m sure that’s not ideal for his schedule, but this isn’t ideal for yours either — and right now he’s taking none of the burden of the situation while you’re taking all of it, and that’s not right.)

{ 737 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    The letter-writer has commented with more details — I’m pinning her comment just below. Please read it before commenting.

    Also, some commenters are missing that the LW says she works some evenings and weekends but doesn’t want to work them all, so please don’t take her to task for not working any.

  2. OP*

    Hi Everyone, and thanks Alison for answering my question! Just noticing the trend here, I wanted to clarify a few things that either weren’t clear in my letter or have changed (it’s been several weeks since I wrote in):

    1. My husband is a resident, so actually doesn’t have as much control over his schedule as, say, a private psychiatrist. Other people do the scheduling for him for a lot of things. When he can, he tries as hard as he can to schedule patients during my son’s naptime or bedtime.
    2. Relatedly, since I wrote this letter, his schedule changed as he shifted up a year in the residency program and he has been able to take on a lot more of the childcare than he used to.
    3. Please believe me when I say we are truly equal partners in this and he’s doing everything he possibly can. He in no way assumes this should just fall to me because I’m the mom. It’s just a difference in the nature of our work.
    4. Things have gotten more tense at work because daycare is open now, but with all of the daycare outbreaks and rising cases across the country, we don’t feel safe putting my son back yet. We are also looking for part-time nannies/babysitters, but have trouble finding ones without too much exposure who also feel safe working with us, since my husband now has to go into the hospital part time as well. Some of them don’t want to risk their own exposure either. Part of why we’re being so careful about this is that….
    5. I’m pregnant now, which is currently considered to put me at potentially high risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. It also makes me twice as exhausted and feeling burnt out.

    I hope this helps to add some context. I really appreciate everyone’s responses!

    1. ElizabethJane*

      I would honestly say my best advice is to stop trying to work while doing child care and stop trying to do child care during work times. If I try to run a meeting while also making sure my toddler isn’t eating directly from the sugar container/climbing on counters/torturing the dog/coloring on the walls I lose my mind. If I focus on just one it’s less of a struggle. It does suck to give up some night and weekend time but it’s less crazy-making than trying to do both full time.

      1. Natalie*

        Using EFMLA will exhaust their FMLA eligibility for the next 12 months, which they’re probably going to want when they have that kid.

      2. OP*

        Thanks NA! I have actually wondered the same thing Annony asked below, about whether I could still use that (I’m assuming not). Also, when daycare first closed, I did ask my boss if she would prefer that I use that and take leave or if she would prefer I just stay and do what I can (I told her that realistically it wouldn’t be 40 hours a week). She chose the latter, but then everyone still attempted to give me 40+ hours a week of projects. I’m realizing perhaps that would have all been useful information to include in my letter.

        1. Chewy Mints*

          Hi OP,

          I am at a very similar situation, minus being pregnant. It sucks for everyone, specially for the child who does not understand why mommy would rather be on the computer than with them (that’s how my toddler laid it out to me). I am going to go against the current here to say that self care and mental health are all still extremely valid, specially during a pandemic. I realized I was trying to work and be a mom as if nothing had changed. But it has, and expecting parents to be able to work their regular jobs in the midst of this pandemic is nonsense. After both me and my child broke down in angry tears one afternoon, I decided we had had enough. My husband is considered essential, so there is that – we are home alone. I was expecting too much understanding from a child that all of a sudden was being confined to 5hrs of screen time without any interaction from a fellow human being other than exhausted angry me. I tried the whole work at night/weekends thing, but what some people don’t realize is that depending on your child, you are drained to the point of no return when bed time comes around. I just could not do it.

          I ended up having a conversation with my manager and HR this week and we have agreed to reduce my work hours by 60%. Some of my work got reassigned, and we have created systems for people to either go around me when I am not available OR have the information ready to go for me to review when I am online. I am benefiting partially from the Families First Act as well as saved up sick leave.

          Very few of my coworkers are parents and I am very lucky that several of them are supportive and have actually encouraged me to work this arrangement with my boss. Good luck, but your sanity and health come first!

    2. Frank Doyle*

      I believe you that your husband is an equal partner. But how does scheduling patients for when your son is asleep help matters?

      1. Tuckerman*

        I’m guessing so he can be available to take care of their child when he is awake, e.g., if he sees a patient in the evening, he can take off an hour in the morning so she can work.

      2. White rabbit*

        I believe the idea is that then he has a block of time free during the day when he can take care of the child and she can work. He’s shifting his work hours a bit, like so many are suggesting she should.

      3. Non-prophet*

        This helps for two reasons:

        1) If husband has appointments while son is asleep it means that OP doesn’t have to try to keep her son quiet/occupied/out of the way during her husband’s appointments….which in turn might mean that she can work during those times. I’m not sure what their home set up is like, but keeping a one-year-old quiet is nearly impossible. My husband and I live in a two-story 2,000 square foot house and when our daughter starts crying or squealing, you can hear her anywhere in the house. On our calls, this is annoying and disruptive. But on a telemedicine psychiatry appointment, it would be even more disruptive.

        2) If her husband schedules appointments while the little one is asleep, he might have more flexibility to help with childcare once the little one wakes up.

      4. ANC*

        As a manager, I would expect you to either admit you can’t do full time and accept a part time salary (I’ve had two employees ask for this accommodation or work when you can (weekends or early morning or evening). I think it is unethical to accept a full time pay check when you admit you’re not able to work full time. We have some employees take this route even if it’s just because they’re feeling stressed/worried. Hopefully most managers are ok with people advocating for their health and well-being. But pushing back and saying you can’t make deadlines that are fair/reasonable/normally in your bandwidth at this point would be a no- go for me.

        1. Nicole*

          She has talked to her manager about the reality and the manager wanted her to stay on a full-time salary even if she wasn’t working full time. Lots of people, for lots of reasons, throughout seasons of life have periods of lower productivity when they can’t get to things as fast as they normally do and work slides. It’s normal for people to have times like that and I don’t think it’s at all unethical to be fully upfront with your boss about your output and then to do your best to accommodate their desires.

        2. me*

          If I worked for an employer that had that response, all morale would be gone. I would do exactly what I needed, and no more.

          This response might be reasonable in normal situations, but we are in the middle of a global pandemic. If my employer couldn’t offer flexibility, additional PTO, paid sick leave, or other support, I’d be looking for a new position stat.

            1. ANC*

              How are others supposed to take up the slack for more than 4 months? If someone goes on maternity leave, we hire others to take their job for the time being. It’s not being fair for the team that has been picking up the slack for a long time. We’re allowing everyone to tell us how math hours they can work. If it’s reduced capacity that’s fine- we can hire temp employees in the meanwhile. It’s the same for people who are taking care of older family members, people with psych issues, etc… it’s not heartless- it’s protecting your team from taking on more than the they can take for months on end.

              1. Ducky*

                It is also no fair that we are in a global pandemic with so few social safety nets to help people in these times.
                Yes it is not fair for the people picking up the slack and it isn’t fair for the parents who are being asked to do two full jobs concurrently either.

                1. ANC*

                  Right. We haven’t asked anyone to come back to work, work more than they can, we’ve protected all wages through PPP, but we’ve given people to ability to assess their own ability to work. It’s not a punishment- it’s their personal choice (no questions asked- just what they can reasonably do at this time). Everyone was given three months to figure this out. Our new normal is that nothing might be normal for months to come. Now we have to plan for at least the next 6 months and can’t have teams burn out. And we’ve have MANY employees at the breaking point ask why they’re pulling 13 hour + days while “so and so” continues to miss all deadlines, only work on one project. So now we’re allowing people to pick the hours they work (as we have been) but if there is no solution in sight, we need to cover those positions.

                2. Cj*

                  There is leave that allows you to receive two-thirds of your normal pay for a significant period of time. You’re also eligible for unemployment If you need to care for a child due to covid-19, even if you quit your job. so there are at least a couple different social net options in place. sure, this may affect your career or ability to return to your job in the future. But employers can’t continue to pay employees that aren’t working. and co-workers sent need to continue to pick up the slack after 4 months. This is true especially now that daycare is open. The OP may have good reasons not to want to send their child to daycare, but at this point that is their choice.

          1. Beth Jacobs*

            I’m not sure you’d convince any new employer to give you fulltime pay if you’re “not getting anything done”. I don’t think OP’s manager is asking for 100 % productivity, but maybe a bit closer to 70 % than 0.

            1. HRAsstMgr*

              Want to clarify that my me too was that I would be looking for new employment if my company had the attitude of the above. I am very thankful for my employer. They are “family comes first” and they know we are ALL doing our best to keep up productivity. And certain ppl will be more impacted than others by the childcare issue. But they want to support us for as long as their cash flow can. No one has been asked to take a paycut except for management who took 20%. Now I acknowledge that if we cannot keep business up enough things would change. But while the company can afford it, they should be more supportive.

    3. Third or Nothing!*

      Ahhh, OK, #1 makes so much sense why it’s been a struggle for y’all in light of #3.

      I commented as a reply up above that one thing that truly helped me was carving out certain times where I am focusing all my attention on my daughter. She’s 3, so further along than your little one, so I don’t know if it will fully solve the problem. That being said, having dedicated times where I can be fully present with my daughter has helped so much in reducing tantrums and overall neediness, as has a loosely defined schedule (i.e. in the morning she watches a movie, then we take a walk, then she plays independently until lunch, then we take another walk, then it’s nap time, then she gets to watch a show, then it’s time for another walk, then it’s family time until bedtime). It took a while for her to adjust, but she’s pretty OK now with not getting Mommy’s full attention and understands that while I can help her go potty and get snacks, and she’s welcome to play in the kitchen and chat with me while I work, when I’m working I need to be concentrated on the task at hand. Whether that will work for you or not depends on your child’s developmental level, of course. A 13 month old is probably not going to get why Mommy can’t cuddle and play all the time.

      Would you like some resources for independent play activities for young toddlers? I still have some bookmarked from when she was younger.

      1. Dahlia*

        That’s just not probably going to work with a one-year-old for longer than five minute or so. Their brains just aren’t there yet when it comes to independent play.

      2. Kewlm0m*

        Re: Would you like some resources for independent play activities for young toddlers? I still have some bookmarked from when she was younger.
        I would, I would! Baby is 4 months now, but looking ahead.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Here are some links. I’ll include some notes of what my feisty daughter enjoys the most with them.

          https://www.thefussybabysite.com/blog/30-hacks-to-keep-your-baby-or-toddler-entertained-for-more-than-5-minutes/ – she likes cleaning (also works with a slightly damp rag by the way), pouring things back and forth (I used ping pong balls instead of rice because she tried to eat it!), painting/coloring inside a cardboard box, playing with magnets on the fridge

          http://chicklink.com/20-activities-for-a-toddler/ – she likes to “paint” with water on construction paper, play scavenger hunt for toys, blowing bubbles, playing with water in a plastic bin

          http://www.candokiddo.com/news/2014/11/18/tummy-time-finger-painting-sensory-play – this one you can actually do right now with your little baby! And big kids love it too. :)

          Other things Little Miss Feistypants enjoys: playing with the water hose or her tiny squirt bottle (she calls this a water party), puzzles, blocks, playing pretend with her stuffed animals, throwing balloons up in the air and trying to keep them from touching the ground, having a dance party (highly recommend Sandra Boynton for songs you won’t hate), coloring, gluing pom-poms or popsicle sticks or scraps of paper onto construction paper, stringing beads onto pipe cleaners (pipe cleaners are easier for little fingers to grasp than string), playing with a shape sorter, read books (she has them memorized now and will “read” to me or her toys). Between age 1 and 2 her favorite thing was to take things out of a bin and put them back in. I have no idea why.

          This ending paragraph is more of a long-term strategy that won’t be much help with the immediate situation, but if we go through something like this again here is something we started early on that’s paying off big time right now. I noticed that around 18 months or so, she started wanting to do whatever Mommy and Daddy are doing. She wants to help work on the car, do the laundry, cook, clean, garden, whatever. If we could find a safe way to include her, we could actually get stuff done even though it took much longer. There was quite a bit of upfront investment in teaching her to do things but she’s getting more and more helpful as she gets older. She even has chores she does all by herself now, like feeding the dog and cleaning up her messes. Also! Organizing our house so things are accessible to her helped with independence from an early age. She has a bin in a bottom cabinet with her snacks, a drawer all her own in the fridge, all her toys are on low shelves stored in small bins she can pull out herself. Doing this has saved our butts during this pandemic. Seriously.

    4. New Jack Karyn*

      Oh, I’m glad he’s able to help out more! Has it helped your ability to maintain focus for work, overall?

    5. Another resident spouse*

      The most realistic option might be to shift your working hours to where you start work later in the day, break for dinner/ putting toddler to sleep, then at some point work a couple of uninterrupted hours in the evening or during a block on the weekends. That depends entirely on what your job is like tho, so grains of salt etc.

      No kids here, but my spouse is a resident too so i completely understand how much their schedules are bonkers, change constantly, and out of their hands. What have other resident families done in his program? Maybe that network can help with finding some child care options. There may be med students or spouses of new interns that just moved and would welcome the work – maybe your spouse’s residency program coordinator could keep an ear out?

      1. LG*

        This is similar to what my friend and her husband do, although the timing is a bit different. She gets up early and works 7 am-3pm with a lunch break. Her husband has their toddler during that time, then at 3 she takes over toddler care and her husband works into the evening. Their toddler naps something like 1-3 so they are both working at that time (and try to schedule their calls and video calls during that time when possible) so the husband is working 1-8 or 9 with a dinner break. It’s an exhausting schedule for the parents but they are both getting their work done. I wonder if the OP and her husband could set some of the time that he’s not seeing patients aside as her work time when he’s definitely doing the parenting so she can have those as definite work times. It also might help with the coworkers if they know she has certain times she’s definitely working. But overall this is, basically, an impossible situation that is so stressful for everyone. I hope something works out, whether it is going part time or your husband’s schedule continuing to ease up, or cases going down in your area so you feel comfortable with daycare or a sitter.

    6. blink14*

      This has been a huge conversation at my university of how to handle work and research while handling childcare. Our main campus is in a state that still has heavily restricted daycare guidelines, so everyone with young kids is pretty much at their breaking point. My manager is working full time from home with a 5 year old, and is working around babysitting hours and taking a couple of afternoons off a week until hopefully daycare opens up next month. You aren’t alone!

      Does your husband have blocks of time during his day where he doesn’t have patients? If it’s an hour, you could compare your schedules and use those times to switch off so you can get work done. If that’s not a possibility, I think really the only option is to adjust your work hours. At some point, it will become unsustainable all around – for you and your family, and your coworkers. Perhaps you block off the morning, commit to working during your son’s nap hours, and then doing a couple of hours of work at night. It’s not ideal, but it may be necessary. I also wonder if you can take small blocks of vacation and personal time, though you may be planning to save that for part of maternity leave.

      I think something to remember is that most people are sacrificing productivity and hours in some form, and that’s acceptable right now at most businesses. But, the longer this goes on, the less accepting they may become, and we all have to figure out a way to make things work as best we can.

    7. Anon Anon*

      With this additional information, then I think the situation is that much more tricky. If childcare options are available, then I think you probably do need to think about giving up free time in the evenings and weekends. At least until you secure childcare that you feel comfortable with on a daily basis. Because despite the risks, keeping your child home now is a choice when before it was not.

      I can only imagine how exhausted you must feel. However, I am concerned that your employer’s flexibility may be more limited now that there are childcare options open. Could you take some sort of leave if you feel that working on evenings and weekends isn’t feasible until you find childcare?

      1. Dahlia*

        I think framing the decision not to send your child to something that has a very high choice of causing them permanent life long disability or death as a choice is an unkind thing.

        1. Anon Anon*

          For many employers it is a choice. And I don’t think it’s unkind to frame it that way when that is the way it will be perceived by many employers and many of her co-workers.

          We all have to determine what risks we are or are not willing to take.

        2. Natalie*

          Except that child care, and children in general, are at incredibly *low* risk of this disease. Scary headlines aside, the serious complications such as MIS-C are incredibly rare and death even rarer. Relative risk also matters, the child is far more likely to catch COVID19 from their father than they are at daycare.

          1. Lana Kane*

            The child can still be a carrier and infect others. We shouldn’t forget that we shouldn’t just be concerned with minimizing personal risk, but also the risk for other around us.

            Also, as a parent, I don’t care, like at all, that covid complications are incredibly rare in kids. I don’t want my kid catching it, period. What kind of parent would I be if I were so laissez faire about my child catching a disease, much less one we don’t yet fully understand?

            1. Amy Sly*

              In that case, you should never send your child to a daycare or school ever. Do you have any idea how many kids get sick from other community diseases spread in those biohazards? Colds, flu, strep, pinkeye, E. coli, whooping cough and measles if you’re in anti-vax territory, plus parasites like lice, fleas, bedbugs …

              1. Lana Kane*

                I don’t feel that you’re arguing in good faith here. This is not the same as normal exposure to diseases for which we have vaccines or known modes of treatment. Hence why I said “much less one we don’t yet fully understand”.

                1. Mr. Tyzik*

                  Sure. Send your low risk kid to school to become the carrier of COVID to give it to you, and let your child be the conduit to your death, and then have to live that everyday.

                  You’re right Lana, this isn’t arguing in good faith. We don’t know about COVID like we know other community diseases. It’s a highly loaded choice with disadvantages.

                2. Amy Sly*

                  I’m barren, so I’ll never have to debate whether or not to send my kids to daycare or school. And I’m not arguing that someone should send their kids to daycare or school in the time of Covid. I’m saying that kids bring home all sorts of diseases from daycare and school, diseases that aren’t Covid that do in fact kill adults.

                  Look into what happened to Japan once they stopped mandatory vaccination of schoolchildren in 1994 — they had a dramatic increase in flu deaths among the elderly. Look at the spread of basically any disease in a community, and the schools are the epicenters of transmission. If you don’t want your kids getting sick from anything ever or transmitting something that can get you sick, avoid places where large numbers of kids congregate.

              2. Nonprofit Lifer*

                We have utterly no idea how bad COVID is in kids or young people. This disease is really weird. It seems to attack every organ system, and has neurological complications we really don’t understand yet. Don’t act like parents (or anyone else) are being rediculous when we just *do not know* what the long term impacts of catching it will be.

            2. Observer*

              Actually, highly unlikely. That’s one of the really surprising things with this virus, and one that we don’t really understand. It is, however, one of the few bright(ish) spots as it’s very hard to get kids that young to take other measures that help stop / slow the spread.

            3. Nope*

              This is categorically not true for one year olds and younger babies. 20% have serious lung infections that can land them in the ICU and affect them for life. Source: my pediatrician.

        3. Cheluzal*

          But sometimes facts are unkind. I have a friend who was working remotely and when they opened the daycare back at her site she chose not to use it and when she was having a lot of frustration about not being able to manage her child and work – and by choosing not to avail of their daycare – she’s only being offered a part-time position next year.

        4. Anne Elliot*

          With respect to Dahlia, I think framing the issue in terms of “kindness” shuts down a very pertinent conversation. Childcare options are available. It is by no means established that sending kids back to daycare “has a very high chance of causing them life-long disability or death.” (A statement which, not incidentally, makes parents who have had to do so, or have chosen to do so, sound like monsters.)

          The OP may be 100% correct for herself and her family in choosing not to avail herself of options she thinks are unsafe. But her decision to forego those options mean she is stuck in a position where she simply cannot perform both as an employee and a mother, because it’s literally impossible to do two different full-time jobs at the same time. So I think she’s right to have ethical qualms about taking a full salary when she knows she is not doing full time work.

          I wonder if a possible answer might be to ask for your work hours and salary to be temporarily reduced to what you can actually achieve. I know it may not be financially possible at all, but could you and your husband scrape by if you went to part-time temporarily? Because if you’re not working your full hours, and either do not want to or can’t do so at this time (because you’d have to forego things like sleep and mental health), then to me the ethical choice, if feasible, is to reduce your hours in salary so that you are contributing to your company, and being paid for, what you realistically can do.

        5. Lavender Menace*

          I agree, but a lot of employers are still going to see it that way. I think Anon Anon was just laying that as a reality for the OP to consider.

        6. Beth*

          It is unkind, but it’s also a true thing that some employers will view it that way. Most employers don’t generally want their employees focused on childcare while working from home, for the exact reason OP is now experiencing: it’s terrible for focus and productivity, to the point where it’s nearly impossible to do both. Under the current very not-normal circumstances, some (the best ones) will be understanding that just because daycare (or school, come fall) is technically open doesn’t mean that it’s a safe or viable option. But plenty won’t care, and will tell parents they have to choose whether they’re going to find outside care for their child and work, or care for their child and either go on leave if available or quit.

      2. NW Mossy*

        Speaking from first-hand knowledge of my own child’s daycare center: their ability to be open today does not mean that you can be certain they will be open tomorrow, next week, or next month. This uncertainty creates major challenges for those of us who work jobs that require some level of consistent availability.

        Here’s what happens when there’s an outbreak at a daycare center:

        * The local health authority will close the center. The duration of the closure mandated by the health authority will likely be 1-2 weeks.

        * The outbreak means that children at the center and the staff who care for them are presumed to have been exposed. They need to self-quarantine even if they show no symptoms. This means that you can’t place your child in another center while your primary one is closed. It also means that there is some risk that an alternative caregiver (like a family member or friend) can be exposed through contact with your child.

        * If a significant number of staff contract COVID-19, there’s a good chance that the center will not be able to reopen even after the health authority deems it OK because they do not have enough unaffected staff to meet state-mandated ratios for care.

        Having seen the above play out in real time, I am a) glad I made the decision to pull my child from the center when I did and b) very cautious about sending her back. The anxiety of not being able to count on the childcare arrangement is as much a worry as her getting sick or spreading it.

        1. The Rat-Catcher*

          This is an excellent point. My son’s daycare stayed open for “essential workers only” before officially reopening in late May. My husband I were both permitted to work remotely through the end of May, and we kept him home (our older daughter had to be home anyway) but continued to pay for the daycare slot because we were afraid of being called back on short notice. (Which my husband was, but I’m still remote.)

    8. Student*

      So. Much. Sympathy. I’ve got 2 small people at home and my level of focus is less than stellar.

      I agree with others: try to schedule yourself out of this. For example, 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., followed by a morning of childcare, followed by a 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. worktime in which the kid is either napping or watching something on a screen. Throw in 7 to 11 on Saturday morning and you’re pretty close to full time work. The trick is that you have to be able to focus during work hours, so maybe your husband is 100% the caretaker through all the morning setup until he walks into his office and closes the door.

      The other thing is that you can’t be ready to jump up for urgent calls or messages during your daytime hours off. Those are *not* worktime unless otherwise arranged. If you can get your boss on board with something like this, I think you will feel much less burnt out and much more like the competent worker you are.

    9. Non-prophet*

      OP, we’re in a similar boat. I have a 13-month old who has a ton of energy. She only naps while someone is holding her, and only for 30-45 minutes at a time. She also doesn’t fall asleep until 9pm despite our attempts to instill better sleep habits. I get it the struggle—I really do.

      My husband often has 6 hours of video calls a day. He can and does block of sections of time on his calendar so that I can have some time o focus, but he is in a client-facing role (ie, kid can’t be on the call) and his company is looking at major layoffs. So there is definitely a risk if his team starts to feel he is less engaged with his work. A lot of the work has fallen to me.

      Our daughter just went back to daycare on a limited basis. But before that, here is how we made it work:

      1) even on husband’s busy days, he would try to block out at least one or two 30-minute blocks of time when he could primarily handle childcare. I would furiously work during those times.
      2) we let our daughter watch her favorite movie every day. I hate that she watches 2+ hours of tv every day, but nothing about this arrangement is ideal. That would buy me
      some time to respond to emails and run reports.
      3) I do routinely work nights, weekends, and early mornings. At my busiest, I would try my darndest to work 9-5 while also supervising our toddler. Then I would work again from 9pm to 2am, or whenever I got my work done. It was exhausting and definitely not sustainable. Now that she’s back in daycare, I do still put in some extra hours…maybe an average of 2-3 hours at night and about the same on the weekends. My employer is less focused on the hours we work, and more focused on whether our critical tasks are getting done. So if I only work 6.5 hours, but get everything done, I don’t feel guilty.

      You are not alone, OP. These are strange and trying times.

    10. Ann O'Nemity*

      OP, thanks for this additional context.

      I don’t see any easy answers here. You are unable or unwilling to access external childcare. You are unable or unwilling to pick up work during the evenings or weekends. It is unreasonable to expect that you can keep doing this indefinitely. This is not sustainable and you’re hurting your career. You might end up being passed up for promotions, fired, and/or burning a bridge with your current employer.

      I suggest you and your husband have some tough conversations about responsibilities, priorities, and options. Consider one or both of you taking a leave of absence, intermittent leave, or scaling back hours. If that isn’t possible, then you can consider taking some risks with childcare. Or, you just might decide that the best solution is to take advantage of your current position as long as you possibly can, regardless of the consequences.

      1. MPS*

        This.
        It sucks and it’s not sustainable. Somebody needs to make some hard decisions. It’s not fair, and in a country that cared about keeping it’s citizens safe, maybe you wouldn’t be facing down the choices of someone losing their job or their sanity, but sadly, we live in the US.
        Sending you good thoughts.

      2. JE*

        I agree with all of this, and I’m so sorry our country has made choices that leave us in this horrible spot.

      3. AnonMinion*

        I agree with all of this. By now all of my colleagues with small children have figured out a system to complete their high priority work done but one. He sticks out like a sore thumb and the general feeling is if all of the others have figured out a system why hasn’t he? His wife is a stay at home parent which makes it even more puzzling. Nothing about this is ideal, we all need to be compassionate and gracious, but that does not mean we can ignore people who are performing poorly or not performing at all indefinitely.

    11. Former Retail Manager*

      Obviously, not sure what industry you’re in, but can you leave your current employer and do some freelancing/consulting? Realistically, in light of your pregnancy, it seems like it’s a matter of time before you leave the workforce, especially if things continue on as they have with COVID, requiring you to care for the toddler while being increasingly more exhausted. If you can make it work financially, then I’d really consider leaving.

      1. fposte*

        I was thinking just this–the pregnancy makes this a finite situation, and if she can leave, enjoy some respite focusing on her toddler without guilt, and not worry about pregnancy-related needs into the work mix, that would be the best situation. While the OP doesn’t state her plans, I don’t think it’s realistic for her to return to work with an infant and a toddler when the toddler/work combination is already too much.

      2. Koala dreams*

        Unfortunately flexible jobs at parent friendly work places are not so easy to find. It makes more sense for the parent with the inflexible job to leave, than the parent with the flexible job. There might be other factors that changes things, but with just the information given I would recommend really thinking about the consequences before sacrificing the flexible job to accomodate the inflexible job. With two small children, you’ll need that flexibility more than ever. Make sure you are not going from bad to worse.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t know if there’s a way to sacrifice the inflexible job without sacrificing the husband’s whole medical career, though.

          1. Koala dreams*

            Well, not taking care of your children isn’t a reasonable choice. To be honest, I feel this whole discussion about whose career should be sacrificed is very speculative. If the mother was the one working in medicine, the answers would be very different, and yet very similar. For fathers child care is still seen like a choice, while for mothers it’s seen as a duty, and that’s very sexist. I mostly wanted to point out that it’s bad economics to only think about the pay. It’s too easy to overlook the intangible benefits, and yet they have a value too.

            1. fposte*

              The OP says he is taking care of the children, though. And we’re not just talking about pay but throwing over a whole career, which he quite likely has gone into major debt to school for. I agree with you about the intangible benefits, but I think there’d be huge tangible damage if her husband quit.

            2. Anonapots*

              We’re not just thinking about the pay, though. There have already been significant investments of time, energy, and money for the OP’s husband’s vocation. I don’t think either one of them would feel good about walking away from them for what is really a short term barrier. He’s a resident, which means he’s coming to the end of his studies. To walk away now would be a waste for both of them as partners, and yeah, that is something to consider when discussing the future of your family as a whole.

            3. JustEm*

              As a female doctor just 2 years out of residency, I cannot imagine anyone recommending a parent — male or female — to quit residency to take care of a child. I don’t know about OPs husband, but I have over $350K of medical debt and the only reasonable way to pay it back is to keep working as a doctor. If they were both doctors, they would have to find a nanny or put their child in daycare.

        2. Lady Meyneth*

          I’m sorry but I feel you’re going the other sexist way toward extreme feminism in a lot of your comments. OP is saying her husband does his share of parenting and juggles his schedule as much as posible, and we’re supposed to believe her.

          If sacrifices and hard choice need to be made, each family needs to make an individual choice. Yes, its true a lot of women get stuck with the crappy end of the stick. But saying from the outside that the solution is for the husband to shoulder all the sacrifices is no more fair than saying OP should.

        3. Beth*

          Given that the inflexible job in this case is a medical residency, I’m not so sure this logic applies. The family has already invested a lot into this career path, for OP’s husband to be at this stage–not only his time and energy, but also a lot of money that can’t be recouped if he quits now. Unlike most jobs, if he quits now it will be extremely difficult to pick back up in a year or two (not to say this is ever easy, but a residency would be significantly harder than most jobs). And unlike in most jobs with this problem, the inflexibility is finite; he can look forward to significantly increased flexibility and income once he finishes residency.

          That’s not to say that OP should automatically give up her career. Ideally, neither of them have to; ideally, they can find a nanny or other childcare, or OP can qualify for temporary leave to get them through the short-to-medium term, or a retired parent can move in temporarily to provide extra support, or a similarly-isolated friend can join their isolation pod and visit for a couple hours a day so OP can focus, or etc. But if push comes to shove and one of them has to quit…well, at least OP would probably be able to get a job SOMEWHERE in a couple years, even if it’s not as flexible a company. Quitting a residency seems like the absolute last resort to me, unless there’s something really unusual going on.

    12. Hex Code*

      Oh wow, OP! Honestly, given your bullet point #5, I would focus on taking care of yourself. If you were a friend I cared about and was giving advice, I would advise you to stop worrying about anyone besides yourself and your toddler. Selfish, perhaps. But our society as a whole sucks at taking care of pregnant people and postpartum mothers in normal times, and currently it’s even worse. No one is going to take care of you but you right now. Some commenters may view this poorly but if I were in your place I would say f*** it. Your health and the health of your baby is paramount.

      I believe you that your husband is doing the best he can, but has he put any boundaries around his work, or pushed back to his program, in the same way you have pushed back to your team? One of the reasons that many men, even the “good” ones, are complicit is because they do not take on this risk. They “can’t” push back; meanwhile you are putting your job standing at risk (just before going on maternity leave!) by being honest with your team about your child care responsibilities. Several months into this pandemic, so many women are quitting or taking leave from their jobs while their male partners have barely taken any professional risk. So I just want to interrogate the assumption that there’s no change he could make, not knowing all the details of your partnership and his personal situation.

      I am a mother of a toddler, who is currently back in daycare after three months of being home with us while my husband and I both worked full-time. Commenters recommending you just put in a 40-hr week in your “downtime” are….not realistic, to put it mildly.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, this is pretty messed up. The solution is not to just go “eff my coworkers, I’m the most important,” it’s to decide what needs to be prioritized and then make that happen. If the OP can’t work as many hours, that’s fine! That makes perfect sense and is reasonable. But she needs to go part time or take a leave of absence, she can’t just ignore the problem and half-ass her work.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I agree. It’s stated that some of those co-workers also have kids (though they’re older), and some doubtless have other family vulnerabilities or health limitations of their own. “Eff it, they can do my work” is throwing these other people under the bus.

        2. Jenise*

          As someone who is in your co-workers position, I agree with the post above. While I empathize with what you’re going through- you’re not truly full-time teleworking if other people are having to do your work on top of theirs. There some very unpleasant choices there for your family to make, but having that choice be that you continue to do things the same now and then feel hurt your co-workers aren’t more supportive isn’t a very realistic viewpoint.

          Also, for perspective some of us childless folks going to work and working more than 40 hrs a week have our own challenges (Like our health or taking care of loved ones) that would make taking on someone else’s work at work our breaking point… it’s helpful to remember that while we may not get what’s it’s like to have a toddler and trying to work full-time, that you may not have perspective on what we are going through either.

          1. JE*

            Thank you for this comment.

            Last year I was dealing with the illness of one parent, doing time out of town to care for another parent (plus her death and funeral) and another young relative’s decline and death. It was a god-awful year, even though my children were teens. We all need to have bad years without our employer’s punishing us – they got all of our lives in our good years.

            I don’t think it is a zero-sum game. Anyone, in any family arrangement, is deserving of time and patience, and corporations owe us that. At the same time, we need to all extend grace and consideration to all co-workers, even if they aren’t open about their personal challenges.

            1. JJ Bittenbinder*

              I don’t think it is a zero-sum game. Anyone, in any family arrangement, is deserving of time and patience, and corporations owe us that. At the same time, we need to all extend grace and consideration to all co-workers, even if they aren’t open about their personal challenges.

              This is a really good reminder that we never know what anyone else is going through. Thank you for this. I’ve never thought to myself that my coworkers have it “easier”, for lack of a better term, but I have lamented my boss’s seeming lack of empathy, and I could do better with remembering that I really have next to no visibility into her situation.

        3. Lady Meyneth*

          Agreed, and besides just ignoring her work is much more likely to hurt her references and long tem carreer than going part time or quitting.

    13. Koala dreams*

      Thanks for the context! It doesn’t change my advice, but it’s nice to hear from you anyway. Since you feel very tired from the pregnancy, your husband probably need to take on more than half the child care duty just now. I imagine you are both tired right now…

      Also, I want to comment on the “nature of work”. It’s not natural to put work above caring for your child, and if the work means you can’t care for your child, then you can’t afford the work. It’s just the way life is. I’m glad you are realistic about this, but your husband also needs to face the realities of being a parent.

    14. Jules the 3rd*

      Does his work have any child care options, or recommendations?
      Would you be willing to have your child go to day care one day a week?
      Can you shift 1 week day to 8hrs on a weekend for 2 weeks and see if that helps?

      If you aren’t comfortable with one day / week at day care (which is totally understandable!), then if you can afford the salary cut, you should probably ask your company for FFMLA accomodation and cut your hours officially. You’re not working full time, but feel pressure trying to get to a full-time workload. Letting go of that pressure will help, managing everyone’s expectations – your boss’s, your co-workers, and your own.

      Try a reduced schedule for four weeks, then see if the external situation’s improved enough to be comfortable with a day or two at day care. (I have a lot of hope about improvements if everyone wears masks, though school… ugh, trying not to think about school)

      The main things, to me, are:
      1) Set up a reliable / realistic schedule and let people know what it is
      2) Look for tools you might not normally use (eg, TV – I loved Backyardigans)
      3) Each week, take 10 minutes to assess your environment – how do you feel about daycare, have you gotten any nibbles on child care through the residency, etc; use that assessment to determine if you feel ok to change anything yet.

      1. Non-prophet*

        I think the idea of daycare one day a week would be great, except that is unlikely to be an available option at licensed daycare centers (but a sitter or nanny one day a week could be)!

        Here, daycares cut their capacities at least in half to comply with the new state guidelines. In addition, all the kids have to stay in “pods” or “cohorts” meaning the class roster has to be the same every day (I’m not clear if this is a state requirement or a way that our center is minimizing risk). The result is that daycares are only accepting students who enroll full time, often have to raise rates to still stay afloat, and still have long waitlists. (Some places will let you enroll full-time, but send your kid part-time…IF you pay the full time tuition…which might be like $500/wk)

        1. Anonapots*

          This is happening where I live, too. It’s a choice between not being able to afford full-time daycare or no daycare at all. It’s untenable at a systemic level, not just at a family level.

    15. blackcat*

      Given all of this, OP, and particularly that your husband is in residency, I really think the only way forward for you, unfortunately, is to drop down to part time if your employer will allow for it.

      I linked an article below, but the data pretty consistency is showing that infections go adults -> kids and very rarely the other way around with children under 5. Given that your husband is already working outside the home, daycare is unlikely to up your risk level that much. This was part of our calculation, too, when sending our child back. My family’s risk comes from my husband’s coworkers, not really the other kids at daycare. My child interacts with far fewer people (2 adults, 4 other toddlers) than my husband does on a daily basis.

      But I am also in a part of the US where cases are not rising. If you’re in FL or GA or AZ or SoCal, I *completely* understand why you wouldn’t want to send your child to daycare right now.

    16. Pandemic Parenting is Miserable*

      Hi OP! We are in similar positions – I also have a husband works in a clinical setting (he’s a vet though, less exposure than human clinician.) I’m pregnant and we have a 4 year old, and I need to get sleep and keep some downtime. I covered all childcare while he was working and our daycare was shut down March-May. I have a very flexible job and he has two weekdays where he’s off bc he works weekends so I can theoretically work full days then, with my family in the background of our small house. We could technically be making it without childcare now but it was horrible for me and my poor kid so we’re taking the daycare risk. Our state has a huge rise in cases and I’m still taking the risk. (Our state has a good response actually, we just have a lot of people. I wouldn’t send my kid back to daycare if I lived in TX.) Our daycare has gone from 40 kids to only 12 and I’m keeping her in until it closes again. This will go on for the next year, it’s not a temporary situation bc our country has managed this so terribly, and I need to be able to work. I think either going back to daycare or finding alternate, part-time childcare is your best option. If you really are the only person with a small child in your workplace, it’s not your fault that you can’t work to full capacity so this isn’t but it’s going to have repercussions for you if you are only working a very part-time amount for the next year.

    17. Properlike*

      That’s great context, OP!

      First of all — I went through 13 babysitters in a month when I had a toddler and a baby, until I found two great sitters in a row. So the struggle there is REAL, even without a pandemic. Which is not to scare you, but to say: That person is out there! There must be a high school/college student who is comfortable with the additional risk, through whatever factors.

      Second — you sound burnt out and exhausted. And I’m so sorry. Can you outsource the nanny search to a friend? This is something you’ll be needing in the next few months anyway, so consider it a head start on the process!

      I’m cheering for you. This time with kids that age is so relentless. But it’s also relatively short, even if it doesn’t feel that way when you’re going through it.

      1. Gail Davidson-Durst*

        For what it’s worth, our family has been pretty conservative about our potential COVID exposures, but we just made the call to let our 17yo take a nanny job for a single dad working full time from home. Even though it adds to our risk, we had to balance that against our daughter’s mental health – it’s important for her not to spend all day every day holed up at home!

        Anyway, I love the idea of a friend doing nanny searching, via networking and/or websites, and I think as time goes by, the OP may find more and more people willing to add their family to their “bubble” as long as you’re transparent about risk and controls.

      2. Alexis Rose*

        Yes. Also, I work with high school students and a lot of them are used to helping out their families financially but now are not able to find work. A part-time nanny situation would be a godsend for them financially.

    18. Genny*

      OP, one thing that can help with the work stress you may be feeling is to keep communicating. Let your colleagues know what days or times are harder for you to be available. Let them know what times are usually good to reach you. Let them know what you’re prioritizing today. Keep a spreadsheet with all the tasks you’re working on and their current status and save it in an easily accessible place so your coworkers know what’s going on. With more transparency, your coworkers will be able to adjust their expectations accordingly.

      For example, my coworker has a toddler and her childcare options are spottier early in the week, especially Tuesdays. She’s been very clear about that, which allows me to plan my time better. I know to plan an easier dinner on Tuesday because I’ll be working longer hours. I know not to wait around for her to respond to emails and just move forward with my work. I know I’ll need to modify my gym routine due to longer hours. I don’t mind any of that because I know going into how it’s going to be (also since her availability in the later half of the week is more reliable, I’m able to take my foot of the pedal of Fridays).

    19. Gamer Girl*

      I was in a somewhat similar situation two years ago: you must take care of yourself first!

      OP, I worked through a pregnancy as a freelancer with a toddler, and I almost lost my life because of it. I had only a handful of hours of childcare per week and had to use half for sleeping, throwing up, and lying on the bathroom floor because my morning sickness lasted for 6 months–a fate I would not wish on anyone.

      Pre-second pregnancy, I held it all together, worked all the crazy hours you could imagine, did scads of urgent work with only moments of notice in 15 minute bursts when needed during the day, did 80 percent of the childcare during the week… But you can only do that for so long. It is unsustainable. You have two babies you have to take care of now, it’s true, and it may feel like giving, giving, giving all of yourself because you “can” (vs your husband) is what you have to do–you feel like you are making sacrifices for your husband and children and your husband’s patients because they are important, but it is vital that you do NOT forget about yourself.

      However, not creating a plan that’s just “I don’t work at all” doesn’t work either, and it won’t be good for you in the long run.

      I’m sure your husband feels like he’s doing his best to share time with you, but he needs to keep pushing hard with whoever does the scheduling to get additional flexibility wherever he can so that he can take care of you and your children when you need it.

      Your life, your health, and your career are important and valuable.

      First piece of advice: Do whatever you have to do to stay off of your feet and rest when you are not working. You would be amazed how much harder a second pregnancy is on your body because of running around after a tiny person while you are growing another!

      Second, you must have working hours and non-working hours, and don’t look at work emails or communications when you are “off work.” Shift your hours to times that you feel the most rested and refreshed, whenever these might be. We are in strange times, and it sounds like your company is being flexible with you already, so officially shift some working times. Work when you say you will work, and stop when you previously decided to stop.

      Third, don’t take on anything extra, and let go of any extra obligations. No volunteering, no unpaid work, etc.

      Fourth, make sure that, from the first sign of trouble, you get help for you. Mental health during pregnancy is sometimes great and sometimes it’s downright scary (was my situation). You may have to take a leave of absence from work to ensure that you stay healthy, and that is OK! Take care of yourself!

      Fifth, everyone saying that childcare is easy to find probably has family who live near or are very, very lucky. My childcare providers (four lovely babysitters!) all moved away within the first 3 months of my pregnancy. It was really bad luck! Finding childcare when you are already overwhelmed feels like it is an impossible task. I suggest outsourcing this one to your husband, with the final vetting to be done by both of you.

    20. grace*

      This is really helpful context — this or another comment should be stickied at the top, so people don’t have to wade through the “your husband should help!!11!!” comments that are the 200 before this one to actually give advice that would be helpful.

      Personally, I do agree that you will likely have to shift your hours or possibly go to part-time, especially with a new baby – a lot of caretakers at my company did that, and while it’s not ideal, it was better than constantly delaying projects because someone was “here” but not in any sort of tangible way.

    21. Natalie*

      I would actually reconsider daycare in your position. The numbers just don’t support the idea that daycare is a significant risk, particularly if they are taking steps to reduce possible exposure opportunities. Texas has probably gotten the most attention for their reported increase in cases, but that number still represents 1/10th of 1% (or less) of kids in daycare. That’s not a hotspot by any reasonable definition. We have a lot of evidence from other states as well. If you’re basing your concern about daycare on news reporting, well, I’d dig a little farther into those numbers (especially locally) before writing off daycare entirely.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Did you not see the single SW Missouri summer camp with over 80 cases? A small, in-home daycare would be less risk than a school age summer camp / daycare situation, but OP’s caution doesn’t seem excessive to me.

        1. AVP*

          I don’t think the caution is excessive, but the truth is there aren’t any options that she’s missed, it’s just a shitty choice among shitty choices that we have right now. Plenty of parents are opting to roll the dice on either daycare or bringing someone into their home (even in New York, where we were hit quite hard early this year, this seems to be the more popular option), or someone takes a step back (might be more popular in less expensive/competitive parts of the country). The middle ground / third way type set-up is only possible if both parents have flexible schedules, and even then it’s barely tenable. If they do decide to go the daycare route, it’s a valid option that they shouldn’t need to feel badly about.

    22. MimiFish*

      I am in a very similar situation (4 year old, two year old and pregnant currently). I work from home while my husband has a job where he must go in.

      What’s worked for me is to start my day early while he takes on duties before he has to leave for the day. I am usually working by 6:30 a.m. He leaves a bit before 8. This gives me some solid time to focus. I schedule help during my meetings. Sometimes that’s all day, sometimes less. I readily acknowledge that having my mother and MIL nearby to help is a privilege you may not have. When my little one goes down for a nap I have another solid period of focus time since that is the 4 year olds quiet time.
      I have no one who will pick up my slack so have to get my hours in. It can be hard, but it’s doable.

      Good luck, I hope you find some help!

    23. Observer*

      Just so you know – you are at somewhat high risk, but if the childcare is doing their jobs reasonably well, your child is actually not at risk. Toddlers just don’t seem to get it and they don’t seem to be spreaders either.

      1. Cheluzal*

        Agreed. And they are being even more diligent than normal so that they don’t have to close because they need the money. Most of them are not large chains that can survive without weekly income. We are in Florida and we still send our son to daycare because it’s so good for him socially even though I’m at home. Even with just a parent testing positive (her kids were negative) and they still shut down precautions temporarily. We feel the benefits outweigh the risks. ‍♀️

    24. CorgisAndCats*

      Oh wow, residency? You have my sympathies. My husband’s residency schedule was unpleasant and I am very glad it is behind us. I completely understand why he can’t easily change his schedule and there isn’t a lot of room for pushback. It will end and he will have a lot more control over his schedule someday!

      I don’t have a lot of advice, just commiseration. One thing I have seen some friends do with success is find another family and isolate together (a bubble approach) and then watch each other’s kids one or more days a week. This approach allows everyone to have some uninterrupted time to get work done. Good luck and I hope something out of all these replies has resonated and will be helpful for your family!

    25. Work-and-Life*

      Thanks for the update! Explains why there is a difference in flexability (doesnt make it easier though, I’m sorry!).
      I agree with others who said to avoid trying to ‘work’ all day when your kid is awake…I found it just made both parenting and work go poorly, and i couldnt usually in good conscience charge those hours fully anyways, since i wasnt properly focused on my work. It just made it SO much more tiring because i still needed to squeeze in early morning and evening hours to actually get my time in/work done!

      Sadly I do see ethical issues with getting for a fulltime job while actually only working part time, for an extended period (a few weeks- 1 month or a couple hours a week doesnt seem like the same thing), without explicit agreement from your your employer. Particularly when you say there are now daycares open (though i can completely understand your concern with that as well!). If it will not jeopardize your ability to pay rent/mortgage/housing, feed yourselves, and pay for other true essentials, can you request a shift to part time work until you can sort out childcare?

      I too was in my first trimester during the time when my husband and I were both working from home, while paying for childcare that we werent using so our almost 2YO was home with us. I actually did work FT hours but both of us pitched in..however it was still EXHAUSTING as it meant starting at around 5 am most days for one and working evenings for the other (and sometimes both depending on workload!) . We are fortunate that cases are quite low where we are so are back to ‘normal’ now, so i cannot fully compare to your situation which sounds tiring and also very stressful. Good luck!

    26. EngineerMom*

      Does your company have a flexible work schedule program?

      I work for a fairly large company, and there’s actually a policy in place for this exact kind of situation – you sit down with your manager, work through what’s actually practical, and then make a plan. One of my coworkers did something similar when she and her husband and 3 kids moved several hundred miles away – she didn’t want to find a new job, as she really likes our team, but she also knew she couldn’t commit to a full 40-hour/week schedule.

      So she works 100% remote, at a reduced schedule. She negotiated a reduced salary as well, and commits to a certain number of hours per week (in her case, 30). She and her manager work through her workload to accommodate that schedule.

      If your workplace doesn’t have something like that, consider looking online for some guidance on flextime schedule proposals that might help you navigate your (very understandable!) need for a reduced schedule with your ethical concerns over retaining a full salary. Getting a plan out and on paper will also help your manager truly understand what’s practical as a workload, and will help you have a framework for what work you can accommodate.

      Good luck!

      1. Galahad*

        This is good advice — figure out the schedule and hours that work for you (with no overlapping childcare / work duties), and tell your employer.

        They may be willing to let you keep to reduced scheduled for same pay for a set period (e.g., 8 weeks), hoping that childcare will be more available later, or negotiate something new after that.

        Your employer sounds pretty decent so far. With an official plan in hand, you can push back on those co-workers.

    27. anonoDoc*

      I hope you are still checking responses. Residency is tough, with schedule changes every month etc, BUT your husband needs to speak with his program director. ACGME has clarified rules on time off, and depending on the culture of the residency, most residencies have moreover flexibility than residents know. and now with COVID and so much changing to video visits, there may be patients AND preceptors who would be interested in evening appointment hours, but you won’t know until you ask.

      I have been on both sides.

      Hang in there

      1. AnonoDoc*

        Typing on iPad is not my forte, clearly.

        “more flexibility” not “moreover”

        Also, extended leave for family situations is possible, though unpaid, in residency. It may extend his residency by months but it needn’t derail his career.

        Again, please make sure he talks to his program director!

    28. Adultiest Adult*

      This is a tough one. Your husband’s schedule cannot flex, so the reality is that yours will have to. Looking at the best of the bad options, it seems like you’re down to: send child to daycare/hire a nanny, cut your own work hours, or request to work a substantially different schedule. I’m seeing this play out with some of my own colleagues. Most have concluded that daycare is the most feasible if the important thing is that both parents can get their full-time work done. Young children are statistically least at risk for Covid anyway. We also don’t have the ability to swing substantially different schedules easily but some people are trying to make it work around the edges. Good luck.

    29. The Rat-Catcher*

      OP – based on these comments:
      “Also, when daycare first closed, I did ask my boss if she would prefer that I use that and take leave or if she would prefer I just stay and do what I can (I told her that realistically it wouldn’t be 40 hours a week). She chose the latter, but then everyone still attempted to give me 40+ hours a week of projects.”

      It sounds like your boss said you doing the work you could do was better than you taking leave. So I’m guessing if you go part-time or take paid leave, the company would not bring in someone to fill in the gap, and your coworkers are going to have even more on their plates in that scenario. If you want to go to part-time or take paid leave because that’s what you want, do it, but don’t do it out of some sense that it will result in a perfectly balanced workload (which isn’t a thing even if no one on the team has children). The alternate schedule, if your work allows for it, would help more in that regard.

    30. Middle Aged Lady*

      In my opinion what is ethical about anything these days is difficult for all of us to figure out. And we have had to make so many large and small decisions in a pandemic that our decision making ability is lessened.
      In a perfect world, we would carry each other as needed, until this is over. In this imperfect world, there are many variables. It all depends on the boss, the coworkers, the nature of the work, and the funding agency. And how much you need the income/insurance. Personally, I see how you feel guilty about taking a full check for less than fulltime work. But most workers can’t give it their all these days, or get it all done from home. That is a new reality.
      I have pulled extra weight at work for people with family obligations I didn’t have. I always assumed it would be there for me if I needed it. But for how long? That is the brutal question and one we can’t answer now.
      My (childless, retired) advice is to communicate often with your manager, and try not to worry about ethics. Best of luck to you!

    31. Nita*

      That’s a lot on your plate! I honestly don’t see how you can keep it up for long. Be careful – when you’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to get to the point where you can’t see that you’re in trouble, and thus can’t ask for help. You’ve got to stop before you get in that deep. Is going part-time a possibility at your office? I mean, really part-time, not 32+ hours but whatever you can realistically manage. I also hope you can find a nanny.

    32. Llama Lady*

      I am also pregnant right now, and I am simply amazed that you can find ANY time to work between pregnancy fatigue and chasing after a toddler. Between frequently getting up from my desk to visit the bathroom, distractions due to painful gas & bloating, and feeling so tired I can barely focus during certain hours of the day, I find it truly a struggle to maintain my previous 40-hour work week… and this is only my first pregnancy! You, my friend, are a superhero for even attempting to balance a pregnancy, a toddler, and a career.

      I agree with the other commenters who advise you to take care of yourself first. As long as you are being honest with your manager and colleagues about what you can realistically deliver and commit to (and it sounds like you are), I think you’ve got to be gentle with yourself. All of the suggestions for making more time to work are good ones, just also remember that your salary isn’t just about the time you put in, it’s about being able to achieve quality results (which I believe you can do even if you’re working at 60-70% of normal speed/capacity). You are still worth the value of your salary as long as you are contributing to your team’s success, even if you’re doing it in fewer, scattered hours.

      It’s very rare anyway for folks to be doing “real, focused work” for 40+ hrs a week, anyway – usually in an 8-hr day, I’d say it’s more typical for a person’s actual work output to come from 5-6 hrs of that day, and the rest is spent with context switching, emails, etc. IMO if you’re a knowledge worker, you’ve gotta just be outcome-focused, not beat yourself up for not churning 40+ hrs of output while you’ve got important family obligations. <3

    33. allathian*

      What’s your job like? Does it involve a lot of collaboration with coworkers? I assume your husband is working 5 days a week, Monday to Friday. I also assume you’re salaried, given the flexibility of your working hours. I just wonder if you could schedule, say, 6 hours on every Saturday for focused work when your husband is caring for your toddler?

      You’re also going to have to consider the future, given that it doesn’t seem like COVID is going away any time soon. If dealing with a toddler and trying to WFH is tough, it’s not going to get easier with a toddler and a newborn.

      Also, congratulations on your pregnancy!

    34. Anonther*

      I just want to offer you my fullest sympathy. I am based in the UK, and while nurseries could open from early June, ours is not able to open until late July. So, full time job. With a toddler. While pregnant. I am so unbelievably stressed and have spent many hours in front of the work laptop just crying from exhaustion.

      I am lucky that my manager and workplace is supportive, my husband and I both try to share the childcare as much as possible, but it is just too much. I want to do a good job and I want to be a good mother, but right now I am mediocre at best at both.

      My husband took some annual leave, so he could look after our child all day, and I could focus on work. That was really helpful. I am not sure if your husband would be able to do something similar?

      We’re running a marathon with an additional backpack, and they keep moving the goalpost further. It is hard work. Try not to work at night or weekends too much, you do need to recharge the batteries.

    35. Beth*

      OP, it seems like you’re in a really tough position. Realistically, you probably can’t get away with putting in part-time work for a full-time role forever. It’s not likely to be acceptable to your company, it’s not fair to your coworkers who have to pick up your slack, and you continuing to be officially full time (and receiving full-time pay) limits everyone else’s ability to plan around you and either cut projects or hire more personnel to cover the gaps.

      But you’re absolutely right that working full-time while providing full-time childcare is impossible. I’m not even a parent and I know better than to suggest that you can somehow care for your toddler all day and then do a full work week after bedtime and on the weekends! Just from what I’ve seen of toddlers, that’s wildly unrealistic.

      My hope is that you can find an option C. It’s very reasonable to not want to send your kid to daycare right now, but is there anything you can do to speed up your nanny search process? Can you offer higher pay than usual, can you offer full-time instead of part-time so they won’t need another job and the potential exposure that comes with that, has there been someone who’s maybe slightly higher exposure than you’d like but only slightly that you could reconsider? Do you have a family member (maybe a retired one, or a college student home for the summer) who could move in for a while to help tide you over until you find a nanny? Do you have a local friend who’s at a similar level of social distancing as you that could spend a few hours a day with your kid so you can focus on work? Would your employer consider shifting you to be officially part-time (and paid accordingly), so your workload is officially lower and they have official notice that they need to either cut back on projects or hire someone to pick up the slack? Is there any kind of leave you can take (paid or unpaid) that would protect your job for when you’re able to return, and would that be able to tide you over long enough to find a nanny?

      If there’s absolutely nothing else you can do, you may find yourself in a place where either you or your husband has to quit or you have to put your kid in daycare. To be clear, if you get to this point, it’s not because you’re not trying hard enough or because you’re a bad parent or a bad employee. The circumstances at hand are terrible; the lack of any kind of social safety net is putting a lot of people in a scenario where they have to choose the lesser of two evils with no good options in sight. I have my fingers crossed that you’ll find a way for it not to come to that, but if it does, please know that it isn’t your fault.

    36. 2 Cents*

      OP, just want to give you all the hugs. From my perspective, it sounds like you’re handling this as best as you can.

    37. Anonymousmeded*

      I work in medical education. Does his hospital not offer him extra benefits? Right now our healthcare system has arranged free child care for our first responders, amongst other things. (I don’t want to say too much and identify myself) I find that often residents don’t read their email and so they don’t even know these things are available. I’d ask him to speak to his program director or GME office about options.

    38. Jessica*

      My situation was extremely similar! I actually am in Canada and went back to work March 2 when my son was 16 months old and I went back to work already 14 weeks pregnant. Two weeks later, we were all sent home. My husband has also been working from home but once my toddler’s daycare closed, we tried to juggle childcare during the day but a lot of it fell on me. Which sucked too because I am a manager but also had a new director who had never worked with me before. I was also the only mother on the team – the only other parent had teenagers so completely different boat!
      Anyhoo my story ends sadly. After Easter weekend, I was let go permanently. I worked in travel so yea, Covid hit us hard. However, I told HR how unfairly I thought I was treated, being the only mother on the team, and they KNEW I was pregnant – so I felt like having the largest salary on team combined with having been on leave and going on leave again this summer, they felt I was an easy lay off. I had received nothing but good feedback throughout my time there and thought I was really till that point getting my work done despite childcare. However I felt I was totally discriminated against. I was doing work in the evenings and on weekends and I will tell you this lifestyle is NOT sustainable and you wanting to get a decent night sleep and not be working 24 hours a day is reasonable! I’m 32 weeks pregnant now and my son is now walking since all this went down and I cannot imagine if I was still working from home full time. The 5 weeks I did was hard enough. Basically, my work ended up increasing my severance so that I would be able to get maternity leave benefits again because their previous termination offer did not give me the insurable hours I needed to get mat leave unemployment again as I’d only been back to work since March. So despite not having a job to go back to in another year or so, things worked out in a weird way. But no – you are doing everything you can and employers HAVE to be sensitive and accommodating to this. Mine wasn’t – but the joke was on them as they ended up paying me almost up until the time I was going to go on mat leave again and I haven’t had to work! SO the fact you are pregnant too, I really empathize because it makes everything that much more exhausting! My child’s daycare also just reopened last week and we are not putting him back in ( I considered part time for when the new baby comes despite not working) but we also don’t feel safe with this decision and also think the safety procedures now in place are too ridiculous to deal with anyway.

  3. Sunset Maple*

    Speaking as the wife of someone who sees a psychiatrist: a mental health specialist who keeps 9-5 hours strikes me as incredibly inflexible. People who need psychiatric treatment have jobs, too. I agree with Alison that the husband/dad should be shifting some office hours to evenings, and sharing the parenting load. This is a family problem, not a mom problem.

    1. The Original K.*

      Yeah, I often saw my therapist in the evenings. My preferred appointment time was 6 PM and I know she saw people after me. I don’t think she kept late hours every night, but she definitely kept them sometimes. That’s the first thing that jumped out at me about this letter.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I was thinking this as the wife of a therapist, who sees his own counselor – my husband’s hours are only 8:30-4:30 because he works at a college; he sees his own counselor at 6 p.m. and as far as I know most therapists, psychiatrists etc often have evening and even weekend hours.

      I wonder if OP’s husband could block out a few hours each day and at least move his paperwork and that sort of thing to the evening or a weekend, to give her a break?

    3. Marny*

      This. Particularly now that most therapy appointments are via telehealth, It seems odd that the husband is not willing to shift his hours to help his wife. I’m sure he has patients who could (and may even prefer) weekend or evening appointments.

    4. Alli525*

      YEP. I very badly needed a therapist a few years ago, but I worked 10-hour days, 5 days a week. Luckily I live in what is probably one of the therapy capitals of the world so it was relatively easy to find someone who I clicked with AND had evening hours.

      1. Circe*

        Out of intense curiosity, and please ignore if this is too personal, but what city is the ‘therapy capital of the world’?

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              My guess was Philadelphia, but frankly it could be any metro area with over 500M people easily.

            2. Alli525*

              Ding ding ding! I live in NYC. But one of my best friends lives in LA and you’re absolutely right that it’s another one of those major hubs for therapy. Maybe we’re the east coast capital and they can take west. :)

    5. Third or Nothing!*

      Yes! My husband’s therapist sees patients as late as 6:00 PM. To make up for the long days, she works fewer days during the week.

    6. Eether Eyether*

      Yes, I got stuck at the 9-5 part. I am at the office all day and I would sure hate to be talking to my psychiatrist while I’m at work…

    7. KayDeeAye*

      One of my dearest friends is a psychologist, and even pre-COVID, she had some evening hours once or twice per week. I honestly thought that was standard practice. Dentists and family practice doctors generally offer at least a few early or late appointments – surely psychologists do as well?

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        It depends a lot on the service. While private practice generally allows people that flexibility (and most take it) a lot of more specialized services will not.

        So for example, when I did counselling through a private charitable organisation, I could schedule evening clients, but my contract within the NHS limited my working hours more. (And this can be true in the US as well – my friend works for a large hospital in CA as a psychologist, but since her team liases closely with other medical professionals and needs access to certain equipment, they are limited to normal working hours.)

        However, a service that allows him to work from home seems likely that it would also allow flexible scheduling.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          Yes, I can see that not all psychologists have flexibility, and perhaps the OP’s husband is one of those. But if he has any flexibility – and chances are that he does – both he and the OP need to take advantage of that.

          She just seems so, you know, resigned to the idea that this is Entirely. Her. Responsibility. Which kind of breaks my heart.

    8. Ladylike*

      I couldn’t agree more. Hubby needs to step up and help – no one chose this situation, and he’s totally getting off the hook here.

      Another suggestion, depending on the restrictions in your area, is to have a trusted relative or friend come by and watch the baby for a couple of hours a day or a few times a week. This might be easier with schools being out (maybe a teen relative on summer vacation)? I know it means bringing someone from the “outside” into your home, but the situation might warrant taking a calculated risk. You could implement some of the same policies essential businesses are using – take their temp before starting work, have them wear a mask, don’t allow them to work if they have symptoms or have been exposed.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, most people I know with kids under 5 and two working parents have some form of child care – a grandparent who’s come to stay, a part-time sitter, a co-op nanny, essential worker daycare, etc. It’s not ideal in most circumstances, but no child care at all is just not tenable with the littlest ones.

        1. Werd Nerd*

          I am surprised that “most people” you know have child care in those forms. I would not want a nanny, babysitter or whoever else coming into to my home not knowing who they have been in contact with throughout the week. I find this is the case with most people I know. In addition, we have no family nearby and if we did, I would not want my elderly parents to come to my house to care for my child in this environment. I am not essential and do not have essential worker daycare. I think your comment is a bit out of touch and not the reality honestly.

          1. Amy*

            I don’t think it’s out of touch.

            We have a lot of parents of young kids at my work (at least 15 of my immediate colleagues), I have young kids and know many families of my children’s friends and our neighbors. Almost everyone has at this point cobbled together some type of childcare. The specific type (nanny, nanny share, part-time babysitter, co-op, daycare, family member) runs the gamut but working full-time with little ones at home full-time wasn’t sustainable for many after 12 weeks or so. Parents felt their jobs were on the line.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              Yes to this – for the first couple of months I could tell myself that it was even good for my kids to have all that unstructured free play time since kids are often overscheduled in normal life. If they’re home several days a week for the entire next school year, though, which seems likely, the calculus shifts a lot. What felt tenable when it all felt temporary doesn’t feel workable for the long term, so we have to re-assess the balance of risks.

          2. NOK*

            Yep, co-sign to Amy here. Almost all my colleagues with young children have found childcare solutions. It’s definitely each family’s risk calculation to make, but there are no good solutions for parents with young kids right now.

          3. Guacamole Bob*

            It’s certainly possible that my middle/upper middle class social circle in a major east coast city isn’t representative – I think dual-career families with pretty intense jobs may be over-represented. It helps that our region has been in a plateau for a while in terms of case numbers, and isn’t spiking like a lot of other places.

            But I know a lot of families with young kids, and the ones with toddlers have nearly all made some sort of adjustment so that they are not working two full-time jobs with no child care. Some have one parent who’s been laid off or taken a leave of absence, or who was only working part-time to begin with, or who works unusual shift hours or a fully flexible freelance schedule or something. Several agonized about the risk to the grandparents but the reality of both trying to work with a toddler was untenable – I know a few people who relocated to live with their parents temporarily for child care reasons, usually quarantining for a couple of weeks first to reduce risk. I know others who already had a grandparent living with them.

            No one I know was jumping for joy at the idea of bringing child care workers into their homes and increasing the risk. But if it’s a choice between quitting your job (or being fired) and hiring child care, then child care wins some of the time. It’s the same as people who have to expose themselves to more risk by going in to work in order to keep their job – not anyone’s top choice, but full quarantine isn’t an option available to everyone right now.

            People with elementary age kids seem to be muddling through without help (us included, though that may change in the fall depending on what happens with school), and I know at least one family with an infant that is making it work since he’s a pretty chill baby. But 1-3 year olds are a different story.

          4. SuzyMacAnolly*

            Although I agree with your sentiments, re: not wanting the additional person in the home, I tend to agree with Bob. People are starting to bring someone in to do child-care if nothing else is available. A certain degree of burnout is happening and parents are becoming overwhelmed. My boss now has a nanny and I brought up the same issues that you mentioned. He has been working from home for most of the last 3 months, but now he is coming in 3-4 days a week. I am keeping my distance!

          5. Gymmie*

            Me either!

            Also, would not want my elderly parents around us unless we were completely quarantined, which we can’t be given my husband has to go into work.

            I honestly have not a single friend who has this arrangement.

          6. alienor*

            A project manager or accountant may have a longer grace period than someone who works customer-facing in retail or healthcare, but eventually it still comes down to “show up, either in person or virtually, and do your work or get fired.” I think it’s more out of touch to assume that no one has to make the choice to take a calculated risk on childcare when in reality, a lot of people do.

          7. hufflepuff hobbit*

            Most people have NO CHOICE but to take the risk of either sending their children out of the home to be supervised or inviting someone in to supervise. Most jobs either have never or are no longer allowing for parents to watch their children all day, and most people cannot afford a stay-at-home spouse

            I do have a stay-at-home spouse, but I am well aware that I am insanely lucky and privileged.

          8. Mama Bear*

            I don’t know if I’d say “most people” but there’s a lot of talk on our listserv about nanny shares and hiring college kids whose usual summer job is gone. People are burned out and looking for options and also employers are antsy to get people back in their offices. More daycares are open around me, with limited enrollment. I think that OP can certainly consider (very carefully) a sitter of some type but I think option 1 should be to better align her and her spouse’s workdays so it’s not all on her.

          9. PrgrmMngr*

            I don’t see a lot of dual-income families in my circles with childcare yet unless they have had jobs where they truly can’t work from home. Daycare centers here are just starting to reopen – ours expects to reopen in the beginning of August. People have been making do.

          10. Darsynia*

            A family friend watches her daughter’s kid every day while they work, and it’s been really tough for her lately, because it’s not her that goes out, but the parents! Her son-in-law apparently went out to a bar a few weeks ago and she didn’t find out about it for a week. She feels really stuck because they rely on her help but your point is a valid one: if you’re providing/are provided family care for a person forced to work without an official day care, you need to act responsibly about it, both as the parents getting the help and as the family member providing it.

        2. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

          Family’s nanny tested positive for covid….it’s true that people do this, but it’s a huge risk.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            So is continuing to go to work at all if you’re an essential worker. People are doing what they have to in order to keep their jobs.

            1. Amy*

              Yeah, many of my friends are healthcare workers in the NYC area. One manages a grocery store. I was able to stay home for 3 months during the worst of it and am now still very limited to outsiders except our babysitter.

              On balance, it could be far worse.

          2. hufflepuff hobbit*

            It’s a huge risk that essential workers, single parents, and nearly all working class people HAVE TO TAKE. food and rent cost money. no work=no money

    9. Mighty Mouse*

      The husband may work those hours to avoid burnout. I had a job in healthcare that required hours outside of “normal” business hours as well as on call overnight and weekends. It was miserable. I quit because I couldn’t take it anymore which helped no one. If he sees enough patients to pay the bills during those hours he doesn’t “have to” offer convenient hours for everyone.

      1. Almost Academic*

        Sure, this may be the case. It doesn’t mean that the solution is for the wife to take on the burnout (which it sounds like she has). His preference for a specific hours arrangement doesn’t automatically have to overrule her needs.

        If they both have incompatible needs, then it should be talked out and another solution arrived at.

        1. boop the first*

          Right? I’d rather cheer for those who can take control of their own life, because it sets a beautiful example to aim for and it’s lovely! However, many of us in other industries have miserable shifts, too, and we usually have the choice not to try to cram child-rearing into the routine. Things change when it’s not just (general) you.

      2. Caroline Bowman*

        Sure, true, but then he needs to remember that he has a son and the same responsibility towards childcare as the child’s mother. This means that sometimes things will be hard and yes, occasionally miserable for him. It is a very not-ideal situation *for both of them*.

      3. merp*

        Along with everyone else saying that that doesn’t mean the wife needs to burnout instead, I wanted to also say it doesn’t seem like people are suggesting he work *extra* hours, just that he work *different* hours. He can shift his hours to give her uninterrupted time to work, which is something it sounds he like he has been enjoying since all of this started!

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          This. Everything shifted for LW so Hubs could keep his preferred schedule, but we can’t all always have exactly what we prefer these days, especially not 100% at someone else’s expense. If Hubs can bend his schedule a bit and share the inconvenience being placed on the family, he ideally should.

          (…and all of that is ignoring the idea that this would be “helping.” Obviously I don’t know this family’s division of labor and finances, but this is Hubs’ household and child too, and he has equal responsibility for them.)

          1. Amaranth*

            One of the most positive things I can say about my soon-to-be ex is that any time his buddies joked about him ‘babysitting’ he never failed to push back “I’m taking care of my kid…you don’t babysit your own kids.”

        1. Kim*

          Wow.
          How about *he* quit his job? Why is the solution always for the woman to quit her career? Lord only knows not everyone is cut out for full time parenting. And maybe she has her owm career goals and dreams?
          Also: her money may be needed to pay those bills.

          1. Wednesday of this week*

            Also, she may not want to exit the work force indefinitely? And become completely reliant on someone else’s income and benefits?

            1. GammaGirl1908*

              It’s also very possible that she carries the benefits, if he’s self-employed.

          1. Kewlm0m*

            My comment was made before the updated info from the OP in response to: “If he sees enough patients to pay the bills during those hours he doesn’t “have to” offer convenient hours for everyone.”

            1. Geralt of HRivia*

              But the response to that shouldn’t be for her to give up her own career path. That’s a sacrifice I would never make, personally.

        2. Coffee Bean*

          Women should not always have to take the big here. Hubby needs to be more flexible. It’s his child, too.

      4. Mad Harry Crewe*

        No one is saying he needs to take on more hours of work – just different hours. If he added evening hours a few days a week and maybe a half-day on the weekend, that would give his wife the opportunity to do ANY of her job. Right now, she says she’s doing zero, and that is not sustainable long-term. Especially since it sounds like her work is running out of flexibility to offer.

        His job and honestly his mental health are not more important than hers – they’re equally important. This is supposed to be a partnership. Unless they are willing and able for her to leave her job and do childcare full time (and isn’t that a song we’ve heard before, with long-term impacts on her career and earning potential), he needs to suck it up if he has any flexibility in his hours at all.

        OP, I will also throw it out there – can either of you (or both of you) take advantage of the COVID family care leave? There was a letter from earlier this week from someone who couldn’t work and childcare, and that was Allison’s suggestion. Worth looking into.

      5. AJ*

        But he can still work the same number of hours, just shift them around to allow for the wife to have some down time. No need for one person to take on all of the burnout.

    10. Almost Academic*

      One thing to note is that depending on the organization he works for, none of these suggestions may be viable – for instance, VAs in my area are notorious for demanding all patient scheduling be done within 8 am -5 pm working hours and are completely inflexible on this.

      That being said, as a therapist trainee, I largely agree with this. It’s unfair to only expect one parent to carry the load, and honestly given the psychiatrists I’ve interacted with, most of the appointments are not life and death scheduling wise. In addition, I’m wondering if husband has charting duties still? If so, he might be able to organize his day so that appointments are back to back and there’s an hour or two of doing all charting at the end, where he could take responsibility for the toddler? Or at least grab the toddler for 10 minutes each hour so that some of the shorter office tasks could be done in chunks during the day?

      1. Some internet rando*

        Agree. I work in mental health for the VA and we typically work bankers hours and dont have any control over our scheduling.

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Oh, wonderful. The VA is putting up more barriers to those who are in need of care. :(

    11. Delta Delta*

      I sort of wonder about this. I live in an area where psychiatry is very understaffed (like, we might have 3 actual psychiatrists within a several hundred mile radius). It takes people 6+ months in some cases to get in to see the psychiatrist for med checks. If this family is in a similar area, it’s very possible that husband has hundreds of patients and sees them in short increments, one after another.

      I’m not suggesting husband not flex his schedule. It just occurs to me that there might be more to it with him than this seeming inflexibility.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I agree. A lot of these comments seem to be assuming the flexiblity of a private practice, which may not be how the husband is working. There are a lot of specialist services that use psychiatrist, and many of them limit their hours for a variety of reasons.

        That said, I don’t know of many that would allow teleworking and NOT allow flexible hours.

        And also, I don’t know of any psychologist or psychiatrist who literally spends all their workday with patients – there’s a certain amount of paperwork (and often meetings, if they’re in a team setting) that should be more flexible than the actual patient appointments.

        I agree with Alison, that it’s worth him exploring how he can help with this if they haven’t looked into it already.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          I would rather frame it as “how he can pull his share of the weight” rather than “how he can help.” Fathers don’t “help” with their children and childcare. They raise their children, and contribute to childcare.

          This is similar to the idea that men “help out” with household chores – in both cases, the implication is that a woman owns the role, and men assist out of goodwill, not equity.

        2. hufflepuff hobbit*

          I’m a health care provider. Meetings are not usually at ALL flexible and in healthcare settings (sigh). Paperwork is done off the clock. When you are a talking-type healthcare provider, under the US system, you can only charge for “face to face” time, which is time spent directly with the patient.

          If she says he works 9-5, in most US healthcare settings, that would mean he sees patients back to back from 9-5 and potentially works right through his lunch break (that’s how I make up for late/overlong patients from my morning clinic) as well.

          That said, as someone said above, although it’s possible he is limited to those hours, if he’s allowed to work entirely remote, it’s quite possible that he could offer night clinic instead of some of his daytime clinic.

          Many healthcare employers are ECSTATIC to offer night clinics. And, if they are remote clinics, there is minimal logistics/overhead.

          1. Darsynia*

            Paperwork being done off the clock sounds a bit iffy, but I am not experienced enough to know if that’s a favor the employees are doing to avoid overtime or if it’s a normal part of the industry (like teachers preparing lesson plans in the evening, for example).

        3. Observer*

          Even when not in private practice, it’s very, very likely that he has SOME flexibility. At this point the OP must have that discussion with her husband.

          And, as you said, paperwork (which is almost always a significant time sink) can be pretty much done whenever.

      2. Caroline Bowman*

        You might well be right, of course there could be more to it, but on the face of it, he could absolutely pick a few chunks of time each week when he’s ”on” childcare during the working day somehow, even if it was at some burden and inconvenience to himself.

    12. DoubleE*

      This is an issue that affects many people with chronic physical or mental health conditions, but it rarely gets talked about. Most health care providers work 9-5 hours, so people who need to see a provider on a recurrent basis often need to take time off work to do so. If their job isn’t flexible around this, it can put people in a very difficult position.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I think that’s very location-dependent. Where I live (major US city, relatively large population of providers—although of course there are never enough), it is completely the opposite. A therapist who limited their hours to 9-5 would have difficulty filling a caseload, or at least would have difficulty filling it with weekly, consistent clients. Here it may be challenging to get the coveted after-3 p.m. (when school gets out) slots, but it’s standard to have some. I know a few therapists and 1 psychiatrist who work 12-8, usually. I also know 2 who work Saturdays. And that’s just off the top of my head. (I used to work in mental health, which is why I know so many).

        Anyhow, there’s always the hope that the husband can try. If he works for a clinic or service that is only 9-5 in normal times, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be more flexible during COVID-19. He should at least ask!

    13. Stormy Weather*

      This very much. Where is his flexibility? Where is he between 7:00 and 9:00?

      Very tired of seeing the burden for childcare during WFH on the women.

      1. The Grey Lady*

        Me too. I’ve heard SO many stories of women who are trying to care for toddlers while having Zoom meetings, doing work on the computer, etc. Husband is always “too busy” or “too tired” to help out. Dude, it’s your kid too. Don’t you think your wife is tired and busy as well? There should be equal division of the parenting duties.

        1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

          My wife and I have both been WFH. My wife has done the vast bulk of the parenting during the day. When I do try to help take care of the kids during a work day, my wife will usually order me to go back to work. If it was because the kids were tantruming or fighting, she will then threaten them that if they don’t stop it, daddy will get fired. I am not aware that this empty threat (I am in no danger of getting fired) has ever ended a single tantrum or fight.

          1. Geralt of HRivia*

            I want to assure you that this comment is meant with love and concern. I tried very hard to word this as kindly as possible.

            I think then, that the solution here would be to talk to your wife and find out why she can’t seem to trust you to parent your children without her input. Maybe you guys need to talk out a new strategy and locate some common ground to avoid either of you feeling resentful or burning out.

            1. JJ Bittenbinder*

              Agree. As frustrating as it is when one parent isn’t doing their share of the work, it’s equally so when one is gatekeeping and not allowing the other parent to do their share. I have a relative who freaked out when he had to go on a business trip when his firstborn was around 18 months old. He packed separate bags for each day the child would be in daycare, made breakfast/lunch/snacks/dinner for all days he would be gone (even those days when the child wouldn’t be in daycare, and very sriously considered leaving his job because the trip was not optional. All with ZERO indication that his husband wouldn’t be able to handle parenting or make good decisions about meals, etc. It was extremely stressful for both of them and caused a lot of fighting.

              Eventually, my relative got some professional help for anxiety and now travels ~6 times/year for work. His husband has yet to pack pork rinds and beer for their toddlers’ lunches or forget one of them on the soccer field. They are all much, much happier.

              1. Geralt of HRivia*

                I’m glad that they managed to get better communication! It’s hard when you’re clearing up a situation as delicate as child care. If a child has been used to childcare routines and suddenly they all changed for a huge scary reason, they may act out. When those sorts of things happen, I really think it’s a common instinct to push blame because of how deep the connections are.

                Really, kudos to them!

              2. Gumby*

                *Snorfle*- pork rinds and beer.

                I will admit that my parents did manage to leave 5 children stranded in 3 different locations one evening. Each thought the other was picking us up. It wasn’t because they were bad parents – just that the normal schedule had been disrupted. It happens and generally everyone survives. I mean, I will never let them forget it either, but them’s the breaks in my family.

                1. JJ Bittenbinder*

                  I mean, I will never let them forget it either, but them’s the breaks in my family.

                  Well, of course. You don’t just walk away from an opportunity to (I assume, gently and humorously) rib a parent about the time they forgot you! (To be clear, my kid gently and humorously ribs me about things and I tell her I’ll throw another dollar in te therapy fund and we all know we’re kidding).

                  The worst that happened in our family is pretty much the opposite, where the normal schedule had been disrupted but one of us drove to pick up our kid where she would normally be at that time. Many/most people are just creatures of habit.

          2. Koala dreams*

            Maybe it would go better if you made a schedule together for who takes care of the children when? It’s much easier to agree on something beforehand, and not decide when both of you are stressed (especially if the children are stressed too).

          3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

            If the dynamic of your family involves one parent ordering another around, threatening the kids, etc. then I strongly encourage you and your wife to talk about that as a problem and perhaps look into marriage counseling. That’s not okay.

        2. Darsynia*

          My best friend’s husband is ostensibly working on his PhD but he’s been doing that for about 7 years with hardly any progress. He sleeps till noon and she’s forced to get the kids ready and drive them in if they’re too slow to make it to the bus. Recently we were talking about the options for school this fall and she said she’d rather avoid sending them on the bus, but that would cut into her work hours. I was able to say that as a stay at home mom, I don’t relish the idea of driving them in every morning but I don’t have anything better to do, so I’ll suck it up. She said, ‘oh, I guess we’re in that situation, too.’

          It sometimes is as simple as a) not realizing that things could change or b) knowing that to push for change would cause so much uproar that coping with things as they are is preferable. I hope that it’s not option B for OP, but that’s definitely the case for my friend. :\

    14. Newly Hired*

      It depends on where he works. I’m the wife of a clinical psychologist who works for the VA. He has what they call a tour of duty and it is set hours. He does not see patients outside of his tour of duty. If he’s private practice, though, then I totally agree with you.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Even then – there are many people who do not have a spouse to pick up the childcare. Is no-one else at his work having to do childcare during working hours? If he absolutely can’t flex hours, what leave does he have, what unpaid leave could he (or LW) take, can he shift to slightly shorter hours until daycares open again?

        Is he at least looking after toddler in his lunch break?

    15. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I will slbe a bit of a devil’s advocate and say Maybe there is a reason the husband can’t switch his schedule. Like maybe the office is only 9-5 all the time and they aren’t changing that. For example, I work in a counseling center for a university where there are several psychologist on staff. We kept our normal hours and went to telehealh. Also, depending on his state and his licensing, he might of had to do some online trainings to be certified for telehealth if he wasn’t already. Our counselors had to do that. Luckily we were on break so there weren’t any clients. But if he had to do some online trainings before he could see his patients it might have put him behind.
      But I do agree that he should be taking over some child care. I mean he can’t be taking back to back clients. If he is it’s not a good practice. He should have at least some blocks of time between clients for things like notes, charts, etc. And any communications (emails, consent requests from other Drs, etc). He could some of that in the evening. And what about breaks. Surely he could take an long lunch a few days a week to take care of the kid. That with an hour or so a day would help A lot.

      1. Elenna*

        For sure it’s possible the husband has reasons why he can’t flex his hours. But it seems weird to me that LW didn’t say anything in the letter like “and my husband can’t take over because XYZ”, the letter just kinda assumes that LW has to watch the kid.
        Now maybe LW was trying to keep their letter short, and that’s what they decided to cut out. But idk…

    16. Peachkins*

      Yes! I would think that some of his patients would be delighted for him to have some evening hours.

    17. Artemesia*

      This. Once more we see that a man’s work is not to be interrupted or adjusted or disturbed in any way in this crisis and the wife and mother takes all the lumps. Since he schedules appointments, he is in a position to adjust his schedule. Surely there are some people who would welcome Saturday morning appointments or evening appointments so that he can manage lunch for the child and getting him to his nap and then a couple of hours of no appointments in late afternoon so she can have a block of 4 uninterrupted hours during the day to work.

      Even that doesn’t make it possible for her to get her work all done but would help a lot. If he is unwilling to bestir himself on her behalf then she needs to probably take a partial leave or full leave or else figure out how to work evenings and weekends to make up the work. I am not sure how indefinite inability to do the job can be sustained. And yeah it sucks.

      It is ridiculous that someone with a practice he can schedule is not stepping up to free up some time in the day. Most people in therapy practices have evening and weekend hours for some of their patients.

      1. ESH*

        Your post assumes a lot of ill intent on the husband’s part. I, too, think he can probably be doing more during the work day, but several people have offered reasons why that might not be true (and time stamps show that many of those comments preceded yours by 30+ minutes, so it’s not like you couldn’t see them).

        1. The Grey Lady*

          It’s definitely true that Husband may not be able to adjust his schedule for whatever reason. That said, that doesn’t mean he’s completely off the hook. Couples all around the world are having to get creative and come up with compromises for this very thing. They need to figure out a way that they can both share some of the parenting responsibility.

        2. Starbuck*

          Really wish people would stop being so eager to make excuses for men not pulling their weight at home. He likely isn’t reading this thread, he doesn’t need anyone’s defense. The facts sadly bear out the truth that men as a whole are not doing their fair share of parenting and housework; and what they do end up doing tends to be more of the ‘fun’ stuff (playtime) and less of the ‘messy’ stuff (feeding, bathing). Anecdotes of great dads aside, this is the overall trend.

          And I hardly see where Artemesia was implying ill intent – the worst I can see is “unwilling to bestir himself” which, yeah, if the status quo is working well for him that wouldn’t surprise me.

          1. ESH*

            And yet! It turns out that I was not wrong after all.

            It certainly would have helped if LW had included the (extremely relevant) detail that her husband cannot alter his schedule at all, but swinging the pendulum all the way to “the husband is clearly not pulling his weight and is probably one of those guys who refers to spending time with his kids as ‘babysitting’ and only shows up for water gun fights and to eat the food his wife cooked” isn’t helpful, either. (Not getting that all from Artemesia’s comment; it’s sprinkled throughout the comments). It stirs up the great gender wars and detracts from making useful suggestions.

            And, yes, the bestirs himself… comment was one which struck me as assuming ill intent. Also:

            Once more we see that a man’s work is not to be interrupted or adjusted or disturbed in any way in this crisis and the wife and mother takes all the lumps..

        3. Cynical B*****

          I don’t think it’s ill intent. I think on his part it’s internalized prescriptive gender roles that puts the burden of childcare on the mother. I would recommend a serious chat. Sure, there could be reasons he is locked into these hours, but then he could take it up with his employer and ask them for flexibilty. Workplaces need to stop expecting pre-Covid structure if they want productive and emotionally functional employees.

    18. Batty Twerp*

      This is a family problem, not a mom problem.
      100% this.

      The way this reads is, based on the suggestion of your well-meaning if misguided colleague:
      Everyone wakes up at 7 am. Between you and your husband, you have two hours to get yourselves up and dressed, the toddler up and dressed and have breakfast.
      Husband starts work at 9 am and you start Mommy Daycare.
      Husband finishes work at 5 pm and you finish Mommy Daycare.
      You have an hour together as a family, hopefully you have an evening meal. Toddler goes to bed.
      You work from 6 pm to 11 pm at your paid work.
      You go to bed to get 8 hours of sleep.
      This is Monday to Friday
      On Saturday & Sunday, you need to fit in working the equivalent of 9 am to 4:30 pm (no lunch break) to make up a minimum 40-hour working week.

      Now, it’s possible Husband regularly steps up and does the cooking and other chores, it’s not clear because your question concerns your little one and not the rest of the labour split. And I’ve made some sweeping assumptions, but out of 168 hours in a week, you have 32 hours to do all household chores, cooking and eating meals, showering and enjoying family time. Someone tell me I have the maths wrong, because that’s an unsustainable plan – no wonder you would be miserable!

      1. Gamer Girl*

        That was my life for 2.5 years pre-COVID, except I was working even more overnight. The plan was for things to change April 2020…

        Ha.

        1. Batty Twerp*

          Has your life changed now (for better or worse) since April 2020? Please at least confirm you’re now getting 8 hours sleep?

    19. Caroline Bowman*

      Yes, your experience is clearly a lot more pertinent, but I was going to say that how come husband gets to have perfect, uninterrupted work 99% of the time, while she needs to try and juggle?

      Yeah, no. This is an ”our” issue. He can see patients from 6-8 a few nights each week, or even do a couple of Saturday sessions. I don’t suggest he should mess his patients around obviously, but it’s online appointments, so… surely flexibility is one of the benefits?

      The OP needs to explain that very carefully to her husband, that *their son* requires childcare from when he wakes until he goes to bed and *they both* need to work out how to accomodate that in a way that they both get uninterrupted work time on a regular, fair basis.

    20. not neurotypical*

      All of this assumes that he is a psychiatrist in private practice, setting his own hours. But he might work for a clinic that sticks to 9-5 hours in usual times and has retained that appointment schedule into the realm of telework

      1. I edit everything*

        Even if he’s restricted to certain hours, he can still speak with his manager/scheduler and see if accommodations can be made to give him a block of time during the day when he’s not actively seeing patients, or if paperwork/reports can be done after hours.

        It might not be possible, but it’s not too much to ask for him to make an attempt at a more equitable split of daytime kid duty.

        1. hufflepuff hobbit*

          paperwork and reports are nearly always done after hours in healthcare in any case. Not really a solution unless he’s literally the luckiest psychologist in the US

    21. Lauren*

      A lot of people replying don’t seem to know the difference between a psychiatrist and a therapist / counselor. My psychiatrist is part of a medical group and she, a doctor, sees patients during regular doctor’s office hours. It would be unusual for a doctor to see patients on nights and weekends (outside of a hospital or urgent care setting).

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, but surely that is in normal circumstances, which these are not. After all, normally you wouldn’t expect someone like OP to be working evenings and weekends either.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        It us also unusual for OP not to be getting any work done. Nothing is as usual and these are unprecented times.

      3. hufflepuff hobbit*

        actually, many hospitals now offer night clinics, and we are often pressured to do them

      4. CircleBack*

        Even my GP has one day a week with early appointments (7am-3pm) and one day with evening appointments (12pm-8pm). I’m surprised to hear it called unusual – I think it’s becoming more and more common, and especially during this time should be something for his office to consider.

    22. Regina Phalange*

      Yup. My therapist (not a psychiatrist, but still) has three kids, and his hours became limited once Covid hit because guess what? He splits child care responsibilities with his wife. We had to switch our appointment time as a result, which was totally fine because it’s a pandemic and I get it. OP’s husband should do the same.

    23. Mama Bear*

      I think a LOT of people would appreciate evening meetings. If the baby goes to bed around 6 and he takes time for dinner and does a couple of 7 or 8 PM sessions, it might be a win-win for both his patients and his household.

    24. Gymmie*

      Meh. My therapist works 9-5 because that’s when his wife works and he wants to keep common hours. He shuts off at 5 for his own sanity. He’s the best therapist ever honestly.

      Now, obviously this situation is different, but I don’t find it weird at all for therapists to keep “regular” hours.

    25. Springella*

      I think the husband is flaky, too. He retains all his income and she might lose her job and sanity.

    26. JSPA*

      I have friends and neighbors who are psychiatrists, psychologists, or do supportive counseling of various sorts. I can’t think of any who necessarily work an invariant 9-5.

      Now, if OP is in a very high-rent area and has to work those hours for them to be housed and fed, or if spouse works for a medical system that requires their employees to work those hours, there might be less flexibility. And if he’s dealing with really heavy issues, I can see needing to decompress well before bedtime. And if his regular clients are doing badly because of the pandemic, there can be real pressure to overschedule (and the way to stop the creep is to have hard limits on hours).

      But what I’m seeing by default is that spouse is defining his regular hours as inviolable, when quite likely, they’re really not.

      My suggestion would be that he see if he has early bird clients who’d happily take a 7 or 8 a.m. shift. He works 7 to 11 and 3 to 6.

      OP has a late brunch or early lunch, then works 11 to 3, without interruption while spouse feeds the kid and himself, cleans and shower them both as needed, changes diapers, plays with the kid, counts fingers and toes, counts fingers and toes again, plays some quiet music, thinks of Freud’s Fort/Da while the kid tosses stuff on the ground and he picks it back up.

      They both put the kid to bed at 6, and have dinner and decompress. They flip or trade off for whose turn it is to do nighttime diaper changes and feedings, as needed.

      op can get in an hour catching up on email before bed, either way.

      That divides up the core hours of the day relatively equitably.

    27. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “a mental health specialist who keeps 9-5 hours strikes me as incredibly inflexible”

      I was about to say this.

    28. Rutabaga*

      Just wanted to hop on and note that the husband is a psychiatrist ( a medical doctor), not a psychologist. He may be working with 15-20 minute patient slots that were scheduled 3-6 months prior. If he works for a clinic, he may have set hours per his contract. If he doesn’t meet his set hours or patient encounters, he may endanger his job. If he’s private practice and sets his own hours, then he could likely change his hours.

      1. JSPA*

        If he’s working for someone else, he may well qualify for parental leave. Not that he should do so, if he can avoid it, as it would leave patients in the lurch. But it’s a bargaining chip, as far as having the scheduler attempt to reschedule mid-day appointments (say) for early or late hours.

        Also, many people who were locked into certain timeslots by the demands of their jobs may now have more flexibility as well; additionally, the time they presumably set aside for travel to and from his office is also presumably now flexible. Which is to say, in exceptional circumstances, it’s likely that there actually is more “give,” if he has a willingness to push a bit harder.

    29. Middle Aged Lady*

      OP said he was a newish resident and didn’t currently have a lot of choice about his schedule, but that may improve. I agree it is hard to see a counselor during the workday. Even if I could figure out how to fit it in, I hated going back to work after a session.

  4. Ali G*

    I agree with Alison’s comment. If you haven’t discussed this, please do. Many mental health pros do evening and weekend appointments. Also, if this is not an option, then at the very least, he should be doing all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.
    Barring that, do you qualify for the EFMLA? You could go part time and still collect up to 1/3 your salary. This could give you some breathing room.
    Last, you could just overhaul your schedule. Maybe your new weekend is Sunday-Monday, and you work 8-12 and 7-9 Tuesday, etc.
    I hope you can make it work and please try to not fee too guilty! You are not the only one in this boat.

    1. Blaise*

      Wow, literally exactly this. You thought of everything! There are a lot of options that could work here!

      (I’m realizing that for some reason it kind of sounds like I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not!!)

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I like these suggestions!

      I was thinking that some combination of both of them working a couple evenings would be the easiest resolution. Maybe he shifts his hours and does evening appointments on Mondays and Wednesdays and she shifts her hours to work 12-8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    3. JJ Bittenbinder*

      I can’t believe that it didn’t occur to me over the past 4 months to shift to a Sun-Thurs or something similar. Would have been very helpful when trying to get mt kids’ schooling sorted. ::facepalm::

    4. Mockingjay*

      Why can’t the husband take EFMLA?

      Seriously. Why is the onus on the LW to make the career sacrifice?

      1. goducks*

        Exactly. EFMLA might be a good solution, but it should be considered a possible solution for either spouse, not just the OP.

      2. Natalie*

        If he’s in private practice I don’t think he would qualify. But otherwise, yes, they should both be pursuing that.

      3. JSPA*

        Duty to patients is a pretty intense thing. And unlike a purely physical malady, it’s not as simple as, “Dr X is not available, so Dr. Y will be reviewing your bloodwork.” I mean, continuity of care can be important for bloodwork, too, but for a psychiatrist, it’s not like someone can easily substitute in.

        1. Coffee Bean*

          But these are extraordinary times. Continuity cannot be expected in all circumstances, especially with when things can happen (appointments; meetings).

        2. Lady Meyneth*

          Yes, and it’s not about who makes more money either. OP could be a rocket scientist making 7 figures, and I’d still think any FMLA should be taken by her if at all possible.

          Psychiatrists especially deal with patients with some horrible stuff, all the way up to suicide urges, so his suddenly taking leave could literally mean someone dies. Sure, it he was a single parent or one of them got sick, there’d be no way around it, but it should be a last-last-last resource.

        3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          If he needed surgery, he would find a way to take medical leave. I’m sure he occasionally goes on vacation. There are time-honored ways to provide temporary coverage for psychiatric patients, and he should be looking into his options just as his wife is looking into hers.

          1. JSPA*

            I’m not arguing against him pushing hard for more flexibility, and making it happen one way or another! In fact, I commented in detail to that effect, above. Just pointing out that the downside of “my psychiatrist couldn’t see me” can be more instantaneously harmful than, well, a great many other cancellations.

  5. EPLawyer*

    You are thinking that you have to work during the day like normal AND doing nights and weekends to get it all done. What you need to do is shift your schedule, and maybe your husband can too (I bet he has patients who would love a late afternoon early evening appointment instead of during the day). So instead of unwinding in the evenings with hubby, you have a leisurely breakfast together. You do things in the morning as a family, then work afternoons and evenings. Afternoons you are still wrangling a toddler, but you get to work once he is in bed uninterrupted — after NOT trying to work since 9 a.m.

    This is the key. stop trying to work a 9-5 schedule and feeling stressed about it. Work a 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. schedule.

    1. StressedButOkay*

      Oh, I love this. We’re so used to having the evenings and weekends as downtime because that’s traditionally the only time we had. But we’re in a new world and a lot of businesses are allowing us to shape our work schedule (not all but many).

      1. AnotherSarah*

        Yes! I think that it’s a bit of a mental shift to go from “we eat dinner together” to “we eat breakfast together,” but it can be really nice. And perhaps necessary.

      2. Mama Bear*

        My spouse did this. When everyone pivoted to FT telework, he realized he was often up way earlier than his usual tour of duty and getting things done before the rest of us were awake. He changed his hours to match. This 1. got him done for the day earlier and 2. aligned him more with people who were in other time zones and 3. allowed him uninterrupted time before the rest of the team logged in and started pinging him. Perhaps OP’s company could agree to core hours with the expectation that everyone will be online then for meetings and such and allow other flex as needed. I recall the days of working with a toddler. FB reminds me that I used to edit documents at midnight while the kid slept on the couch next to me. It wasn’t the best solution, but it was a necessity for that project. I couldn’t get the work done with an awake toddler.

        1. NGL*

          This is what I do. I’m still waking up at 6 AM, that’s just how I’m wired. So my work day looks like:
          6:30-8 AM: Work
          8-9:30: Time with my toddler (Spouse works on freelance projects)
          9:30-12: Work
          12-1: Lunch/put toddler down for nap
          1-3: Spouse and I both work
          When I can, I’m wrapping up my day by 3-4 PM, both to give my spouse a break/a chance to work, and to make sure I get that quality family time in. Kiddo goes to sleep around 8, and if necessary I’ll log on for an hour or two to wrap things up, otherwise I’m back on first thing in the morning. Took my boss awhile to get used to it, but she’s seen the proof in my productivity so it’s worked out.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, I agree that this is part of the solution, but I also think a long talk with her husband needs to happen on how he can help her with this and shift his own work.

    3. Annony*

      I think this is key. Right now the idea of working weekends and nights is completely overwhelming because it means working all the time. So take a day off during the week where you are 100% unavailable and can focus on yourself and your family and put in a full, undistracted day of work on Saturday. If you are working nights, take the morning or afternoon off completely. That may be the best way to meet your needs and your employer’s needs. You don’t need to make sure you are putting in 40+ hours per week like before, but try to give them more uninterrupted time than you have been to show you are actually trying to work with them.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        and if her husband, the father of the child, the one with the power over his appointment calendar did that, they’d be winning, right?

        1. ESH*

          the one with the power over his appointment calendar did that

          Many others have pointed out that this might not be true.

        2. Annony*

          That’s another way to get more uninterrupted work time. It seemed thoroughly covered further up.

    4. Mary Dempster*

      This is the answer. I also am at home full time, with a husband who’s job takes him away from home, but with a toddler and an infant. If I’m working nights/weekends, it’s not because I worked for 8 hours a day and still have things to get done, it’s that I didn’t work from 2-4 while we went to the park, or that I logged out early on a Friday to go grocery shopping between naps.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      I think if the company is okay with off-hours work (nights/weekends), there is a solution in here somewhere. If the husband could wrap up the day earlier and take over childcare, OP could get a full 8 hrs in on weeknight (3-11 pm), or perhaps something like 4-10 + 1 weekend day. If she’s only focusing on childcare during the day, that’s her downtime. I have two grown/older kids, so I do remember that you have all this other stuff to do that’s difficult with a small child at home, but I think it can be managed — minimal cleaning/cleaning outsourced, grocery pickup/delivery, etc. If that doesn’t give you enough downtime, then I’d talk about some part-time options. Just cutting back to 32 hours would be a godsend and a lot of us have 8 hrs of nonproductive tasks we could cut or hand off if we had to.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        (To be clear, I’m not saying a day home with a toddler is downtime, but if you can throw in laundry during nap time instead of checking email, or take them for a walk and not have to worry about being away from your computer, it frees up mental energy.)

    6. Colette*

      I agree. Instead of trying to work all day, failing, and then working at night, take the day to spend with your child and then work at night. That still might not be a full schedule, but I think you’d feel less guilty. (And if it’s not a full schedule, maybe you work a couple of hours in the afternoon while your husband looks after the baby or during naptime, and then deliberately not work until 6.

    7. DataGirl*

      I agree about shifting your schedule. While companies need to be flexible with people who are now dealing with caring for small children whose childcare has become unavailable, that means allowing them to shift their work hours or take a little longer to get back to people. That doesn’t mean you don’t work, or work very few hours, while still getting paid for full time. As much as I appreciate your need for time to relax, if you are getting paid for full time work you do have an obligation to work full time.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I completely understand your point of view. I just wish more people/employers would allow “you do have an obligation to work as close to full time as possible” instead of “you do have an obligation to work full time.”

        Sure there are people slacking off and taking advantage, but I truly think it’s the 80/20 principle (80% of the issues are caused by 20% of the people, meaning that the slackers do not make up a majority here). Most of us are doing the best we can.

    8. Georgina Fredrika*

      if it’s possible to do so, I think this makes a lot of sense. It might not be ideal for forever, but it’s a much better way to get through the next few months.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Yes; that was my immediate thought too. Don’t spend 40 hours/week trying to work and take care of your kid and then work extra hours to make the inefficiency of the distraction of a toodler.

      Have some hours during the day where you only take care of your kid and make up those hours on nights and weekends by working when you can focus on work. It gives you less “free” time, but to me that it sounds less stressful and it is just a fact you added taking care of your kid 9 hours a day on top of your your normal workload. You will have less free time.

      It would also be great if you husband can alter his hours and care for your toddler for a couple/few hours a day while you work so you’re getting a few more focused hours during the day.

    10. BethDH*

      This is especially important if you are salaries and not tied to putting in 8 hour days. We have a toddler and an infant and I was trying to be “available” to my colleagues and basically work the same hours they did. And I kept getting further behind so I wasn’t really available (my husband is doing plenty of childcare, but those ages make it really difficult since there’s nursing and the toddler is not big on sleep — no naps and doesn’t go to sleep very early. I’m still figuring it out but now I often work just 1-2 hours in the evening and get more done than I do all day. I try to answer emails during the day in bursts and also be available for phone calls, plus of course scheduled meetings, but I aim for something like 4 hours during the day. Then I do projects and things that require sustained focus in the evening. I was too exhausted to do that when I was trying to work constantly during the day too, and wasn’t very productive when I did manage it. I’m actually LESS burned out working in the evening than I was when I was trying to keep the evenings free. And even though I’m “working” fewer hours I’m getting a lot more done.

    11. Blisskrieg*

      I strongly agree with this. As a manager, I would in no way shape or form expect someone with a toddler and no day care options to be able to do the full amount of work, nor the same hours as typical. Nor would I want them working all nights or weekends to get in their full 40 hours. However, I *would* expect them to make some adjustments in terms of alternate hours and to meet the company part way. I have employees with young children right now. The one starts work a few hours early to get some quiet, uninterrupted time. The other I notice has some preference for putting in time in the evenings. Again, I don’t expect them to be 100%, and I reassure them as such, but the reality is they do need to make some tradeoffs as well.

      1. Steve*

        This. Being understanding only lasts for so long. Companies are going to expect employees to pull their weight, eventually.

        Can you stay with family who can help with childcare?

    12. Malarkey01*

      I agree with this, and am doing something similar. Under perfect circumstances we’d all work 40 hours, but I’ve found that 3 hours of heads down work from 7-10 at night is almost as productive as standard hours because there are no phone/email/IM interruptions. The downside is not being as available for collaboration and meetings, BUT it’s a fair trade off during this time if I can still do one or two meetings.

      Everyone is having an insane time juggling, but I do think you should find time to block out for work- even if it’s a few dedicated hours in exchange for more relaxed time without work during the day (and I have a toddler so not implying that full time childcare is relaxing at all).

    13. LSP*

      I’m seeing a lot of people loving this solution, but as a parent of an 18 month old and a 6 year old who also works from home full-time, this could very easily lead to the kind of burnout OP is concerned about. Caring for a small human is often EXHAUSTING! Even if OP and her husband split the duties better, and she had only the morning shift, that is 4 hours at least of WORK. The to put in another 8 hours on top of that every. single. day. is just going to be too much for a lot of people. I am someone prone to high stress and stress-related illnesses, so I don’t have the luxury of pushing myself to the edge of my ability every day. I just can’t. What I’m getting from OP’s letter is that she can’t either. The world is a mess right now, and everyone is doing their best. People with young kids at home have been struggling to make it all work for months and it’s not sustainable.

      OP – Give yourself a break, and have a serious talk with your manager to manage their expectations of what you can and cannot be expected to do with a baby at home. And yes, talk to your husband and see if something can change there. But don’t accept you have to work 12 hour days every day.

    14. MCMonkeyBean*

      I definitely think some schedule shifting on both sides would help a lot. Her work schedule may not be super flexible if she needs to have availability for meetings and answering questions, but I would definitely recommend seeing if you could at a minimum shift 2-3 hours which would give you some kid-free time in the evening without just adding a bunch of overtime hours.

    15. Antisocialite*

      My thinking exactly. This is a two-fold issue: the husband needs to step up and co-parent, and the OP needs better time management and structure.

      The way this was written really rubs me the wrong way. You can’t expect an employer to pay you and you’re not working at all because you’re caring for a toddler. Yes, it’s completely unfair that your husband isn’t co-parenting with you, and that can be addressed together in lots of different ways. But if you’re saying there’s no way you’re going to “give up” any time outside your usual office hours (earlier mornings, evenings, weekends) AND you can’t get anything done during those office hours, then you should take the childcare-related leave if it’s available to you.

      The simple solution here is to re-structure your day. Compromise and give up a few of yours “wants” (evenings with your husband, weekends completely free) to meet your “needs”. Do a split schedule so you’re logging into work earlier in the morning while your husband watches the kid, then you log out so he can meet with his patients. Do the same thing in the evening, since your kid goes to bed at 6 pm (!!! this would leave a LOT of time for both work and relaxing). Work several hours on one weekend day. Lots of possibilities here.

  6. Bob*

    Don’t feel guilty for taking downtime. Uptime requires recharging and thats what downtime is.
    I agree with Alison that your husband also needs to step up a bit here.
    You may if the company is a good one ask them to redefine your role/hours worked/timing, if they are good people they will understand your family/work issues and be happy to work with you on an equitable solution without affecting your pay. Some companies would wring you dry, some are led by people with lots of heart. And many are inbetween. So figure out which your company is and work with it as bet you can.
    And take some time off if you need it, stress leave or a personal day or few should be available to you. Even a sick day if you are that burned out.

  7. CatCat*

    Maybe more knowledgeable readers can weigh-in, but I thought FFCRA leave should cover this kind of situation?

    1. Alli525*

      Yeah, but that’s at only 2/3 pay, which may not be feasible for OP’s family, and I think it also has a time limit – so if daycares don’t open within a few weeks or months, that leave runs out. Not to mention the unspoken potential consequences that working mothers face when they need to take time away from work to care for family members (kids, parents) – yes it’s illegal to retaliate against an employee for taking FMLA or FFCRA, but retaliation is so hard to prove in most cases.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Surely it’s the father who would take the leave in this case? It seems weird to assume that the parent with the flexible job would take the leave instead of the parent with the inflexible job, just because she’s the mother.

          1. I'm just here for the cats!*

            Is he self employed though. She didn’t mention that he was a private practice. He probably works at an office. Or he could even work at a doctors office I. The psych area. That’s what I was thinking since he’s working 9-5.

            1. Annony*

              We also don’t know their relative salaries. If he makes more, losing 1/3 of his salary may hurt their budget more. It could also be the other way around. I think deciding who should take leave if it comes to that will be a complicated discussion they need to have that isn’t as simple as “the man should do it” or “the woman should do it.”

        1. hbc*

          I can’t imagine it would be easy for a psychiatrist to just take time off. Leaving aside the potential impact on the patients, it’s not like he can just pop back in after having time off and expect them all to be there. And if it’s a private practice, he’s paying himself.

          I say this as the only person in my family whose set up doesn’t include a SAH dad, so I’m by no means retrograde on this issue.

          1. Artemesia*

            If you have time free from the toddler you can also get 8 hours work done in 6 concentrated hours. Most of us are not 100% efficient but in a normal world of work that doesn’t matter. But if you are in this difficult situation of only having X hours free a day then learning to work in more concentrated focused ways can make this more efficient.

            Sort of work all day and then blitz after the baby’s bed time is a recipe for burnout — but take a walk to the park in the morning, do household chores while the baby plays, have breakfast with husband and baby etc and then when husband takes over, burn rubber might work better. But husband has to be a partner in this and is ideally placed with a private practice to do just that. Both of you could do evening work and each take a shift during the day. He sees patients 9 to 12 and 1 to 3 and then evenings for a couple of appointments and Saturday morning for a few appointments. You then have the baby’s lunch and nap time in the 12 to 3 period and from 3 to 6 and in the evening and Sunday morning when he has kid duty or Saturday afternoon when he has kid duty after seeing his morning patients. It is tough but you do have the morning to enjoy the baby and routine tasks rather than trying to half work all the time.

            1. Nita*

              I switched up my schedule as soon as the school year ended. Instead of sort-of trying to work all day while trying to keep a toddler from destroying the house, I get the kids outside for two hours, and then my husband takes over and I work. He doesn’t take over very well – he has a lot of meetings during regular work hours – but somehow I’m getting more work done. If the kids run off a little energy in the morning, at least some of them are willing to sit and play board games while I work next to them. Not the toddler, though. We never know with the toddler. I’ve seen her lounging on the couch with a book once or twice (had to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming), but usually she’ll be found raiding her big sister’s hair clip collection, or washing toys in the toilet, or trying to find ways around the baby-proofed cabinet doors so she can play with soap and cooking oil.

          2. Koala dreams*

            It’s weird how it’s easy for fathers to take time off from taking care of their own small child, and much harder to take time off from work. /sarcasm

            The patients can’t possible be needing more supervision than a one year old child, so that’s not really relevant. It’s much easier for a patient to find a new psychiatrist than for a small child to find a new father.

            1. hbc*

              Yes, but my point is that if he cuts back his patients to 60% or 80%, he can’t just jump back up to 100% once child care is figured out, and that’s not because he’s a guy–it’s because he’s a psychiatrist. They can and should try to move stuff around, and they might be okay with him being at that lower level, but it sounds like her job is inherently more flexible. My production coordinator (male) is basically in the same position as this OP, because his wife is a teacher who can’t adjust on the fly.

              Just because there’s a societal imbalance in child care doesn’t mean that a particular case can be 50/50.

            2. Natalie*

              Yes, and I’m sure his patients finding a new psychiatrist and thus not paying him will have absolutely no impact on the child at all…

              1. Beth Jacobs*

                If OP continues to get no work done, shes getting fired. That’s obviously not the solution.

  8. Iceberry*

    A few of my colleagues are full time childcare providers during the day as their partners have front-line jobs and are not home. They are loosely available during the day, will make time for important meetings, but the reality is, they mostly focus on childcare during the day and have committed to putting in the time at night. It’s not ideal, but maybe block off the entire morning or afternoon where you are not available or online and then come back online in the evening. It might feel less burdensome than trying to manage a child and get intermittent work done for 12 hours vs just having those blocks of time. Hope you find a workable solution!

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yes – I have found it’s much less stressful to block out times that I’m just not even going to try to work. One year old is a hard age; big enough that they don’t just sleep all the time but too young to play independently in any significant way, let alone understand “Mommy needs to work right now.”

    2. Threeve*

      Agree. A change in schedule is fine, but I don’t think a drastic reduction in actual work time is reasonable when it’s a matter of family time, not true necessity. Especially when it’s consistently giving other people more work and potentially requiring extra hours on their part.

      Working a demanding part-time job on top of a full-time job is stressful and exhausting, but many people do it because they have no other choice for their entire working adulthood.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Yes, I think the OP needs to tread lightly with the coworkers on reduced work time. It’s fine if she were to negotiate a change to P/T status, but just to say she can’t do all the work assigned and work all the hours required doesn’t work. Definitely omit the details about needing family time and 8 hrs of sleep. Particularly in the blue collar world, these are just the things that get sacrificed. It’s not beneficial for anyone, but reality is parents work opposite shifts, some folks can never afford childcare, etc. I’d be a little miffed if I was asked to pick up OP’s slack when she can’t get by on 6-7 hrs sleep for a few months.

      2. Joielle*

        Yep, this. I think a rule of thumb is that, in this weird pandemic situation, you can ethically reduce your work hours by whatever amount doesn’t cause problems for other people. Maybe you have a full time job but if you work efficiently, you can do it in 30 hours a week. I wouldn’t fault you for not working the other 10 hours if you need to care for a kid!

        But once it starts causing missed deadlines, or other people have to take on significant amounts of your work…. then you really do need to go part time, or take some leave, or work on weekends, or something, even if it means missing some time you’d rather spend doing something else.

  9. Calliala*

    Is going part time feasible? I’m in a similar situation (partner has more flexible hours thankfully) — the evening downtime was necessary, but the guilt that I wasn’t really working all my hours made it not as restful. Thankfully my employer was more than happy to adjust my status from full time to part time – I only dropped 10 hours of work but I feel so much better that I don’t need to stress over making up those hours in the evening/weekend (or worse, not making them up).

    1. GrooveBat*

      Why should *she* go part time? Why can’t he?

      Why is the immediate, knee-jerk response always, “adjust the woman’s schedule”?

      1. Artemesia*

        His schedule is by definition flexible too. When you have appointments — well you make different appointment times. No reason he can’t see patients from 7 to 9 and Saturday mornings and there will be patients for whom that works best.

        1. Always Late to the Party*

          A commenter above pointed out that if husband is a therapist somewhere other than a private practice the flexibility may not truly be feasible.

          I agree, it seems in this situation he should be able to flex but we don’t really know their full situation without more context from OP.

      2. Wednesday of this week*

        Actually, it’s been suggested above that she simply leave the work force to solve this problem!

        I share your concern.

      3. Gamer Girl*

        Because his salary is higher, probably. That’s the case in my situation. STEM field vs humanities means, for practicality’s sake (and, uh, paying bills!), STEM wins every time.

        1. Wednesday of this week*

          There are still a lot of financially practical resolutions to this other than “his work continues totally uninterrupted, and she is barely able to achieve anything.” Which is the current arrangement.

      4. Properlike*

        There was a NY Times article about women who had left the workforce completely because the male partner “couldn’t” assume childcare responsibilities that she needed. (One of them was a stay-at-home dad saying this, the husband of a woman with her own company.)

        I get that there are larger breadwinners in a marriage — my husband is one — but humanities and career trajectories are important for women, too. Family is important. Men changing the narrative and expectations and stepping up even if they’re the primary breadwinner to MAKE TIME for childcare is the way to make this more equitable over the long term.

        1. Dan*

          I saw something similar, I think in the WaPo. The story I recall profiled a female *business owner* who either gave up the business or was contemplating giving up the business because the SAHD couldn’t hack it.

          That was totally not a good look for the dude; I’m not entirely sure why he consented to participation in the story.

          1. ESH*

            I think you’re talking about the same news article. The one guy you’re remembering was horrible. He said something like, “I hope one day my wife can realize her dream, but it’s just not possible right now.” I wanted to punch him.

            There were, unfortunately, other couples in similar situations in the article. Just awful.

            I’m idly curious about what COVID will do to marriages and divorce rates.

          2. Janey-Jane*

            That’s not the entire story – she was also gone something like three weeks straight, leaving him with a toddler (fuzzy on details). Trust me, if my husband did that, we’d be having a come-to-Jesus talk too.

              1. Lady Meyneth*

                She had been traveling for business for about 3 weeks, and then 3 days after she came back, the husband threw a fit that he couldn’t do it, couldn’t take care of the child.

                Honestly, it so doesn’t change my opinion of how crappy he was one iota. Looking after your own child solo for less thatn a month is hard, but so many people do it, and he was UNEMPLOYED. I mean, come on!

            1. ESH*

              Oh, wow. I definitely stand corrected, then. I did not know that and I agree that it changes my reading of the situation.

      5. AnotherLibrarian*

        Because if she goes part-time it doesn’t appear to put patients at risk, though we do not know the nature of her work. Depending on the nature of his psychiatry practice, asking vulnerable people to not have medical treatment may not be a very viable option.

  10. WellRed*

    Do you need to work full time? Can you see if company will allow you to go part time?
    (It goes without saying your husband needs to step up.)

  11. Quinalla*

    Agree very much with Alison’s comment, you husband needs to adjust his work too, the burden can’t all be on you. Maybe you are on kid duty the early shift every day (5-noon) and he takes the late shift (noon-bedtime) or or vice-versa and he just schedules appointments outside of that 9-5 window. That way, you can have some focused work time during the normal work day and he can too. Yes, you may still need to do a little bit of weekend, early morning or evening work to make up for it, but this will spread the burden out better.

    But yeah, the first thing you HAVE to address is your husband taking on some of the normal work day childcare burden. His employer will need to be flexible too and probably is with other folks already.

    However, I will say you do need to keep some recharge/relax time too. For me, that is usually evenings. I can work on the weekends some and that is ok and I can do early mornings, but I’m burned out at night and need to chill. Figure out what works best for you cause burning yourself out is not going to work.

  12. TiredMama*

    If that is the expectation, that you work nights and weekends, then I think you stop trying to work during the day and focus 100% on being present with your toddler and get what time you can with your husband. I also like the idea of your husband carving out an hour or two so you have time focus. Maybe saying you have one to two hours daytime availability right now but evening and weekend time would be enough. And remember, this won’t be forever.

    1. Dan*

      Yeah, a lot of people at my work have gotten into non-traditional work schedules, and all management says is “you all are doing a great job supporting the mission, keep it up.” One guy does two afternoons and two mornings during the week, and then works Saturdays. Another guy’s schedule is all over the place — early mornings and late evenings. Me, I’m a night owl as it is, so I don’t take meetings before lunch if I can avoid it, which is most of the time. My coworkers don’t flinch at 2am emails from me.

      Carolyn Hax likes to say, “you’re the one writing for advice, so you’re the one getting advice.” TBH, if OP’s work will support a flexible schedule, she should certainly ask for it.

      And as someone who sees his shrink on Saturdays, I say there ain’t no reason why shrinks and psychiatrists can’t offer hours outside of the traditional 9-5; Saturdays and evenings are great for us folks with “normal” jobs.

    2. sassypants*

      I agree with this, and I say this is a fellow working mom of a 1 year old, and my partner is a stay at home dad. Working from home with a toddler is HARD. I am interrupted several times a day even in the best of circumstances. If your spouse cannot share the caregiving duties with you, this is really your only other option. Even with my partner at home, I still wake up early to get an hour or two of work done uninterrupted. I wish you the best, this is a really tough time for everyone.

  13. StressedButOkay*

    Ouuff, this is tough. I agree that your husband needs to be assisting, either by blocking off time during the day, shifting hours or taking something off your plate outside of work. Outside of that, though, you might need to look at FFCRA or flexing your time.

  14. AMK*

    I have a 1 year old (almost!) as well and I feel your pain OP. My husband and I are both client facing and the juggle was awful. We ended up hiring a teenage neighbor to watch our son a few hours a few days a week (for much less than the cost of daycare) and she covers a bit, our son naps, and then we split the rest. This allows us each to get about 5-6 hours of work done each day. We had to get on the same page about social distancing and accept some increased risk (2 families going to the grocery store for example) but our quality of life is so much better.

    1. Mental Health Field Parent*

      This is exactly what we wound up doing. I’m in the mental health field, my spouse works a client-facing job, both our jobs are phone and meeting heavy… and we have two kids under 3.

      We hired a sweet, responsible teenager to come play with our kids three mornings a week. With nap, and slightly adjusted schedules (I start work much earlier than I’d ideally like to, to be done by 3pm), we get three pretty uninterrupted days of work. The other two days, we tag team depending on who has the lighter schedule that day, and do our very best to avoid scheduling meetings for the same time.

      It’s been a great thing for us, but was only possible because I know and trust the other family and their precautions. I honestly don’t know what we’d have done, because we were just not coping trying to juggle demanding jobs with very young kids. I spent a lot of time feeling guilty about being a bad parent and a bad employee.

    2. Alexis Rose*

      I work with so many fantastic teenagers whose families are really struggling right now as parents have been laid off. A lot of them have always been expected to work to support their families. A summer nannying gig would be a godsend for a lot of them.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, or maybe a family member? I watch my sister’s 2 and 4 year old for four hours ever other Saturday, so she can work. It’s not ideal, but with my job it is the best I can offer. So, there maybe someone else who can step up. Also, the husband needs to be doing more.

  15. Grumpy Lady*

    I get that your husband normally sees patients 9-5 but in this case reality gets a vote. He has to help somehow. Maybe shifting appointments a few days a week so you can have time in the AM to work while he takes primary childcare duties. Also Im confused why he expects you to work with the toddler and be distracted but he cant. Everyone understands this is the new normal.

    1. The Rat-Catcher*

      As a healthcare provider (if they are in the US), he is subject to HIPAA. Having a child, even a small one, around is a violation. And an unexpected person in the room could be a trigger for clients with certain conditions.
      I totally agree that husband needs to look at some of the options presented here, if he hasn’t already. But I do see why this one is not feasible.

    2. Dahlia*

      A medical professional can’t have another person in the room while they’re seeing patients.

  16. Jennifer*

    I think your husband needs to cut back on hours. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy, but I’ve been hearing from so many women who think it’s a foregone conclusion that their husbands can’t take care of THEIR kid during work hours because their jobs are just so, so much more important, but that’s simply not true. You both need to sit down together and work out a schedule with work and childcare that works for BOTH of you. You trying to work and care for a toddler while he gets to work all day uninterrupted just isn’t fair. Your work and your mental health are important too.

    1. Anon234*

      Exactly this!
      And what drives me wild is my colleague (male) has decided his job (the same as mine exactly) is so important That his wife needs to rearrange her work life to enable his to have a day uninterrupted by their kids.
      Meanwhile, I do the same job as him but look after two under 10s because MY husbands job is too import to do childcare etc.

      Do you ever get the feeling women generally are getting dumped on?
      FYI- I used to work in healthcare hands on with patients and it was still down to me to rearrange my work around the kids.
      I’be been reading more and more about how this is disproportionately affecting women in the workforce.

      1. Jennifer*

        I definitely do. A lot of men are just assuming that their wives will handle all the childcare without a second thought. Some of the stories I’ve read have just been heartbreaking. So many women just coming into their own in their careers forced to take a step back or quit altogether.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          Yes. It sounds from OP’s update below like her husband isn’t in this category, but the overall societal trends are enraging.

          A friend of a friend is married to a lawyer, and she just takes it for granted that he needs blocks of time where he can concentrate in order to write. Meanwhile, she’s a teacher and is trying to hold live office hours while making her kids’ lunch.

          Pre-COVID, I saw it as husbands whose gym time was built into the family schedule as a necessity on days that the wife was too swamped with family responsibilities to take a shower. During COVID it’s just gotten worse.

          Makes me glad I’m a lesbian.

          1. Mad Maxima*

            Wow. I’m a lesbian and I divorced my ex-wife because of her refusal to be an equal parent (ie acting like the husbands in the stories you mentioned). I know another lesbian couple who broke up for the same reason. This kind of thing is not exclusive to heterosexual couples at all.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              You’re right – I shouldn’t be flippant about it just because my own experience of parenting has been much more equal.

          2. Bubble Tea*

            I broke up with my fiancée not long after we started discussing having kids because I realized I would be shouldering the bulk of the work around parenting responsibilities even though we both worked full-time earning about equal salaries.

            It is fine and valid to acknowledge that there is a trend in society where women take on more parenting work than men. Changes can’t be made unless we are aware and talking about things.

            But acting like you are somehow above or excluded from this because of your sexual orientation is cringey and eyerolly. As a lesbian I’m embarrassed by your comment.

          3. Martinap*

            If someone posted they were glad they were gay because they didn’t want to deal with women, they would be flamed and told off.

        2. blackcat*

          As someone coping with this, a lot of it is that male workers often get a lot of pushback from their employers when they asked for flexibility. My husband is the only father of a young child without a stay at home (or unemployed) wife on his team, and he got A LOT of pushback when he blocked out two mornings a week so he could provide childcare during those times. Just 8 hours total!
          With layoffs and furloughs, it’s hard to not worry about being the one who pushes back on this set up.

          1. Wednesday of this week*

            But women also get penalized for asking for flexibility. Research suggests even more so, including the phenomenon of “mommy-tracking.”

        3. Lady Heather*

          Btw, my relative is a Director of Nursing and they 0ften complain that when one of their female nurses has a sick child, the female employee stays home with them (unpaid caregiver leave), even though there is a father/husband in the picture – which creates staffing issues
          My response to that tends to be: with the low wages you pay them, they can probably better afford to have the female nurse stay home..

          I don’t think we can ignore the effects of the wage gap. And the wage gap is two-dimensional: women are more often employed in healthcare, teaching and nonprofits – the three most underpaid industries (in my country) – and then within those industries, there is the ‘same work for less pay’ wage gap.

          (Although we shouldn’t ignore wage gap effects, the ‘women should sacrifice their job for their family’ effect also persists when the woman is the breadwinner – so solving the wage gap wouldn’t solve this in full.)

          1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            “My response to that tends to be: with the low wages you pay them, they can probably better afford to have the female nurse stay home..”

            Good point.

          2. Double A*

            It’s such a tough self-reinforcing problem. Women are paid less because of children. Then, when childcare needs come up, within the family structure it just “makes sense” for them to take the hit because they make less.

            If anyone is confused about what structural sexism looks like, there it is.

        4. eshrai*

          This is heartbreaking and frustrating. I am divorced and my ex husband and I very evenly split childcare duties. We got together and worked out a schedule that doesn’t create too much of a burden on either of us. We are lucky that our childcare opened up again for essential workers. We are both considered essential and secured a spot for 3 days a week. And my ex’s job is more demanding than mine. We work for the same agency, but he is a manger over a very large staff while I am a trainer with no training going on right now. Not once did he expect me to take on more than him during this time. So I take this to show, that while in general, women are more put upon during this time, things are changing slowly.

      2. Somniloquist*

        This happened to me in part. My husband who does legitimately have a job where he must be present in a lab, was going to leave me home with our toddler and I just… we had some real fights about it and I felt like on top of caring for the baby, working nights, I needed to die on a hill once a week at home.

        My job also pays more and so economically it makes more sense to keep mine, and even still it was hard to beat through the base assumption that my job was more important. And my husband is a great guy and is not sexist! He made it work. Frankly, the majority of these men could make it work somehow if they needed to.

      3. Lady Heather*

        There was a very interesting study that showed that even when (in heterosexual relationships) the woman was the bigger earner or had the greatest earning potential, the man’s job was often prioritized. One example is the ‘who stays home with the baby, but there were others – when a man loses his job it’s an emergency, when a woman loses her job it’s not, not even if the woman’s salary is enough to sustain the family and the man’s is not. (I believe this was shown, among other things, in the amount of time a woman spends helping the man find work vs spends finding herself work, and the reverse) Man has his own business that barely breaks even, woman is a high earner who loses her job: she’ll help out with the business instead of looking for work.

        I’ll try if I can find the study.

        1. Anon342*

          This indeed happened to me.
          Both my husband and I worked as doctors (I now work in a different industry). But I noticed how he prioritized his job as somehow more important than because it was surgery. I was by far the higher earner earlier on in our careers, but if patients needed cancelling due to our kids being sick I was the one to cancel all my patients. There is for sure a heirarchy in medicine with this, I’ve noticed.

          We are slowly getting more balance. It’s so weird because I always would have considered myself quite a strident feminist and proudly equal, but there is an insidiousness to this dynamic which is hard to break, even if you are like me and always hoping for equality.

          1. specialist*

            Surgeon here. This doesn’t surprise me at all. We are surgeons. We always think we are more important. Glad you were able to deal with this.

        2. Lady Heather*

          I found the study, but it caught in moderation when I tried to link it.
          Google “Even Breadwinning Wives Don’t Get Equality at Home” and then there’s an article from the Atlantic.

          The study referenced is called “Stand By Your Man: Wives’ Emotion Work During Men’s Unemployment” by Aliya Hamid Rao, it can be found online without a paywall.
          (And I know this is beating a dead horse.. but couldn’t they make that study about husbands and wives, rather than men and wives?)

        3. AnotherAlison*

          Ugh. So true. I am the breadwinner, and my husband acknowledges this. He is a business owner, and he will tell you most of his career has been owning his job, rather than a business. He’s on a different path now, but that’s not relevant to this discussion as our youngest kid turns 16 in less than a month.

          Anyway. Most of my career has been pretty predictable office work. His schedule varies day to day. Occasionally, he will have a 12 hr day, but when he was working solo, he often did morning child duty, went to work at 9, and would be home by 4. He would have some invoices and scheduling to do, but he didn’t spend hours doing this. Meanwhile, I might be working 7-5 and through my lunch, rushing to pick someone up from practice, or leaving mid-day for a kid’s dr. appt. When I had a hard stop at 5, then I might have to pick work back up later at home. This all seemed reasonable to him because his schedule was not predictable. In his mind, we did the same amount of stuff.

          Here’s what happens after 20 years: The female breadwinner gets burned out and could now give a f*ck about anything. I’m working to the point where I can get the house paid off around the time the youngest is out on his own, and I’ll have a pretty good nest egg by then, too. I’ll be working for health insurance (not working in his business because we don’t see eye to eye). Maybe in my job, maybe not. Otherwise, I will be doing what I feel like doing for the next 20 years. Right now, I’m also trying to fix my oldest son’s iPhone and my other son has texted me to request a shoe order. I’ve honestly had it up to here with taking care of people.

          1. Lady Heather*

            Oh, wow. You sound absolutely fed up and utterly worn out.

            I hope things get better for you, whatever shape ‘better’ might take.

            Ghost hugs for you.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Thank you. Today has just been one of those days, so I may have been more expressive than normal! It sounds like I’m building up a secret bank account and am about to run out on my family from what I wrote. It’s not all bad, but there are some hard truths about being a professional and a mother that few people acknowledge.

        4. Armchair Expert*

          I remember when my friends and I were all pregnant/had young children and were discussing this. Without exception, we were all the ones to go part-time and/or shift to a more flexible career.

          Those of us who earned less than our partners said “it’s not sexist, it’s just that it makes economic sense”. Those of us who earned more said “it’s not sexist, it’s just that I’m more established, so it’s fair that I step back a bit and we prioritise his career for a bit so he can catch up.”
          And that’s not even counting the women whose partners were the lower earner by a long way and had far more flexibility (I’m thinking of a medical friend with a freelance artist partner in particular) who stepped back because “it’s not sexist, but he’s put in so many years of effort and his art means so much to him I can’t bear to derail it.”

  17. Observer*

    Unfortunately, I don’t see any way for you to get through this without some additional stress. That doesn’t mean that the entire solution is “suck it up and work yourself till you collapse.”

    1. As everyone else says, you need to have a serious conversation with your husband. This cannot all fall just on you.

    2. You should block out some time each evening and on the weekend to get work done. Not every waking minute, and not 40 or even 30 hours worth. But if you block a reasonable amount of time out and know that you will walk away when that time is done, it will give you some uninterrupted time with a bit less stress. Making it planned, structured and defined really does help.

    3. Find household related stuff that you can outsource. If you are shopping in person, pay for delivery. Same for cooking vs take out etc. Even if this is not a normal part of your budget, figure that the money you are saving on childcare can be used to take up the slack.

    1. Observer*

      4. All of the people that are saying to shift your schedule are on target. Don’t try to do 2 40 hour work shifts each week. Rather split that – try to work some of your hours during normal work hours so you are available for meetings, etc. And then work the rest of your hours on an unconventional schedule.

      1. Retail4life*

        This ^^^^

        I would also say to remember that this is temporary. Day care won’t be closed forever, even though it might feel like it.

        I’ve worked 60 hour weeks for years and unfortunately it isn’t temporary, it’s what is required to pay bills. It sounds like you’re aware of your privilege in your letter but aren’t willing to give it up. It’s framed as an all or nothing – protect my mental health in the way that I want or work 24/7 – and it’s not that. You’re still privileged and if you implement Observers ideas you’ll be able to have both.

        When I’m privileged enough, I make sure to always have 1 full day off a week, usually Sundays. Sometimes when there’s an opportunity I can’t pass up and need to work on a Sunday, I remind myself it’s temporary. Like holidays in retail, it’s crazy and not ideal for your mental health but it’s a couple of months and then you take some time off in Jan. So maybe plan a staycation/camping/safe vacation a couple months from when you adjust your schedule for some relief.

        I also wonder what’s happening to the work that you’re unable to do. Is it okay that someone with no kids or teenagers has to work extra hours or weekends and give up their downtime to get your work done? Is there mental health and need to recharge somehow less important? Maybe they sound annoyed that they have to sacrifice their mental health for yours and maybe your caring coworker suggested you work nights because that’s what they have to do. I would be more than annoyed.

        1. Kim*

          Except it’s not temporary in many cases. Schools in my area are not going back full time. This is what life will look like for at least the next year.

          1. Joielle*

            I actually think it’s very kind! It’s ok to be gently reminded that you are privileged.

            1. I Do Have a Family*

              It’s very kind to think of the coworkers who are picking up the slack. I don’t have children, so I often have (and have had to) pick up the slack for those who do. I have to work overtime, weekends and holidays. “You don’t have a family, you can work 80 hours this week/all weekend/Christmas!” Um, I do have a family, just not children, and even if I were entirely alone in this world, I still deserve time off.

              I can’t even express my annoyance at this because then I’m the awful person who doesn’t understand. I’m not a team player. Oh, and I’m woman, so there’s that lovely gendered expectation of being nice all the time.

              OP can’t keep doing this to her coworkers. It’s not okay. They’re not getting paid extra to do her work. They have families and health issues and mental health needs, too. Something has to give. I’d prefer it be the husband, because that’s his kid, too, but something.

        2. Epsilon Delta*

          OP, can you talk to your former daycare or other daycares in the area to see if they have plans for reopening? They might not know yet, and even if they do have a firm reopen date it could change if there’s an outbreak in their facility, but having a sense of “I have to deal with this for X amount of time” should help you figure out short term vs long term solutions. If daycares are not reopening until 2021 you need a different approach than if they are going to try to reopen next month.

          What are your husband’s suggestions for this situation? Does he understand how much this is affecting your work and causing you stress? How much flexibility does his work give him? Can one of you reduce to part time hours (and pay)?

          I also like the idea of hiring a sitter or even a full time nanny if that is something you are comfortable with pandemic-wise. It may be your only option for preserving your downtime and contuining to work if daycares stay closed long term.

    2. Jennifer*

      Yes, if it’s in the budget spring for one of those meal kits where everything is chopped up and ready to get on the stove.

      1. Red Wheelbarrow*

        “Also I’m confused why he expects you to work with the toddler and be distracted but he can’t.”

        I agree 100 percent that they need to talk about how the husband can contribute more time with/attention to the children. But a psychiatrist working with patients, with strict rules about privacy, can’t have another person (even a child) in the room with them while they work.

  18. Amber Rose*

    Take your pay, you deserve it. If not necessarily for the volume of work you currently do, then for even trying to work in this mess and for the time you used to work and for the time you will work in the future when this is over. Take your evenings, burning yourself out doesn’t help anyone and only hurts you. Nobody is realistically expected to work 16 hours a day without snapping. Don’t beat yourself up for needing to take care of yourself while you take care of your family and your job.

    Speaking as the other side, yeah I get fed up with my coworker and her kids and how she’s just randomly unavailable all through the day and I have to pick up the slack. But it’s not like I have exactly been doing the same volume of work either. I’m stressed and tired, I can barely focus most days. I’ve made more mistakes than usual, some kinda bad. We’re all stressed and losing our minds.

    It’s a battle of competing frustrations and it’s not anyone’s fault except the government.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      No, the OP doesn’t deserve full-pay. She is getting full pay for part time work. That’s not fair to her company or coworkers, and I imagine continuing in this way is going to hurt the OP’s career.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s up to her company to make that call. Since they haven’t told her to go part time, they are fine with her receiving full time pay. Putting the blame on OP for receiving her pay is assuming her company has no authority here and it’s all her decision, which is objectively ridiculous.

        1. Irish MN*

          LW asked about the ethics of the situation, though, and yes – if you are not fulfilling your obligations it is unethical to continue to get full pay. Just because your company allows it doesn’t mean it’s ethical, or that your coworkers aren’t going to start resenting the fact that they have to pick up the slack.

          1. Nita*

            Agreed, as unfortunate as this is for OP. Her coworkers are probably working harder than ever, and if they don’t have small kids, that doesn’t mean their life is free of burdens and stress. At my office we have billable hours, so we just get paid for time worked. In OP’s shoes, though, I’d bring it up with management and ask to drop down to part-time until this blows over…

          2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            Yeah, I realize that it’s definitely difficult for OP. No doubt about that whatsoever. But if her employer has her coworkers do some of her work for her, on top of their own work, probably causing them to work nights and weekends, so that OP doesn’t have to work nights and weekends (because if she did she’d be miserable), I’ll bet it would make her coworkers pretty miserable. It doesn’t matter whether they have kids or not- everyone has important things to do. I think a more flexible schedule and an adjustment to how her husband contributes (and it looks like they have made some adjustments based on the update) is the way to go. I hope it all works out for OP!

      2. Irish MN*

        Ann O’Nemity, I agree with you. I do think it is unethical to take full pay when you’re not doing all the work that would normally be required for that level of compensation. Especially if that work is being done by other people, meaning that they have to work harder for the same amount of money.

        When lockdown first started, being flexible and understanding was absoluetly in order. Now, however, people have had time to figure out what they can and can’t do. You can only push back for so long before people start thinking, what ARE you doing to justify the paycheck you get every month?

        I’m not trying to be cruel, but realistic. The coworker who suggested working evenings may well be thinking, you chose to have children, you choose to be with a partner who can’t or won’t help to ensure you can meet your committments, and now I am stuck fulfilling them, for no more pay, while you get your full salary. If I were in that position, I’d be getting pretty annoyed and yet I’d feel like I couldn’t say anything because I’d look like an insensitive jerk. That is bad for morale and bad for LW’s professional reputation.

        1. I woke up like this*

          “Now, however, people have had time to figure out what they can and can’t do. ” Well, it’s so funny, because in all this time, my toddler has not figured out how to change her own diaper or feed herself or entertain herself without seriously harming herself. What the heck has she been doing with all this time?! Such a slacker. /sarcasm

          1. Irish MN*

            What I mean is, people are coming to the realization that they used to be able to do A-D and now they can only do A and B. This requires decisions to be made. It’s tough and it isn’t fair but it’s reality.

          2. High School Teacher*

            This is a disingenuous comment. You’ve had more time to figure out scheduling and childcare options. This doesn’t mean that your boss should stop being flexible, but the fact is back in March and April it was expected for many working parents to be floundering while figuring stuff out, but its been months now.

            1. I woke up like this*

              You’re right. I was being needlessly snarky; this letter hits close to home, and the dismissive comments in the post hit even harder.

              You’re also right that it’s been months, but that simplifies the situation. It’s been several exhausting, shitty, and constantly changing months. My partner and I had seriously considered getting a babysitter when cases were low a month ago, and the next week, cases started surging again. It’s impossible for parents to make plans because everything is always changing. My five year old starts kindergarten in two months, and the school hasn’t released its plans yet (and for good reason; the admin explains they are waiting to see how the area fares in cases and transmission). It’s been months, but how can I plan for the future when we don’t know how/if schools will open? And then, one week we read stories about how kids have minimal risk of significant symptoms, the next week we read that relatively healthy kids develop weird, strange chronic conditions. One week, WaPo publishes a story that kids rarely contract or transmit COVID, the next week Texas childcare facilities are dealing with outbreaks. (And yes, I know that the TX cases are still relatively low numbers, but as a parent, these stories don’t create any ease when making decisions.)

              So my comment was unfair. I totally agree. But I do think it’s unfair to say “it’s been months” as if the past several months have been static, stable, predictable–as if we have any other period in history to look to for models. It’s been a wild, exhausting rollercoaster these past several months, and once Fall hits, everything will change again. It really is an impossible situation for parents of young children (and for everyone else, too, because trying to be productive during a global pandemic and amidst political chaos is not easy or even healthy!).

        2. mwut*

          I strongly disagree that it’s unethical for the OP to take full pay during this time, even if they’re unable to work at their usual level. The company benefits from continuing to pay the OP their full salary in at least two ways that I can think of.

          First, the salary helps the company retain a good worker. Even if this continues for another year, this period is hopefully a small fraction of the time they hope to employ the letter writer, and continuing to pay the full salary increases the likelihood that they emerge from the pandemic with OP able to perform well in the job, rather than having the expense of hiring and training someone new.

          Second, showing that they treat employees well in times of crisis should help the company hire and retain other good workers.

          Please consider, most people wouldn’t say it’s unethical for employees to take paid leave for family care (new parents, taking care of sick family members) or for their own health reasons. Providing that leave benefits the company in similar ways.

          OP, I think it is ethical for you to take the salary your employer is willing to pay you. If the situation reaches the point where it no longer benefits the company to employ you at that salary, it’s on them to try to negotiate a different agreement with you (like part time work for a fraction of your salary) or to let you go.

      3. Always Late to the Party*

        I think this would be true if it was a short-term issue, like several weeks to a month after a long period of high performance. Assuming OP is in the US it may be several more months to a year of this activity, and I think even for a stellar employee, taking full pay when you’re not truly working full time for an extended period like that is not ethical.

      4. Double A*

        Think of it this way. She’s doing all the work of raising a kid, which benefits society, for free. Normally, we expect parents (especially mothers) to pay to raise their kids, even though well-raised children benefit everyone. Right now, other people and structures in society need to actually pay for the invisible work. It’s not fair now, but it wasn’t fair before — it was just way more invisible before.

        1. Always Late to the Party*

          IMO this is flawed because it puts the burdens associated with child-rearing on folks who did not choose to have children. Also, while a well-raised child benefits society as a whole *I suppose* that benefit is marginal compared to the benefits parents receive (pride, joy, experiences with their child, someone to take care of them when they are older, all these lovely things I hear parents talk about).

          I agree with you that our society is flawed in the way we treat parenting as unpaid labor, but I think it’s a huge reach to say it’s appropriate to shift that burden to folks *who did not choose it* and receive very marginal benefits of these supposed well-raised children (which is also highly subjective).

            1. SJPxo*

              I agree with Irish MN and Always Late To The Party, it is absolutely unethical. Plus like Irish MN says it likely will indeed build resentment from staff who have either got more childcare flexibility, or are child free. I have found this in my current job where a lot of the researchers have children and can’t be in the lab so haven’t been working much, while me as an senior sec. to a professor have been busier than ever and it has at times been a bit of a bitter pill to swallow knowing I’m working a crazy busy schedule and others who get paid double what I do doing not a whole lot.
              Some on the team have been really a good ‘team’ in their houses and shared childcare more equally and worked evenings and weekends to still work their full time or as near full time as they can. It’s what’s most fair for everyone that we all try and do our hours

          1. sequined histories*

            I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t have children. If I live to be old and feeble, will I be able to take care of myself? No, I won’t, even if I have plenty of money. At a certain point, I will be dependent on the labor of younger workers.

            On a day-to-day level, I certainly don’t want to lose out on all my leisure time because my coworkers have kids and I don’t.

            But, on the other hand, we live in a society. We all depend on people outside our immediate families for our very survival.

            It is fair and reasonable to acknowledge that, in the aggregate, parents are called contributing to society in a substantial way when they devote their unpaid labor to raising their children.

            1. Always Late to the Party*

              I realized my comment comes off more generally, and clarified in my response to Avasarala below. I just think taking on significantly more work/stress without compensation so your manager can receive FT compensation and work PT crosses the line as to what one can reasonably request an individual employee to contribute to “society.”

          2. Avasarala*

            Wow. You sound like someone who doesn’t want to pay taxes for schools because you don’t have kids, or pay for road construction because you don’t have a car.

            The benefits of having well-raised children are paying for your insurance as you get older and sicker. Staffing the restaurants and drive-throughs and grocery stores you rely on for food. Creating new music and books and movies you enjoy. Working as your doctors and lawyers and processing your payroll. Creating solutions for climate change so that the Earth is still livable after you die.

            1. Always Late to the Party*

              That wasn’t my intention. I think there’s a stark difference between “I pay taxes which support education” and “I have to take on extra hours/work/stress *for an extended period of time* because my manager who receives more compensation than I do is being paid full-time while working part-time and raising a toddler.” (NB I recognize I’m projecting here; I don’t think know for sure OP is shifting the burden to her subordinates)

              The former is giving back into a *system* which benefits society, and from which I benefited as a child as well, and which I could count on to educate my children should I ever choose to have them. The latter places the burden of child-rearing of an *individual child* on someone who had no choice as to whether the child existed. Many folks would be resentful in that situation. Of course companies/coworkers should be supportive of their coworkers with children, and cover/have flexibility when possible. I think covering the work of someone else for an extended period of time without further compensation, while that person continues to receive FT pay for a job they are not fully performing crosses that line.

              By all means, let’s have government-funded free daycare for everybody. I’d happily pay more in taxes for that.

          3. Grapey*

            I don’t want kids myself – gestures to thread, plus saw my own single mother get the crap end of the stick 35 years ago and I’ve only seen things get WORSE for moms since then – but there are more than “marginal” benefits to raising children right. They are our future neighbors, workforce and politicians.

            My own mom dropped out of her job to raise me, and tons of publically funded programs like Headstart and WIC did a damn good job at making sure I didn’t suffer in life. I’d gladly pay way more taxes to support more public child care/education.

        2. windsofwintergreen*

          Raising a child does not always benefit society. Sometimes, even if the parents are fantastic, the child grows up and heads down a negative path.

      5. 100 Red Swedish Fish*

        This isn’t going to be popular but there has to be plan for OP as management to do her job fully now. We are 4 months into this with no real end in sight (its looking like at least January). Its no longer fair to push off work on other people(doubly so if you are managing), the OP needs to make time to do the job fully or find another option (take leave, go part time, find another position). This is not fair to the people that work under the OP, especially since OP is pregnant and potentially will be putting more work on everyone.

      6. Avasarala*

        She absolutely deserves full pay. If her company doesn’t offer a system where parents can take leave, then this is what happens. It’s like coming into work sick and then saying “well you worked sick and only got half your work done so you should only get half pay.”

        If that’s how you think it should work, then how come workers don’t get double pay on days they’re extra productive?

    2. cheeky*

      No, she doesn’t deserve and hasn’t earned full pay if she’s not working full time.

  19. darlingpants*

    I want to first say that this sounds like it sucks, and it’s not your fault that it sucks. But… getting no work done is ok in short term emergencies, for a month or two. Daycare is going to be closed for a very long time, and I really think you have an obligation to your coworkers to get yourself up to somewhere between 50-80% productivity. 100% is unrealistic, but I do think you need to figure out a way to shift your work hours so there are times you can actually focus and accomplish stuff.

    You don’t need to spend every evening and weekend working, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to work one weekend day and two nights a week. I would try to make the shifted hours official with your manager. Maybe having time during the weekday where you’re only taking care of your son and not even checking email will make that time easier than trying to multitask? If you combine that with your husband shifting some of his appointments so that you have 2-4 hours every day where you aren’t caregiving, that would bring up your actual working hours and hopefully your productivity pretty quickly.

    Again, this situation is really really hard, and there aren’t any great solutions. But if your coworkers are working extra hours at night and on the weekend to pick up your slack, it’s pretty crappy that you aren’t willing to do the same.

    1. Ginger*

      This is a really fair response. Not doing the work and not working any nights or weekends isn’t going to cut it for the long haul.

      OP – I totally get it, I have a 1 yr old and 3 yr old and its HARD but you have to figure out something for the long term because this isn’t going away anytime soon and/or it may circle back again.

      1. Your husband needs to step up in a big way
      2. You need to reevaluate nights/weekends. Maybe two nights you put in a few hours. If your kiddo is in bed by 6 (ps – lucky you to have a good sleeper!!) you can add a few hours in the week there and a few hours on the weekend is a fair give.

      I feel like this is a position a lot parents are going to be in soon – coworkers and management are doing well now but we can’t continue to sort of work/sort of not work for months and months on end.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Yeah, I have a 2 year old and a 6 month old. I am paying for a babysitter for 6 hours a day, and then I usually work for another hour or two in the evenings after my toddler goes to bed at 7pm. I get that when the shut down was only for 2 weeks (sigh) it didn’t make sense to try to find alternative care, but she absolutely needs to pay for child care and get a permanent solution.

    2. Tuckerman*

      I think this is the best option. Toddlers require so much attention (just to keep them safe) and trying to work around the clock will cause massive burnout. That might be why LW hesitates to work nights/weekends. But just a couple evenings and 1 weekend day could make a big difference in productivity, which may actually reduce her overall stress.

    3. AdoraNY*

      This line jumped out at me – “I really cherish the few moments I have to just relax with my husband in the evening or take a long walk with my family on a Saturday.“ I’m sure the OP’s coworkers cherish that same downtime but are sacrificing somewhat to help get her work done. I agree that clearly 100% productivity isn’t possible but it does sound as though there’s some leeway for the OP to do more. Especially considering her toddler has a regular bedtime. Downtime is necessary and the OP’s husband needs to also be more flexible. The solution isn’t to just put all this on the coworkers’ plate – they might not be in this exact situation but I’m sure they are also stressed out by the state of the world right now.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, this. It seemed a little hyperbolic to suggest that she only has a “few moments” with family that she’d have to give up in order to work more. Like you said, everyone likes having downtime, but you can’t consistently prioritize your own downtime over your coworkers’.

      2. Amy*

        Yeah – I wasn’t a fan of that line either (I have young kids and am in the same boat.)

        1. SJPxo*

          All of these comments have been absolutely spot on. Husband needs to free up some of his time to help LW and LW does need to sacrifice some nights and a weekend day, as like you all say, likely her coworkers do too but are covering for LW and that’s not really fair on them

  20. Rusty Shackelford*

    It seems like all sides could make some compromises here. Yes, you could work some on the evenings and the weekends. And yes, your husband could shift his schedule to provide some of the 9-5 childcare. And yes, your job could expect less from you due to unprecedented circumstances. Nobody gets everything they want, but everybody gets something they want, which is all we can expect during “these difficult times.”

  21. Fashionable Pumpkin*

    I have to agree that your husband should be willing to shift his work schedule a bit more to help you- you should not have to absorb the brunt of childcare.
    That said, as a single mom, when I was in college I did all my hw on nights and weekends, and early in the morning, to fit it in around caring for my then 6 year old (who needed a lot of help on his own hw, and who was a very tantrum-y kid, so I couldn’t really do my work when he was awake). It sucked, but I made it happen. That said, if I’d had the money for a sitter, I would have hired one just to keep him occupied while I focused on my coursework.

    Is a babysitter an option for you? Maybe a neighborhood teen who is housebound due to covid, whose family is also working from home and therefore low risk? Maybe just 2 days a week, or a few hours a day, to give you more time to work so it doesn’t ALL have to wait for the evening or weekend? Hide out in a kid- free space so you’re out of sight while the sitter occupies your kiddo in a different part of the house?

    1. pieska boryska*

      Agree with this. If you post an ad on care dot com you will get dozens of applications within a day. Ask around your neighborhood. This is not a short term problem. Your husband needs to do his part by shifting his appointments around, but you’re going to need outside help. I speak from experience: my husband and I both have wfh jobs flexible enough that we COULD barely manage to juggle our 1 year old, but we burned out quickly and it was hard on our son because we were constantly distracted and stressed out. Find some help before the situation gets you on a tight leash at work.

      1. Dahlia*

        “If you post an ad on care dot com you will get dozens of applications within a day.”

        That is so incredibly area dependent, and not safe for the OP or the caregiver.

  22. Sara*

    I agree with the notion that your husband can likely shift his schedule for appointments at a different time of day. But assuming there’s some other reason why he can’t, then I think shifting your schedule to different hours would be beneficial. Perhaps changing to just clocking 8 hours where you can! Work until the baby is fussy, work during his nap and work when he’s asleep – but don’t work in between those times. Unless there’s a reason you NEED to be available form 9 – 5 every day, I think changing your perspective of what is a ‘normal’ working time would help you out.

    Also! You’re not alone here, so don’t let the guilt eat you. One of my co-worker shifted her schedule to start at 5 and ends at 2 every day to be able to overlap with her husband better. A director at my office shifted to part time hours. My friend takes off from 10 – 2 and works longer on each side of that to work with her husband’s schedule (he takes off time too). Everyone is just doing their best, and you are too.

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      You make a good point, Sara. I have a 3 year old at home right now, and a huge stressor for me was trying to work my usual hours while also giving her the attention she needed. Changing my perspective and schedule so that we have dedicated times where I give her 100% of my attention has made a big difference. I’ve noticed since I have set times where she knows she will have dedicated quality time with Mom, she’s more OK with not having my full attention while I’m working at the kitchen table.

  23. Another name*

    I think taking some time off to get some rest is a good idea- and make a plan to come back to work part time with an adjusted schedule that allows for your husband to pitch in with child care.

    You are in a tough situation but it’s not fair or ethical either to expect your colleagues to cover your workload while you’re getting full pay for trying but not getting anything done, as you said yourself. Take some time off to destress and come up with a plan that is more fair to everyone, including yourself.

  24. Delta Delta*

    I do not have kids, so I may not know what I’m talking about.

    is there a possibility of hiring someone at least part time as a nanny/carer? There may be people available with low exposure risk who could come in part of a day or a couple days a week. Coupled with perhaps the spouse shifting some time around in his schedule to also be available for the child, this might be a way to ensure everyone can do their work, the child can be cared for and get out some wiggles, and the weekend can still be available.

    1. sunny-dee*

      You are absolutely right. I have two under two, and that’s what I have to do. I have a babysitter for 6 hours a day and then make up an hour or two at night. I could actually manage with the little baby (sticker her in a bouncy chair by my desk, and it’s all good), but once they’re able to walk around, there’s no way that you can ignore them safely to work. It’s really hands-on.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      This is what I came to say. My young adult daughter, who attends college online, was laid off from her full-time daycare job when the virus hit and was just informed that the owners won’t be reopening anytime soon, possibly ever. As the federal unemployment supplement will be disappearing soon, assuming it’s not extended, my daughter will be in quite the pickle and would love to be a dedicated full-time, or close to full-time, caregiver for a single family. I imagine there will soon be quite a few other former daycare providers in her same situation and I suspect you could find someone online. Even if it’s only a half-day, that’s likely better than what you’re experiencing currently.

      I personally think that finding child care, even if only for part of the day, is your best option. And then perhaps your spouse can arrange their schedule as well to cover 2-3 hours, to allow everyone to reach at least 75-80% productivity.

      1. Delta Delta*

        I was thinking about someone exactly like your daughter. Low exposure rate, commitment to working with kids, needs work. Now I’m thinking about people I know who work in daycares, and I wonder how many of them might make the jump to in-home caring. It might be more financially beneficial to her *and* to the family. Many daycare workers I know make very low wages while the parents pay high rates – it could be they wind up somewhere in the middle and both sides win.

        I think one thing we’re going to see as an unexpected bonus of The Weirdness is how creative people can become. Just call me Professor Brightside over here.

        1. blackcat*

          Yep. My daycare is open now, but for 6 weeks I had a college student with camp counseling experience working on a healthcare degree. It was really win-win for so many reasons!
          But, depending where OP is, the costs of a sitter vs daycare can be really different. 9.5 hours per day equals 4 hours a day of a sitter. I’m lucky my toddler is a good napper and mostly a good night sleeper. With a sitter here 9am-1pm, I could work 9am-3 or 3:30pm.
          I also answered a lot of emails in the afternoon while my kid dug holes in the yard in the afternoon. I couldn’t do focused work, but I could totally answer “where is x file?” Type questions from the undergrad researchers I’m managing for the summer.
          Before we got the sitter, I would also sit out front with my laptop while my neighbor entertained my kid from a safe distance. One time, she got him to spend an hour (!!) clearing sticks and leaves from her back yard, which is really remarkable management of a 2 year old while staying 10 feet apart.

    3. anonarama*

      So while that may be possible, I know that I am having to pay my daycare the full daycare price despite my toddler not going to keep his spot. We’d definitely be paying someone to come to our home if we weren’t also paying the same amount as our mortgage for nothing at all.

  25. arcya*

    Obviously this is a situation that cannot continue forever, and I agree with Alison’s advice here – your husband is going to have to take on more of the childcare load. I know it sucks for his schedule and practice, but that’s going to have to be his pandemic sacrifice for now. As a psychiatrist he really should know that two overlapping, full time jobs (which is what you’re doing) is not sustainable, from a pragmatic or mental health perspective.

    For you OP, I really want to encourage kindness toward yourself. There’s a lot of anxiety in your letter about potentially being unethical, or how you should be doing more (you are doing SO MUCH), and guilt. I don’t want to just say “let all that go,” but I hope you are able to find ways to cope without piling everything on yourself. When you have to push back at work, please push back. When you need a moment to yourself, you are not taking from someone else. If you need to think about it like this: taking care of yourself too is one of the greatest gifts you can give those around you. You, your husband, kid, and coworkers will not be best served by you burning out.

  26. AP*

    Time is something couples should budget, just like money. You and your spouse each need to fit in around 40 hours of work, 8 hours a night of sleep, a few hours of personal/leisure time during each day, more hours during the weekend, some overlapping with each other, and your toddler needs care essentially 24/7. Perhaps take the calendar and start carving it up? If you can each shift some of your working hours, so part of the workday you take turns being unavailable while parenting, and part of the evening/weekend you’re working solo while the other spouse parents. You each might find it more relaxing to spend some toddler-focused time in during the work day, without email pinging in the background, and then some work-focused time in the evening.

    1. MissMeghan*

      I like this. Rather than coming in and telling husband he needs to shift his work hours, look at the week as a whole and see if there are places you can make room for you to have some uninterrupted work time. It would give you a chance to see what down time you value the most and where you might be okay with shifting. Personally, I’d go with working weekend mornings. Then, have a nice family lunch and have the rest of the weekend days to yourself. You could knock out 8 hours of uninterrupted work Saturday and Sunday morning while husband and kid have some bonding and breakfast time.

      I do understand the frustration your co-workers have here. I think if they are having to push back deadlines and potentially take work of your plate, it could build resentment over time if they don’t see you working in good faith to minimize that to the extent you can. Don’t sacrifice your mental health by any means, but show them you’re making the effort to share the extra burden the situation poses.

    2. Joielle*

      This is a good idea. When you’re sitting with your spouse looking at the calendar, it makes the problem at hand really concrete. Even if the husband thinks he’s doing as much as he can, I think he’d be more willing to compromise if it was hard numbers in front of him.

  27. GrooveBat*

    I agree with Alison re the husband’s schedule. Why is it so inflexible? Why isn’t he willing to bend a little and accommodate this new reality? Why is it *always* the mother’s responsibility to shift, multitask, compromise, and work into the late hours of the night to accommodate child care needs?

    There are TWO parents in this equation.

  28. Another Mama at Home*

    I’ve been in this boat as well, taking care of a 4 year old by myself while trying to work full time and manage my team. I have made adjustments to my work schedule as others have noted here, but I have also had to make adjustments to my parenting style and let go of the guilt related to that. I know your child is younger than mine so he may have a shorter attention span, but will he watch TV shows or movies? Pre-COVID I was very strict about screen time but that just stopped being feasible; now for example my team knows that my kid watches a movie every day at 2:00 so that is the best time to schedule meetings I need to be at. I have a colleague whose young child will easily spend an hour watching garbage trucks on YouTube. Also think about other activities he might engage in for a long-ish period by himself as well – would he enjoy making a big mess if you set him up with a big piece of a paper and a bunch of finger paint on newspapers on the floor? Is there a family member or friend who could read to him on FaceTime or an app like Readeo (I highly recommend that one)? If possible, set these activities for certain times of the day so that you can arrange your work availability accordingly.

    Good luck, I really feel you here. Let go of that guilt, we’re all just doing the best we can.

  29. Inoffensive Nickname*

    This is a third vote for alternate hours for husband’s clients. I would LOVE to be able to get in to see my therapist without taking time off from work. My family physician is just now starting to accommodate extended hours for people, as well. Also, not to sound mean, and it’s not sustainable, but sometimes when times get tough, both parents might have to miss some together or self time for a short period of time in order to get by. I don’t mean you should sacrifice your happiness to stay efficient at your job, but there are ups and downs in marriages and parenting, and right now this is a huge “down” for a lot of families, so nearly everyone is adapting to a new normal. You are already ahead of the game having worked from home before the pandemic. This is just going to be one more adaptation. Just like the huge change that came to your life when you became a parent, although this one wasn’t planned, you still have some control over how you choose to adapt.

  30. Argus*

    You need to shift your schedule so that you’re working when you are actually free to do the work, which sounds like evenings and weekends. Even before the pandemic, lots of people adopted flexible work schedules in order to care for families while holding full time jobs.

    And yes it is ethically problematic to be taking a full-time salary while doing part-time work. It’s kind of your coworkers and boss to be accommodating thus far but it’s not sustainable.

    1. Senor Montoya*

      If OP is not being paid hourly, there is nothing unethical about getting her full pay even if she’s working less than full time. No doubt there were plenty of times that OP worked more than 40 hours/week and did not get extra pay for it. If her employer is willing to pay the full salary that’s all that matters, really.

      Some years ago my husband had an incapacitating injury and could not work ANY hours for a couple of months. Applied for FMLA, was ready to go on leave w o pay. Boss said, no, we value you and know how much extra work and time you have given us over many years. You will receive your regular pay. (I couldn’t believe it either!) He got paid his full salary and benefits for over two months while not working at all.

      It was not unethical for him to be paid while not working. The boss made a business decision, and a pretty smart one I think — as you csn imagine, that’s the sort of thing that inspires loyalty. My husband still works there. There’s a lot of longevity in that office.

      1. Argus*

        That’s the boss’s prerogative, certainly. This case appears to be different.

        With regard to being salaried: Yes, being salaried means you don’t always have to work exactly 40 hours a week. But if you’re full time, the expectation is still that you’ll be putting in full-time hours — as opposed to part-time hours — as a general matter.

      2. cheeky*

        People who are salaried and working full time are actually expected to work full time, generally.

    2. Amy Sly*

      My parents homeschooled my sister and me for years by having Mom work as a nurse 7-4 and Dad work as an ultrasound tech 2-11. (And yeah, Dad got very good at cooking, cleaning, running errands, and general household management so Mom wouldn’t have to do it all when she got home.) Now, we were old enough to be left on our own for a couple hours in the afternoon, but if LW could find childcare for those couple hours of overlap, that would still leave her able to work 40 hours a week and still have weekends off. Or she could wait until the husband gets off and get in a solid 6 hours a week every evening, which would still be far more than she is now.

      Split schedules are a thing people do when it makes the most sense for their priorities in life, even without Covid. Embrace the opportunities they provide.

      1. WS*

        Yep, my parents did the same – my dad worked 7-4 as a surveyor (he could basically pick his hours as long as they were daylight and he worked enough of them) and my mum 2-11. He stayed home if one of us got sick. When they had a third child, the baby went to daycare until he and I were old enough for me to look after him for a few hours. The OP has noted above that her partner is a registrar, and registrars have little control over their hours, but even so he needs to be doing the childcare after 5pm to allow OP to work.

  31. anneshirley*

    as someone who attends therapy, I definitely wouldn’t mind if my therapist told me that he now had some unavailability during traditional hours and availability later in the day/weekends. Honestly, I’d be glad, because having to fit in appointment during my own workday can be difficult! I think this is something your husband could definitely do and patients would be cool with, (especially if he isn’t attached to a larger clinic with hour requirements, etc.)

  32. notpopular*

    This is going to be unpopular but as someone without kids who is never having kids it is frustrating to be asked to make sacrifices for people with children. Childless people are not a charity, particularly to people who are in well paid positions with well paid spouses. You don’t need charity.

    Society should make jobs more family friendly because people do have families. I’m not against that. But making things family friendly should not be based on asking everyone else to donate extra work to those with kids. The burden always seems to be put on co workers, instead of on companies to do things like hire more people or pay decent part times wages.

    The burden to make things family friendly should fall on companies, not co workers. I’d be frustrated with a company that allowed a co worker to do half the work at full pay who made no personal sacrifices to sort out the situation. I’d be wanting more pay than the parent in question, in that circumstance.

      1. notpopular*

        So they can realise they are wrong to be asking charity of their co workers and they can start making some sacrifices like working outside of 9-5.

        I’d be so annoyed if my half working co worker didn’t want to work outside 9-5 simply because it might make them unhappy. This person is literally asking other people to donate happiness to them – you work harder, you be more unhappy so I can be happy.

        They need to hear the truth and realise they need to change. If this person had no other options I’d understand but they clearly do have a range of options but are currently seeking to maximise their own life at the expense of others.

        1. EBStarr*

          I actually don’t think it’s clear that the coworkers are working harder or donating happiness for her. It really depends on the field. I’m in software and if we don’t have enough resources to meet a deadline, it frequently just… moves. No one is expected to donate happiness for others; the company just plans projects based on the actual capacity of each person. This is obviously an ideal scenario and not all companies are willing to follow it, but OP doesn’t mention that she has coworkers working at night to get her work done or anything like that, and it’s not a safe assumption that they are.

          Obviously if the OP is working at a research lab that’s trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine by September, that’s a bit different! But it really depends on the job.

        2. Lana Kane*

          I’m a parent. I make and have made sacrifices for coworkers who have things going on in their lives that I don’t. I figure it’s part of working with other humans.

          Abusing people’s goodwill is another issue, but doing that wrong regardless of the reason.

          1. Nita*

            Seconded. Just spent a rather horrible three days coordinating a very time-sensitive thing for a coworker who has no kids, and has gone on vacation. Some of the coordinating was done from a playground, but regardless, it was done, and he didn’t have to spend his vacation glued to a phone. I work fewer hours per day than he does, but I also haven’t been on vacation in almost 3 years, and counting. No one is lounging around doing nothing. It balances out.

        3. Senor Montoya*

          Sorry, nope. It’s not on the OP to carry that guilt burden. It’s the managers call how that work is apportioned. Now, the manageR would Be smart to come up with solutions that don’t solely burden OP’s coworkers. But it’s not OP’s decision.

          I’ve had a small child, but I have also spent most of my career not caring for a small child. I understand that at some times I’m going to pick up the slack for colleagues who have small children.

          Or who have a parent with dementia living with them

          Or who have their own health issues

          Or who are having some other life situation that makes it hard for them to work 9-5 or 40 hours a week or on demand for meetings all the time.

          If you don’t like pitching in for parents with small children, let your manager know. But from my experience, I’d say be careful about that, because some day you too will need someone to pitch in for you for a reason you can’t even imagine right now.

      2. Irish MN*

        LW asked about the ethics of the situation. Ethically, is is not okay for LW to take their full pay while their coworkers are picking up the slack and completing work that should have been done by the LW, in addition to their own jobs. More pay for less money, at the benefit of LW. Flexibility and understanding are one thing. Expecting your work status/salary to remain the same even though you aren’t meeting the requirements of the position/saladry is not okay. Even if the company allows it, it’s unethical and it’s a crappy thing to do to your coworkers.

        1. Irish MN*

          Not sure how I got “More pay for less money” – what I meant was, more work for same money.

    1. ElizabethJane*

      To an extent I agree. When I ask my coworkers to make sacrifices for me because I have kids and they don’t it’s about things like deadlines. If I’d previously have a report done by close of business, or 5PM, I ask if I can do it after bedtime. To my mind there’s not a ton of difference in impact to them since in either case it will be there when they start work the next day. And of course I’m willing to shift as needed: “Oh you actually do need X by 5:00? OK let me see if Y can come out at 10 tonight then.” But the actual amount of work isn’t passed off.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah. I had a manager who was fond of “COB” deadlines, but “COB” wasn’t a concrete term. She knows I’m a night owl, so when she’d say “COB” to everybody else, she’d look at me and say, “and for you… I get to work at 8am, and I just need it in my email by then.” I was fine with that.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      Normally I’m on board with this, but there are few to no childcare options available right now. Things are going to be weird for a while, and OP should definitely work things out with her husband to shift schedules for both of them in order to make things work a lot better.

      1. StressedButOkay*

        Yes, as a person without kids myself, I generally agree with this as well. However, the world is on fire and there are very few childcare options available right now. And even in states where centers are reopening, I don’t blame parents for not throwing their kids back in immediatedly. OP’s company should be making sure the other coworkers aren’t drowning as a result but OP is stuck between a rock and a hard place not of their own making.

        1. sunny-dee*

          There are actually tons of options. A lot of day care workers, teachers aides, etc are out of work, and a lot of college students don’t have other options for making money. You just hire someone to come to your house for a few hours. If there’s a neighbor in a similar situation, you can do a nanny-share.

          1. ElizabethJane*

            depending on area cost is a huge factor. I’m in an area that isn’t really socially distancing so I have no desire to nanny share with any of my neighbors. Daycare around here is $250-$400 a week. A nanny, before I pay employment taxes, is $750-900 a week and then you have to pay all the taxes too. “Just hire someone” isn’t practical.

            I’m not saying the OP is handling this perfectly or that she shouldn’t look for additional solutions “But just hire someone to come to your house” isn’t really feasible for a lot of people.

            1. sunny-dee*

              Then she should take a leave of absence until she can work.

              Because she is taking money for work she is not doing, she is not adjusting her hours, and she is not finding childcare. One of those things has to give. It’s not fair to her coworkers and it’s not honest to her employer.

              1. ElizabethJane*

                I don’t disagree that there are other solutions. I really think adjusting her hours is the most realistic option but I also get the impression that the OP is too close to the situation and trying to do everything all at once. When the work from home thing I felt like I had to be working 8-5. It honestly didn’t occur to me that I could work 8-10, 12:30-4, and then 8-10 again or some other adjustment to get my work done.

              2. Irish MN*

                “[S]he is taking money for work she is not doing, she is not adjusting her hours, and she is not finding childcare. One of those things has to give. It’s not fair to her coworkers and it’s not honest to her employer.”

                Exactly this.

          2. anon today*

            Where do you live, because maybe I should move there. Not at all the case in my area.

            1. sunny-dee*

              North Texas. If you’re actually looking, try care.com, sittercity.com, or FB (there’s either a babysitting group or a mom’s group even for small towns).

              1. Former Retail Manager*

                I am also in North Texas. My daughter is one of the people you mention….online college student. She is also an unemployed daycare worker and her center likely won’t be reopening, ever. The owners said they cannot compete with the large corporate owned daycares, especially in this environment. My daughter would love to be a dedicated caregiver for a single family. All of my daughter’s co-workers are also out of a job and concerned, so the people are out there. I think OP just has to work to find them.

                1. sunny-dee*

                  I have had awesome luck finding child care on FB and Nextdoor. My current babysitter is a former day care worker, but the last two were college students, who were working around school schedules (pre-pandemic). Maybe she can have some luck there.

          3. Dahlia*

            You are underplaying the risk of opening your social circle during a pandemic. Those things are dangerous. There’s no “just” to them.

          4. Carbondale*

            having another person come into your house for a few hours everyday greatly increases your family’s exposure to covid-19 and a lot of families don’t want to take that risk right now.

            1. sunny-dee*

              If you rank the risk to your family higher than your need to work (which is an entirely personal choice and I won’t say you’re wrong either way), then you need to decide what your course of action is and commit to it. “Lie to my boss and screw over my coworkers” is not a sustainable option.

              1. Joielle*

                I think this is really apt. There are several competing priorities here, and something has to give – but the OP has to actually decide which thing is going to give, not just ignore all the problems and hope everyone lets her get away with it. There’s no perfect option, you just have to make a decision.

              2. Senor Montoya*

                OP is not lying to her boss and she is not screwing over her coworkers. Wow.

          5. Jules the 3rd*

            In normal times, sure! But there’s a pandemic going on, and adding a child-care person who comes in your house is not an easy solution right now. You are adding the risk of not just that person, but also any other family they have, and any other clients they have. If it’s a random person, it can be really hard to figure out if they’re taking it seriously or not.

            *If* OP can find a person they can trust to avoid COVID who’s willing to do child care, ok, but most people are not in a position where they can afford to do just one part-time child care job. OP might look at her neighbors to see if there’s other working parents with young kids who’d be interested in trading child care.

          6. StressedButOkay*

            There’s the issue of cost, however, and the issue of the pandemic. Opening up your bubble to another person takes a lot of planning, especially as OP has said below that their husband is now going back to the hospital – there are a lot of people who wouldn’t want to take on the job to reduce their risk.

          7. TiffIf*

            Expanding our social circles and the number of people we interact closely and regularly with is not a good idea right now which is why a lot of people are NOT going this route.

      2. Manchmal*

        I’m not sure that’s true, that there are few to no childcare options available right now. My kids’ daycare has reopened, and we weren’t quite ready to take that risk, so we’ve hired someone to come to the house 4 days a week, 9-5, for less than daycare is per week. I’m not sure if this is true in every state. But there are definitely options.

      3. notpopular*

        OP is not out of options. OP wants to work 9-5 when they could work outside those hours but they refuse because it might make them sad. OP is asking co workers to make sacrifices so they don’t have to.

        That’s not the same as someone like a single mum who is totally out of options, who I would have sympathy for.

        OP has options like working more flexible hours or asking their spouse to do so. What they are doing here is trying to maximise their own life at other’s expense, they don’t want to budge on their working hours of have their husband do so. They are expecting everyone to pick up the slack for their lifestyle, not something like utterly necessary child giving.

        1. ElizabethJane*

          I would cut the OP some grace on this. While the gist of your comment is true I don’t get the sense that the OP is deliberately trying to maximize their life at the expense of others. When the pandemic started I was similar. Working an 8 or 9 hour day while simultaneously caring for a toddler and then working 3 more house at night was soul crushing. I cried. A lot. It seriously did not occur to me to maybe not start work until 10. Stop trying to do both at the same time.

          I would have also said “I can’t work on the weekends, I’m drowning”. It wouldn’t have been selfishness. And then someone was like “I don’t actually start my day until 10 because in the morning I’m dealing with my child” and I was all “Holy crap I can do these one at a time?”

          I don’t mind doing a few hours at night, or working on a Saturday morning now because I can just focus on one job at a time. But in the thick of it I was too close to realize I didn’t have to do everything all at once.

        2. Pretend Scientist*

          I agree with this. OP isn’t working much during the day and doesn’t want to work much on evenings and weekends or get less than 8 hours of sleep because it will make her feel bad?

          I also saw the update–daycare is now open but they don’t want to utilize it and that is making things at work more tense. Not good.

          1. Nita*

            I don’t know, child care is a little scary right now. Our old day care has reopened, but I know they have a physical therapist coming in to work with some of the kids. The PT also goes to the homes of other families who aren’t in day care. No problems so far, but… that’s just a step too far for me. This setup seems like a disaster waiting to happen. I don’t know what the day care owners are thinking. But here we are – technically we could put the younger kids in day care, but that sounds like courting trouble.

        3. EBStarr*

          Wait, wait, she says in her original question that she *is* working evenings and weekends. She’s just feeling guilty that she doesn’t work *every single* evening and weekend while also caring for her child 40 hours a week. That’s very different. She definitely doesn’t want to just work 9-5; that statement blatantly contradicts what she says in her question.

        4. Jackalope*

          This is really dismissive of the issue. You say multiple times on different comments that the issue is that the OP will be “sad”. The actual issue is that she will potentially be working nonstop from 8 am to 10 pm (or more) 5 days a week and then full days on the weekend, plus cutting back on sleep. That’s not sustainable for any extended time period. I’m not arguing that there are no other choices here, but this goes beyond, “I have a sad.”

        5. Beth*

          This isn’t super fair. While I understand as a child-free person myself that expecting OP’s coworkers to pick up their slack indefinitely isn’t a reasonable or viable option, OP is genuinely in a hard place.

          If they acknowledge officially that they can’t work, depending on what leave options they have access to and whether their employer will consider letting them go to part-time, there’s a reasonable chance they’ll have to quit, and a very high chance that they’ll lose income. If they send their kid to daycare, or hire someone part time to babysit (part-time implying that they likely have to have other jobs to sustain them), they’re significantly increasing their family’s exposure risk in the midst of a dangerous pandemic. If they try to keep up the status quo, where they try to be all things to all people with no help, that’s both unsustainable and likely to cause ill will; being the primary caregiver for a child with no ‘village’ to back you up is a full-time job or more, trying to do both that AND another full-time job isn’t viable for most people (I’m trusting OP that flexing their husband’s hours isn’t an option right now), so at some point OP is going to burn out, and in the meantime they’re eroding their reputation with their employer and coworkers by not getting anything done. All of these are bad options.

          We can point out that the status quo isn’t viable without somehow dismissing the difficulties of the other also-bad options available to OP here. It’s a dilemma, and even as I agree with you that OP can’t keep on working a partial workload while claiming full-time pay forever, I also have a lot of sympathy for the situation they’re in. I think you’re letting your frustration with how some employers treat child-free workers (which is a problem with the managers who expect us to pick up any slack, not with our coworkers who have children and may have times where they need flexibility) color your response here.

    3. Adrienne*

      “Childless people aren’t a charity” implies that their contributions to society that benefit children are akin to charitable contributions. But that doesn’t track.
      Children are not a solely private good. Children are the continuation of society, not a sports car.
      Someone is going to be paying the taxes that support future elderly people who never had kids. It’s the kids of people who did have kids.

      1. QCI*

        I think Notpopular went off on a tangent, loosely related to OP. Their comment would be more relevant if the topic was something like “they asked me to work weekends/nights because I don’t kids”.

        I get their point, op is doing less work and pushing it back on coworkers using the “kid” excuse, while refusing to alter their own schedule of get the husband to step up.

      2. notpopular*

        Of course children are important. But what is happening here is co workers will be working harder and longer house in order to prop up OP’s lifestyle of feeling sad at having to work in the evening. That’s not the continuation fo the species, that is one pampered person’s lifestyle choice at other’s expense.

    4. EBStarr*

      You may not have kids, but you have a body. If you ever have a health problem that requires accommodations or extra flexibility, other people may make sacrifices for you. That’s part of the deal when you work with other humans.

      Obviously sometimes companies are toxic and only provide flexibility for people with children. But given the fact that the OP’s company has been so understanding with her AND she’s the only one with kids, I sincerely doubt that they are like that. My employer, for example, has an extra pandemic leave policy in place for anyone who has to care for any family member (not just kids), but has also made it a policy to be flexible with anyone who needs it during the pandemic. Mental health problems, physical health problems, actually getting Covid-19, trouble remaining productive while at home for whatever reason — all of those are accommodated. It’s not just parents, nor should it be.

      And if you truly end up working for 45 years of your life and *never* needing extra flexibility to care for a non-child family member, or to treat/recover from a mental or physical health problem, or to deal with a personal matter that disrupts your life, then maybe count yourself lucky, rather than resenting other people for needing flexibility in extreme circumstances.

    5. Dahlia*

      It’s a pandemic. Daycares are closed. People don’t have options. Why is this so hard for people to grasp???

      1. Joielle*

        But there are SOME options. Shift your work schedule, hire help if possible, take a leave of absence, go part time. None of those may be ideal, but the OP has to do something.

        1. Dahlia*

          “Shift your work schedule”

          OP is already working evenings and weekends. Their husband can’t as a resident.

          “hire help if possible”

          It’s not.

          “take a leave of absence, go part time.”

          OP is pregnant. What if going part-time means losing their health benefits? And if they use all their leave now, what do they do when they have their second baby?

            1. AVP*

              Honestly? Doing what she’s doing and letting this ride as is until she feels better about daycare might be her best option. It’s terrible, but everything else seems to be shot down already.

              1. Joielle*

                I mean, yeah, that’s definitely an option. OP wrote in to ask if that’s ethical, and the consensus seems to be… no, not really. But we’re not the office cops, so she’s free to continue as is. People sometimes make unethical decisions, for a wide variety of reasons.

                Depending on how long it goes on for, OP might need to be concerned about being fired or getting a bad reference later on, but only the OP can weigh that against other concerns.

                1. AVP*

                  yeah, thats what I was thinking – this might be a “get through this and try to switch jobs the second you reasonably can” type situation.

                2. sequined histories*

                  My heavens. If it’s genuinely the consensus that this person is acting unethically, I think that speaks ill of all of us and shows how incredibly toxic the work culture of this social order has become. Yes, vast numbers of people are incredibly hard pressed. It’s unfair. But the unfairness isn’t stemming from some random person who’s able to “get away” with working less than 40 hours a week at full salary for a few months. And giving her a hard time isn’t going to do anything to redress your very legitimate grievances.

    6. Lana Kane*

      It’s dissapointing to see so many crossed-arms, “this is YOUR problem” responses, considering we live in a society that forces us to make impossible choices in the name of money. We have to “make a choice” between keeping our own selves housed and fed or keeping our employers profitable, all while trying to navigate a pandemic. So many of the “choices” being suggested here, such as sending kids to daycares that may or may not be able to actually keep kids safe, to hiring other people to come into our homes – again, during a pandemic – are not really choices. It’s a reflection of how we all have come to accept that we don’t own our lives – our empoyers do. And yes, that’s the reality, but instead of challenging that reality, we choose to throw the responsibilty on the individuals being put in impossible situations and not on the system that places profits over people. That system is banking on us turning on each other.

      1. Jungle Juice*

        Lana, I agree with your comment, we don’t really have autonomy over our own lives anymore. The US has a toxic work culture, hence why this website has a large platform. How it became so toxic, that’s another story, but even before this pandemic we were faced with these same, awful and impossible choices. I just put my three month old baby in daycare and it feels awful. I think about him all day to the point that it becomes distracting, but I also need my job to put a roof over his head and give him what he needs. Not only that, but to put food on my own plate. I wish I could stay home with him for the next year, but financially our family can’t afford that. This isn’t the way, with or without a pandemic. Yes, I could have chosen not to have children, but I wanted a family. Any time these types of questions are posed, they are always met with the following:
        1. Don’t have children
        2. Just quit your job
        3. Quit being a burden to your coworkers and put them in daycare or hire help (option we chose and it’s painful)
        There are no REAL solutions here and that’s what sucks. No one wins or feels better no matter the solution here. The reality of this is that our reality feels like a limbo where we never really get ahead and we are merely just existing and surviving. It has always been profits over people even before this pandemic. Work culture needs to change.

      2. Avasarala*

        Totally agree. It’s one of the many many many ways the system is designed against us and we pull each other down like crabs in a bucket. It’s like different districts trying to kill each other in the Hunger Games, instead of saying, “Hey, maybe we could design a system where there’s enough food to go around.” But it’s better for the capitol to have the poor districts fight each other for scraps, saying “I got mine,” and scolding each other for not being morally pure enough to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

        There is no ethically pure choice here. It’s really disheartening to see people be so unkind to a LW who is clearly doing her best and at her wits end in a difficult situation. And it’s especially frustrating to see women put down mothers for “not managing their time well.” We will never close the wage gap and achieve true professional equality for women as long as we shackle mothers and criticize their choices when there are no good options–and we don’t even try to improve those options!

        1. Jungle Juice*

          It truly does feel like the hunger games. the 99% don’ have very many choices in difficult situations, we make do with what we have whether we like it or not.

          Women are criticized for wanting to have families and careers, but they are also shamed if they decide children aren’t for them, too. We can’t ever really win. This pandemic has only highlighted and compacted the issues we have already been dealt, i.e. limited resources and a dying middle class.

    7. AVP*

      to be fair to the OP, *everyone* in the US is being asked to sacrifice right now, in big ways and small. We’re all kind of screwed in a lot of different ways and you don’t get to just sit some out.

  33. Argus*

    I also want to add that I read a NYT article about a couple in which the wife/mom was a psychotherapist and she STILL had to bear the brunt of the childcare work, contorting her client schedule in crazy ways in order to do so. So this is not a psychotherapist issue. It’s a selfish husband issue.

    1. littledoctor*

      There’s a difference between a private practice therapist, and a medical resident–a doctor–working for a hospital. One has far more autonomy around scheduling than the other does.

  34. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Are you attempting to work your normal 9-5 and then also at night and on weekends? You need to adjust your hours. Be available for urgent matters during the regular business day, but for the most part work at night and on weekends. No it’s not ideal, but it’s also not fair that those on your team that are dependent on you for some things are not getting their needs met at all. And maybe you’re not working your normal 40 hours, but you can’t put in 10 and expect it to be okay. This is a tough situation for everyone, but you need to be flexible with your schedule – the flexibility can’t only fall to your team. Even if they don’t have small children, they may have their own stressors. And most importantly, your husband needs to be flexible as well. Just because he needs to work uninterrupted doesn’t mean he can’t shift his hours too.

  35. Pretend Scientist*

    I don’t know, if I was your boss or coworker and you were constantly pushing back on deadlines, I would be frustrated. If you are being paid full-time, then yes, you should be making an effort to get a big chunk of work done during the evenings and weekends. Your husband should also be adjusting his schedule.

    Things are definitely stressful and virtually everyone is having a tough time coping in myriad ways, but I would be cautious of coming across as throwing up your hands during the (pre-COVID) typical workday and then still preserving a big portion of your evenings and weekends for relaxation and family time—especially if most of your colleagues are doing full-time (or nearly, I would guess) work for full-time pay.

  36. ElizabethJane*

    I’m in a similar boat. I have a 3 year old and my husband and I are home full time. We don’t work when we are trying to care for the toddler. We did establish very early on that we would be taking shifts so neither of us has 100% of the burden. But if I’m with my daughter from 8-10 then I don’t even try to work. I might keep my phone on me to answer a quick call but that’s it. Then my husband does 10-noon (obviously the times switch based on what we have scheduled for the day but you get the point).

    During nap/quiet time we both power through as much work as possible, then we do shifts in the afternoon, and then both of us take a break for dinner. After bedtime, which is 7 for my daughter, we each get in another hour or two of work and call it a day. Realistically we’re probably working for 6 hours a day but that’s honestly about what we’d get productivity wise in the office anyway so I don’t feel guilty about it.

  37. Calanthea*

    Whilst I don’t disagree with Alison’s point that your partner should share the work of childcare and maintaining a home, I don’t actually think that’s the answer here. It sounds from the letter as though the company *is* ok with you setting boundaries, and is quite supportive? So perhaps, for the sake of any employees who end up having caring responsibilities and no partner to share them with, it’s a good thing for you to show how this works. There will be so many parents in your position. If you’ve got a good reputation at work and know that you can afford to use some capital on this then think of what you’re doing as for the greater good of working parents, rather than to the detriment of your company, might be a helpful mindset shift.
    I personally would really love for our management to do a proper review of how this all works, how we’re resourced and what we’re expected to do in what time. I know several parents who are in a similar position to the LW, answering emails at night, constantly apologising for being slow with things and honestly I don’t think it’s fair that our managers haven’t stepped in to formally reset expectations and reshuffled stuff. Literally just a “until the schools go back, we expect everyone to work 3.5 hours instead of 7.5 hours a day, if you can’t manage this let’s discuss annual leave/cover, if you can manage more than this please let us know.”

  38. Dumpster Fire*

    It seems to me that if your employer is flexible enough to allow you to work in the evenings and on weekends, that you should be flexible enough to do some of that. It doesn’t sound like you are willing to consider it, but it also sounds like you also want your full-time pay without coming close to working full-time hours or having full-time productivity. I’m trying to be sympathetic to your plight – it sucks, I get it – but in the meantime your workload is either not getting done or landing on your co-workers who also have their own work to do and lives to balance.

    Doesn’t your son nap for an hour or two during the day? Is it taboo these days to use a playpen? It seems like you should be able to get at least a few hours during the day to get some work done, and either work nights/weekends to make up the difference or go to part time.

    Tbh, if your husband is done with his appointments at 5 and your son goes to bed at 6, you have a lot more than “a few moments to relax”. As someone whose salaried job takes the full day and often well into the evening, I can only WISH I had that much time to relax.

    And, as has been mentioned by several people already – your husband needs to step up. If women want to work full time, and men want to NOT be the only earners in a family, then women need to open their mouths and insist that men take on their fair share of the workload at home (and NOT treat it as though they’re doing the women a favor by cleaning, cooking, doing laundry etc.)

  39. Bopper*

    I agree with many posters…forget 9-5. have your husband re-evaluate his hours and put some on nights and weekends. People will appreciate that. See where you can move your hours around…
    I used to live in Germany but still for an American company (at my request, my husband got a rotational job in Germany) and I would work 2-10pm.
    Maybe get up early and do some work. THen be with your toddler, and work during naps and in the evening and have your husband take some of the times.

  40. MsMaryMary*

    Assuming you are salaried, I think it’s totally appropriate to ask your coworkers for help too. I do not have kids and I am well aware I have more time and flexibility than my coworkers who have young children. I would be happy to pick up some work they cannot handle right now (I have offered). We’re all part of a team. It’s like picking up the slack if a coworker is sick or going through something in their personal life where they can’t dedicate 100% to work. These are strange times and we can’t pretend everything is business as usual.

    1. Cara*

      I’d my coworker asked me to “pick up their slack” because they were stressed during these current circumstances, my response would probably be to go straight to my manager. The audacity, to assume your problems are more important than other people’s.

      1. MsMaryMary*

        I’m not mandating that you help your coworkers. If you don’t have the bandwidth that’s perfectly fine. And ideally the manager would already be looped in and could help adjust workloads.

        I do not think it’s audacious to ask for help now or at any other time.

    2. V*

      I would actually be very upset that I had to consistently take over some of my coworker’s “slack”because we are almost 4 months into this and if you haven’t sorted how to make your work/life balance it is not my job to take over more of your work, while I have my own and my own life balance.

    3. Frankie Bergstein*

      I flex around my colleagues’ kids regularly and have taken on additional job duties for parenting in the past (I’m referring to the before times, not now). Folks are good about letting me take sick leave and vacation unfettered by work. Maybe I’ll have kids and need folks to pitch in for me. I try to tell myself that this is just an exchange that’s happening and it’s okay even if it means I’m giving a lot on some days.

      I do draw boundaries though – I don’t want to meet folks at 8pm now, and I think that’s okay. We’ve found workable solutions.

  41. Rich*

    Completely agree that your husband is the first route to change. “Can’t have a toddler on the room or be distracted while doing that” absolutely describes your husband’s work accurately.

    It describes your work accurately, too.

    If it didn’t, you’d be at your normal productivity. You’re not, because toddlers are disruptive to anyone.

    And you’re not doing anything wrong, but you’re prioritizing disruption of your work by family responsibilities over disruption of your husband’s work for family responsibilities. Is there a reason it all falls on you? Is it a good one?

    It’s possible that’s the right decision, but your letter doesn’t give the impression it was decided mindfully. It needs to be a mindful decision.

  42. Hedgehog*

    I feel you! I don’t have alternative solutions that haven’t already been suggested, but totally validate what you’re going through. I have a 5yo and that’s hard enough. It’s virtually impossible to get work done while caring for him and he has a pretty limited attention span for self-entertainment– I know it would be even harder with a toddler.

    One of the things that worked for me (besides yes, getting your partner to shift their hours and generally step up more) is to break the day into chunks of time. As an example: maybe you can get on your computer from 7-9 while partner gets kiddo ready for the day, you play with kiddo from 9-12, family lunch break from 12-1, kiddo naps while you work from 1-3, play with kiddo from 3-5, partner takes care of kiddo and you work from 5-7. I know it’s not a perfect solution by any means, but it’s been helpful for me to get chunks of time to work rather than a few minutes here and there while trying to multitask. Good luck, I feel for you! It’s a really hard time right now.

  43. Bostonian*

    I have a relative who used to be a therapist, so I’m sympathetic to the fact that it *seems* like your husband can’t budge: he’s built up this client base that determines his income, and trying to shift or eliminate a couple hours a day could potentially mean losing several clients. Meanwhile, OP is still collecting full salary regardless of how many hours actually worked. (Also, it can be really hard to lose clients if it feels like you’re really helping them.) I get it.

    But I think he has to try. OP’s career can’t be the only one that suffers. There must be clients (existing or new) that would actually prefer sessions at 8am or 5pm instead. He could shift to working something more like 8-11 and 2-6 (or however the math works out) so that you have more uninterrupted working time during the day. (And the times can shift daily, too, depending on his schedule.)

    I also want to emphasize that nobody expects you to work every waking moment to make up for the work you missed during the day caring for your kid! You’re 100% allowed to have free time and 8 hours of sleep. Your coworker’s comment was totally off base. But there does have to be some flexibility somewhere, which it sounds like you’re doing when you say you work some nights and weekends.

  44. KWu*

    “when I assure my manager and my coworkers that I am doing the best that I can, is that honest if I am still retaining a bit of free time?”

    Yes. You don’t need to spent 100% of your awake time (or try to get more awake time by sleeping less) on either childcare or work to have it be the best you can do.

    I agree with TiredMama above. If you’re caring for a toddler, trying to do paid work at the same time is too much. I’ve found it a little easier to try to get household chores done while on childcare duty as compared to paid work, especially ones that can be picked up and put down easily or can be broken into smaller steps (I’ve gotten really good at sizing up a recipe to figure out how I can split prep/initial cooking/final cooking into multiple days of 20 min of work at a time, if that’s what’s needed).

    Another thing that you might’ve already considered is I assume with a 6pm bedtime that your toddler isn’t napping anymore. It *might* be worth considering shifting the toddler’s sleep schedule to get an afternoon quiet time block back in there, during which you’d be able to work.

  45. EBStarr*

    I don’t think there’s anything unethical about what you’re doing–accepting full-time pay for part-time work during a pandemic. You’re not lying to the company about your availability, and they have chosen to keep paying you (which I think they absolutely should as long as they can afford it).

    Anyway, I think you have a sort of false choice in your mind– you think that you could go back to getting in 40+ hours a week if you sacrificed your health to work all evenings and weekends after being a full-time caretaker all day during the week. But that’s much more likely to result in you ruining your mental or physical health without increasing your productivity to pre-pandemic levels, since you’d be too burned out to be truly productive during those 40 hours of evening/weekend work anyway–so I think you should stop beating yourself up based on the idea that if you gave up all pleasure in life and drove yourself beyond your own tolerance, you would magically be productive like you were before. You *are* doing your best! Taking care of yourself enough so that you can continue to work without breaking down is part of that. (That sounds horribly capitalistic though–FWIW, I also believe that even if you *could* be a great employee while your mental health suffered, you still have the right to basic self-care.)

    As for suggestions–I agree with the ones above: get your husband to make some sacrifices on his end rather than you making all of them; see if you can work a shifted schedule that overlaps less with your husband’s; and see if you are eligible for leave. Good luck!

  46. Naomi*

    I don’t think working some extra night and weekend hours has to be all or nothing. If doing a little more in the evenings and weekends will make you feel better about your contribution to your job, that could be good for your mental health overall. But don’t give up all your free time–that’s just going to burn you out, which doesn’t benefit you, your family, OR your employer.

  47. Frenchie*

    My sister and husband had three kids (they are now adults). When the kids were little, she and her husband worked opposite schedules to avoid using daycare. Can you do this? Not sure if your type of jobs would allow for it, but it would be one solution.
    Then, when it is your childcare duty shift, you can focus on spending time with your toddler and hopefully enjoying them. It’s a cliche because it’s mostly true, they grow up too fast.
    Also, as a former preschool teacher, I suggest researching solo-play activities for your child. With proper supervision, of course. This would at least free up the adults to hear their own thoughts for a little while.
    May the force be with you!

  48. scribblingTiresias*

    Speaking as someone who sees a psychiatrist- I would be over the moon if I could see mine after, like, 6 PM. I have $HEALTH_ISSUES that keep me up super late and can’t get to any appointment before noon.

    Your husband absolutely can, and should, shuffle around his hours to help you.

    You’re not a bad person — and not selfish– to want free time. Even if we’re just looking at it from the perspective of “doing the right thing by your employer” – you’re gonna burn out under these circumstances. This isn’t sustainable.

  49. Cafe au Lait*

    I belong to a large online parenting community through a niche hobby site.

    The couples that have a similar set up to yours, OP, where one parent has face-to-face requirement for the job even at home, and the other does not, Parent #1 takes a couple of hours during the day to tackle lunch duty and some afternoon solo parenting. They also try to shorten their work time by an hour every day to help relieve the burden.

    Parent #2 uses a combo of screen time, working around the kid (so hard. I have a 2-year-old so I GET IT) and their dedicated solo time to get their work done.

    For work time my Manager told us to evaluate how many hours we spend working on projects, and how much time we spend answering questions from coworkers, or unjamming photocopiers, or walking around tidying the library spaces. Subtract the questions/unjamming/tidying time from eight hours and that’s the target time we should be spending working on projects at home. I recognize that my job and my manager are unusual to state this so blatantly. When you push back on your manager’s request it might be useful to frame it in a similar context. “Manager, you’re giving me eight hours of concentration heavy/ time intensive tasks. In the office I could reasonable expect to be interrupted and asked to work on _____ for X% of my time. Is there any way we can recalibrate the expectations so that I am spending Y time working daily?”

    1. blink14*

      This is a really interesting take, I like it. When I first started working remotely full time, I had only done remote work a day or two in a row, with the exception of ramping back up to full time after a surgery. Something I realized early on is that I felt pressure to totally fill my work day, when in reality everyday at the office there were blocks of time where I was taking a bathroom break, talking to a co-worker, handling a call that now is coming by email and takes less time, etc. So I started working in time increments around little chores or small breaks, and it’s much better for me. I’m still getting all of my work done, but I don’t feel like I have to sit in front of my computer every second of every workday.

    2. businessfish*

      screentime for ever. Sorry APA! sometimes you’ve gotta do what you have to do

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        My first instinct as well, but some kids get bored with it, especially at 1 year.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I find it more of a tactic than a strategy. We don’t start screen time until after 3pm, lest our child gets bored with and starts ignoring it.

        2. blackcat*

          It somehow took me 3 months of the pandemic to realize if I want to park my kid in front of a TV, all I need is a nature documentary. He has a 5 minute attention span for cartoons or kids TV, but will sit rapt for like an hour if he can watch animals.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            awwww that’s super cute.

            Interestingly, that also works for some older kids – my tween’s ‘summer school’ work is PBS Nature-heavy. I even got sucked in on one, had to know if the leopard kittens survived (spoiler – they did at least to the end of the show)

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I really like your username, and it makes me miss coffee.

  50. Amtelope*

    I agree with everyone else in this thread that your husband needs to take on some of the burden of shifting his schedule/cutting back appointments/somehow tackling some daytime child care. In terms of shifting your schedule, consider whether shifting it earlier would work better than shifting it later — can you agree that morning child care is your husband’s responsibility and get 6 AM – 9 AM as uninterrupted work time? Better yet, could he shift his schedule to 11 – 7 (still very reasonable daytime/early evening hours for appointments) and let you work from 6 AM – 11 AM? That’s a big enough chunk of time to get most of your work done, and then you could fit the rest in as you care for your toddler. And that would leave both of you free after 7 PM.

  51. Working Mommy*

    I’m in the same situation, so I sympathize. My husband works an inflexible 8-5 job and we have two kids under six, so I’m spending a lot of my day taking care of them so he can work. I make up for it by fitting my work in during times when he’s available. I get up early and work for an hour or two, get work done during nap times and other down time during the day, work for a few hours in the evening, and make up any remaining work as needed during the weekend. I’m answering Slack and email any time I’m taking care of kids during work hours but not actively completing tasks. It’s not fun and I really miss having more free time with my husband, but it’s what needs to happen right now so both our jobs get done. It sounds like you’re looking for permission to continue pushing your work onto your co workers so you don’t have to sacrifice your free time, and that’s really unfair to them. If keeping your current salary is more important, than you’ll have to sacrifice some of that free time to get your job done. If your free time is more important, then you need to work with your employer to either take time off or go to part time.

  52. slothinaspeedboat*

    OP, I can feel your frustration and I am so sorry you’re dealing with this situation, which I’m sure feels impossible. I believe you have three viable options:
    1. Take FFCRA leave if you qualify. It will be 2/3 your pay, but you are saving significant money on day care.
    2. Work on schedule compromising with your husband. Obviously he cannot help with child care while working, but could he switch his hours as others have said? I have a friend who is a therapist with a 3 year old. Since her husband works a 9-5 she has moved almost all her client appointments to evenings and weekends. Since she works independently, she was able to do this. If your husband is part of a medical practice, this could be more challenging.
    3. Hire someone to help. Obviously not ideal with the pandemic, but there are a lot of undergrad education majors without summer jobs and others in the childcare field that are under or unemployed right now. I have another friend who has done this since she and her husband have a 2 yr old and very busy client facing jobs. They found someone who is taking social distancing very seriously and they basically opened up their quarantine bubble to her.

    I hope you find something that works for you. Kudos on maintaining some semblance of self-care, keep that up!

  53. Jellissimo*

    The initial urgency of this COVID situation has passed and at this point most people have developed some strategies for handling the additional inconveniences we will be living with for the foreseeable future. I know I’m going to have a very unpopular opinion here, but I’m going to voice it: I believe you have unfair expectations of your employer and co-workers. You are willing to inconvenience them and have expectations (and even voiced what I consider to be resentments) because they are not as accommodating of your childcare situation as you would like, but you put no responsibility on your husband and you are unhappy with the idea of compromising your own “down time” to be fair to your employer. Your husband is in this marriage, he’s he one who vowed to partner with you, he’s he one who made this child with you. Your employer is not your partner, and your co-workers owe you nothing. I have had to work with my boss to make adjustments to my work schedule to fit my changed personal responsibilities since I started work from home, but none of the discussed solutions included “You continue to pay me my full salary while I do half the work.” I think you need to sit down with your husband and discuss how to resolve this situation within your own home. Perhaps he needs to adjust his schedule to step up, perhaps you need to find a child care share situation with a neighbor, perhaps you need to reduce your hours to part time, perhaps you need to adjust your full time hours to evenings and weekends, as much as you don’t want to give up that time. I don’t think you should be putting this problem to your employer for additional consideration. I have been told I will be working from home until at least the end of the year. How long do you think is reasonable to ask your co-workers to effectively be your child care for you?

    1. Kate*

      Let’s be clear that the “initial urgency” has not passed. We are having more COVID cases than AT ANY OTHER POINT IN THE OUTBREAK.

      1. Anon Anon*

        I agree to a degree. But, I think the initial shock has worn off for a lot of people, and because so much of the country is getting back to normal (despite the rising case numbers) that employers are getting less flexible.

      2. Mazzy*

        Depends where you are. In the Northeast, it’s petered out to very low numbers and almost no deaths. I don’t think people in PA need to base their life decisions on what is happening in Texas.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, we’re at like 10% of where we were at the peak, maybe less.
          But as someone in higher ed, I am super worried about bringing students from TX, FL, AZ, etc back to our communities in September. I feel better utilizing daycare now than I will in two months.

        2. Amy Sly*

          As an example, 42% of all Covid deaths come from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, even though those states are only 10% of the US population. The danger is very location specific.

          Yes cases are dramatically up, but so is testing. Moreover, the death rate and the number of people hospitalized for complications has decreased for the last two and a half months, according to CDC data.

      3. Jellissimo*

        Yes, I don’t mean the pandemic has settled down, just that the initial “all hands on deck” has faded. We have all had the opportunity to develop some coping strategies, figured out how to overcome some obstacles. That is all I meant. I apologize if I was unclear.

    2. anon today*

      The initial urgency? Seriously? We are just getting started. I’m in Texas and it’s not good.

      1. Joielle*

        The problem isn’t subsiding, but I think the panic is. We can’t just keep going “Ahh! I’m working at home and I don’t like it! Daycare is closed! I don’t know what to do!” Most people are at the point of putting routines in place since this is going to go on for some time.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Argh!

        Alison, it was this comment that made me realize I’ve been misspelling your name, and I owe you an apology!

    3. NW Mossy*

      “How long do you think is reasonable to ask your co-workers to effectively be your child care for you?”

      The real answer to this is “no idea – do you know when the pandemic will be over?”

      Part of the reality we’re dealing with is massive uncertainty. I can’t tell you if I’ll be back in the office on Labor Day 2020 or 2021, because every single plan that informs that decision is subject to being disrupted by COVID-19. What days will schools be open for in-person instruction? Will they have enough teachers? What if someone contracts the virus? What if, what if, what if….

      Believe me, I would love to know how this is all going to work out. I’d love be casually confident that all the infrastructure I need to keep my work and home life humming will be there with the same constancy as air or trees. I desperately want to be in that headspace right now. But reality keeps butting in to say “haha, no.”

      1. Jellissimo*

        But that is exactly my point. If you could say, “Look, it’s just going to be another 2 weeks, can you please help me through?” that would be reasonable. Because this is continuing for the foreseeable future, it is even more the OP’s responsibility to work something out with their partner, or negotiate alternate work hours with their employer, or reduce their hours to part time, whatever they need to do to make their situation work. The initial panic everyone pitches in to do what needs to be done. But consider the possibility that this isn’t resolving for years. It is reasonable to expect one’s co-workers to continue picking up the slack while the OP is figuring out how to negotiate their personal situation? Someone I know paid their housekeeper (who comes every other week) for two months without allowing them to come, so 2 months of pay without expecting any work (yes, I know, it’s only one of many clients, but the example still holds). With the third month, they explained to her that they would pay her for the third month and were happy to talk about options, ways in which everyone might be comfortable with her returning to work or, if nothing could be negotiated where everyone was comfortable with the arrangement, they understood but they could not continue paying her after that third month. It seems to me like that is where OP is: co-workers and employer happy to be all kinds of flexible and lower expectations in the short term, leaving the OP time to figure out a plan of action, but not doing the work and collecting full pay is not a sustainable solution. What if this continues for five years, is it reasonable that OP’s employer continues to pay full time pay for part time work?

  54. NW Mossy*

    Oh, how I feel you, OP! I also work in a division where parents of kids under 10 are the minority, and even then, many of them have someone else who can provide full-time childcare. As a result, the majority of people are able to work pretty much exactly as much as they used to within the same hours.

    I was commiserating just yesterday with a colleague who’s in a similar boat to me – my kids are 4 and 9, hers is 2. We both manage teams of a dozen people, so our work is meetings that can only take place during the working day when others are available. Expectations haven’t shifted because they don’t need to for most, so we’re just dragging in the wake and trying to not fail too hard.

    Part of what I’ve done to cope is have a heart-to-heart with my boss and be very clear about what I think I can do. I’ll maintain the critical stuff (1:1s, daily team check-ins) and 2-3 priority items we agree on, but I’m not taking on anything significant outside of that. There’s not enough wax in my candle for that, and I’d rather use what I have to make sure the priorities thrive than scatter my effort so wide that everything’s half-done.

    1. Lana Kane*

      I’m in an almost identical situation as you. I’ve been extra clear with my boss that I can only do so much. I keep giving hr updates on what schools in the area are planning to do so that she doesn’t forget to take that into account. I’m grateful that she understands and is working hard to manage expectations.

  55. Alex*

    I think that you do have some obligation to try to make up some work in the evenings. After all–your coworkers are probably having to devote some of their evenings and weekends to doing your work for you, so it’s not fair to ask them to do that if you are not willing to do the same.

  56. No good answer*

    I totally feel for your situation, but I also feel for your coworkers because ultimately the work has to get done. I am currently in the same boat as your coworkers – I don’t have children, so I have been trying to be helpful to my colleagues that do have childcare responsibilities by taking on some of their responsibilities. However, I’ve realized I can’t sustain that level of work and I don’t think it’s fair to expect this of your colleagues. I think you can expect some flexibility and understanding from your coworkers, but be careful about taking advantage. Just because they don’t have children doesn’t mean they don’t have other responsibilities/priorities in their lives.

    That being said, you DEFINITELY deserve free time of your own and it’s not dishonest to retain that time. Alison’s suggestion is the best place to start – you shouldn’t shoulder 100% of this burden. My coworkers with children are splitting their workdays with their partners – so one partner manages childcare in the morning while the other has focused work time, and then they switch places in the afternoon. You might not *technically* be working 40 hours per week, but if your work is getting done in a reasonable timeframe, then it shouldn’t be a problem with anyone you work with.

    I hope that you can work this out! I can totally empathize with being stressed and scared with all that’s happening in the world right now.

  57. Aquawoman*

    This is definitely a time for thinking outside the box, including shifting hours around –neither LW or their spouse needs to work M-F /9-5, it seems, so look at that –I undersatnd wanting one common day off but maybe LW could work on Saturday and have her days off be Sunday-Monday. Also, is there some reduction of hours for one or both of them that would help (if feasible in other ways). I think people may want to start thinking about having two families care-share if they are both socially distancing from others (sort of a babysitting swap).

  58. nonprofit writer*

    Regarding the ethical question, when you say you are collecting full-pay for part-time work, does that mean you are getting most of your work done but just not putting in the same hours? Or is a significant amount of your work falling on colleagues to do in addition to their own responsibilities? If the former, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. If the latter, I don’t know, maybe you should go to part time formally?

    That said, I really feel for you! Of course you are exhausted! Childcare is work, both physically and mentally. I am really struggling myself even though I am a part-time freelancer. My kids are older than yours (elementary school) but just having them around all the time means I have to devote a lot of mental energy to them. Even if they are watching TV I feel like they are going to burst in on me any moment asking for a snack. My husband is working full time from home and is in video meetings all day. It sucks. He’s the one with the full-time salary and benefits so obviously the majority of kid stuff falls on me, but this has been such a struggle for us–I need him to step up more not just so I can get my small amount of work done, but also so that I can have a break from what has become an all-day job of hanging out with kids. I think even if I were a full-time stay at home parent I would need this break. Most stay-at home parents of elementary school kids have a big mental break when the kids are in school, and this disruption is huge.

    I think there are a lot of gender issues at play right now… a lot of women feeling they have to “do it all,” and some men perhaps feeling increased pressure (internal or otherwise) to keep their stereotypical “provider” role during an uncertain economic climate.

    Good luck to you OP–this is so hard.

    1. Willis*

      I agree with this comment. If you’re getting most stuff done but it takes a day longer or you’re not as quick to respond to emails or something, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. There is some give that employers need to extend to everyone, whether it’s caring for kids or parents or whatever. (But I still like the comments about not trying to work while you’re also doing childcare…doing two things ineffectively is way more stressful than just focusing on them at separate times.)

      But if you’re getting like 20% of your work done and big pieces of it are landing on colleagues to finish…then I do think you need to look at shifting your schedule and working more on evenings and weekends. Of course it’s preferable to have family time and get 8 hrs of sleep, but if you doing those things is causing coworkers to regularly work evenings or weekends…I think you have to be a bit more willing to give on this, or look at reducing your hours overall.

    2. Koala dreams*

      I’m glad you have an agreement that works for you, but it’s nothing obvious about the childcare falling on the freelance parent, as opposed to the parent with full-time work and benefits. In fact, often it makes more sense to do the other way around, since the employed parent can use leave (FMLA for example) and keep their job, or negotiate a part time job for the next few months, while the freelance parent can’t afford to risk losing their business. Again, I understand that your situation is different, but it’s far from the “obvious” solution.

      1. nonprofit writer*

        Good point. I guess I meant to say that obviously in normal times I do most of the childcare (because normally he commutes a long distance & I mostly work only when kids are at school). So right now things are continuing in that mode. You’re right that technically my spouse could take FMLA—but for a variety of reasons I won’t detail here, that wouldn’t be the best option for him right now.

  59. Ms. Cellophane*

    Several people in my office with little kids and no day care have hired part time in-home care providers so they can get some work done. It saved their jobs, marriages and sanity.

  60. Laura H.*

    A lot of these comments are under the assumption that Husband is a solo/ head practitioner who isn’t under some sort of manager himself and that’s very much coloring all the “he should shift his schedule” stuff. That really rubs me the wrong way.

    If he’s solo/ head practitioner, he may or may not have leeway to shift his schedule, but shifts of any nature (that need to stick and succeed like this one) take time to implement and there are likely moving parts that need accounting for that hamper an instant shift.

    OP and her husband need to talk this out, and neither should demand the other to shift their schedule without a conversation. There shouldn’t be a relationship problem stemming from this.

    OP, you know your situation far better than any of us here. Talk with your husband. Brainstorm together. There is a way through this! Knowing and acknowledging to the other party that a change may not be instant or even feasible will go a long way.

    1. Amtelope*

      I mean, I get it that some people work jobs with managers who don’t want to change their hours (the OP’s husband is apparently a resident who may indeed have limited/no ability to advocate for schedule changes.) But the OP’s husband is also a parent with child care responsibilities whose job should ideally be providing some flexibility. This is a hard situation, we’re all trying to navigate it together, and I side-eye any employer who’s just saying “we can’t do anything to change or shorten or flex work hours for employees with caregiving responsibilities during this crisis.”

    2. Koala dreams*

      Yes, it’s possible that the husband need to quit his job in the end, if the employer doesn’t see reason. It’s sad that employers are unreasonable and short-sighted like that. I don’t know about the US, but in my country it’s a big problem in health care, especially in women dominated professions such as nurses. When employers push out the parents with inflexible policies, they eventually run out of potential employees.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, frankly, as a medical resident LW is lucky he’s only working 9-5. Just think if he was doing a surgical or GP residency where he could be scheduled for up to 28 hours on a shift and 80 hours a week.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          And would probably have to live separately from his wife and toddler because she’s pregnant and he’s so exposed, so therefore she’d be getting no help at ALL.

    3. A*

      I agree with you, so many comments about the husband. Not everyone has control of their schedule and can just shift hours when they want to. My spouse is working from home through at least the end of the year but still has to work the same hours as when in the office since many coworkers are overseas and they still need to have real time communication. Working from home is not an automatic license to make your own schedule.

  61. Chronic Overthinker*

    Oh LW, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. I definitely think a sit-down with your spouse is necessary. Parenting a child is just as much his responsibility as it is yours. Don’t take on that burden alone. One or both of you will need to change your schedules to accommodate the new normal. I also second the idea of a local babysitter if you have the funds that would normally be used for childcare.

  62. CanuckGal*

    First of all, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! So many parents, women especially, have been struggling for months and are finally at the end of their rope. It must be incredibly isolating not to have colleagues who are in the same situation as you, but take the small amount of solace that there are parents everywhere carrying this burden as well. We feel you!

    Many have commented about your husband, and I won’t pile on too heavily but will say women tend to overextend themselves without considering that parenthood is equal effort. Who makes more and/or who has more immersive/client-facing work is moot. NO ONE, and I mean NOT A SINGLE HUMAN can effectively and productively work with a toddler at home. So it doesn’t matter if your husband can’t conduct sessions and care for a child. YOU can’t do your work either so why not split the work down the middle and work together? I have been lucky with childcare, but my husband and I initially discussed splitting our workdays up – one person would work 6am-12noon, while the other works 12noon-6pm, which we felt would allow for a break in the evenings. Could this be a possibility? Or could you start your day earlier before your husband starts at 9am and he can handle the toddler in the A.M.?

    Beyond that, I think you’re likely hitting a point where you need to have an open and honest discussion with your manager. Are they comfortable continuing to let you work where you can? Is this more guilt that you are feeling? Or are they feeling as though there is undue impact to the business? I know many parents have asked to work reduced hours for less salary, e.g. 32 hours/week for a 20% cut. This has alleviated this pressure/expectation that they owe a full week that they simply can’t meet. It also gives them more firm standing to say “no” to additional deliverables.

    Lastly, I’m not clear how hard of a line you are drawing about not working evenings/weekends. I wholeheartedly agree that working every evening/weekend to make up for lost time is absolutely unsustainable and will only lead to burnout…but you may need to reconsider adding in some flexibility here if you are strictly online 9-5pm. One evening a week, or an extra hour every day may be required. It sucks, but if you are only truly able to do part-time right now…then I would say yes it makes sense to try to make that up to SOME extent somewhere.

    Best of luck…it’s rough for so many right now.

  63. Mimi Me*

    I haven’t read all the comments yet, so don’t know if this has been suggested but is there anyone you could ask outside of your home (but who you trust and who has been social distancing) to help out for even a few hours a week? A lot of people aren’t leaving the house these days and might welcome just the idea of sitting in your yard watching your toddler blow bubbles (or kick a ball, or play chase, etc) for a few hours as a change of pace? My own kids are teens and I’ve become very strict about them leaving the house so I know that this would be something they would jump at. Might be worth asking around?

    1. Coalea*

      Any family members (or very close friends) who you might trust to help out? My sister and her husband have 2 kids (ages 6 and 4) and both work full-time (remotely, at the moment). They’ve been sharing childcare duties, but for those times when they both have to be 100% “at work,” my parents and I have been stepping in to fill the gaps. I’m babysitting my niece all day tomorrow, even though that means I have to take a day off. Best of luck to you!

  64. Amy*

    I have 3 kids under 5. I think it’s worth setting a goal for yourself. You probably can’t work 8 hours a day but what about 6?

    I’d decide what you can reasonably do and then really work at it. We’ve gone back to full-time childcare in my house because the lack of it was simply not sustainable. But from March to mid June, I worked from 6-8am, then fit about 3 hours in during various nap times then 1-2 hours after kiddie bed. And when I worked, I tried to really really work – powering through. No distractions, no personal stuff, no texts etc.
    I also usually put in a few hours on the weekend.

    No it was not fun. But we need health insurance and two salaries. My company is flexible but not infinitely so.

    Also as a reference point as someone at a large company with many parents, very few people are still handling full-time childcare while working. Either kids are back at daycare, they’ve hired sitters, nannies, done a co-op, are trading childcare with another family or have officially reduced hours. I’m in a hard hit area but as we head into the 5th month, it has simply become necessary. My company now had the expectation of around 80% productivity, up from maybe 50% in May. Since they’ve so far avoided layoffs, I don’t find this unreasonable.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      I don’t even gave kids, but this advice sounds helpful to me. My productivity has taken a nosedive since WFH, and fir some reason the lightbulb just went on of “do a few 2-hour chunks a day” rather than “try to sit and focus and end up procrastinating and feeling guilty because 8 hours feels too daunting.” (I should mention none of this impacts my colleagues).

  65. Meg*

    I see a lot of comments about flexing your schedule so that you have chunks of time not working during the day to make up for working during the evening. With the HUGE caveat that I don’t have kids, one of my coworkers who has 2 toddlers was doing this–working I think like 6-8 am, and then 12-6 pm, and her husband was doing the opposite so they both had uninterrupted work time. She was still burning out on that, because while she had uninterrupted work time she also had no time truly to herself (also her boss was not being great about the off hours, but that’s a whole other thing lol).

    I don’t know what the answer is–this sucks for everyone–and I think flexing hours can help, but I don’t think there’s a magical solution to solve it….

    1. Somniloquist*

      I have a great manager, and I was trying to shove things in at night, no time for myself and I burned out hard. It made me even less productive. I love my work and my team and wanted to do the best for them, but I really had to just take a step back so I could get back in.

      That’s why I’m a little leery of the “just work at night!” folks. It’s good advice in theory. Additionally, since the OP is pregnant, it may not be feasible. I had narcoleptic symptoms during pregnancy where I just conked out at a certain time of night and it was hard to wake up.

    2. Koala dreams*

      I think it’s a good point. It’s not sustainable having 8 hours sleep, 8 hours child care, 8 hours work and no breaks for eating, texting your friends or brushing your teeth. You need some time for taking care of yourself too, even if it’s just a little.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, but it could probably be 8 hours sleep, 6 hours work, 6 hours childcare, 4 hours for other stuff, if the OP and husband both back off on work a little. Then put in a few hours on a weekend. I don’t think anyone’s saying the OP has to work 40 hours a week with no exceptions, but cutting down your work hours significantly and just letting other people pick up the slack is going to be a problem.

      2. Amy*

        I have twin one year olds. Most kids under 2 will be napping at least 2 hours from 9-5. Sometimes more.

        You can usually also find 30 minute chunks if you look for them. Most people do find ways to get things done with toddlers, even if that work is taking the form of dishes, laundry, cooking etc. It’s a heck of a lot of work and toddlers need a lot of supervision but 8 straight hours of exclusive childcare isn’t usually how it rolls either.

  66. About to pop*

    I am not here to weigh in on OP’s case specifically, but it really resonated with me. I’m due with my first in a few weeks, and I feel like while folks were incredibly understanding in the early days, that has dried up a bit. It’s not that I don’t want to fully commit to my job after maternity leave, but the reality is that our childcare plans fell through (my mother-in-law was supposed to live with us for 6 months but can’t come here because she lives in another country), and we can’t get off a daycare waitlist because they’re reducing class sizes. I’m nervous that when I need accommodations, everyone will be over it. My workplace is going to reopen around Labor Day, and each person will go to work on their assigned day once a week. I don’t have family nearby, so if I went to stay with my parents, for example, to ensure I could work full time while my mom helps out, I’d need to take leave on my assigned day, which just feels ridiculous. Again, I have nothing to contribute, it’s just that as someone about to deal with this for the first time, I’m honestly really scared about how it will play out.

    1. valentine*

      I’d need to take leave on my assigned day
      This makes perfect sense. Is there really any need for you to go into the office (fairness doesn’t count) and, if reasonable, can tasks shift to make up for you not doing so?

      1. About to pop*

        I can actually do all of my work fully remotely, and have been doing so since March, so no, I don’t have to go in. That’s what makes it hard — I need to stay in my location to be at work once a week (because they say so) and struggle the rest of the time, or be closer to family and put in better, productive work full time. Who knows — November is a very long time in pandemic world, so I’m just hoping things change.

  67. TeapotNinja*

    I work for a company that takes taking care of employees very seriously. As an example I have a co-worker with a newborn. His work schedule is 6am to 9am and 6pm to 11pm. Obviously that sort of schedule wouldn’t work, if your work involves a lot of collaboration, but maybe something similar that works around your family’s schedule might work for you?

  68. Manana*

    My understanding is that you are currently not getting any work done during the day (“I cannot work while taking care of my toddler”) and then only getting a portion of your work done in sporadic evening/weekend hours. So yes, you husband should adjust his schedule to accommodate some daytime hours for childcare so you can work some during “traditional” hours, and you should start scheduling yourself evening weekend hours to work as an alternative to the daytime hours you’ll be spending with your son.

  69. Stephivist*

    I’ve been making it work by working in 2-4 hour bursts (depending on the day, the kids, and other scheduled things). That plus a very set routine of child care and home chore duties – the husband does this, i do this, etc. – is working well. His job has limited flexibility, so we use what he does have in the way that benefits me the most.

    I won’t say it is enjoyable – my work day does feel like it goes on forever, but I’m not actually putting in more than the 8 hours a day. I’ve available for my staff and my kids without too much added stress on anyone. Most weeks I’m able to do it all M-F and save the weekend.

  70. Captain Stubing is my spirit animal*

    Reduce your hours. If insurance is through your work, see what the minimum is for coverage (36 hours?)
    Adjust your work schedule from M-F to T-S. Hubby can take childcare on Saturday.
    Or adjust your work day to 7-3 M-F. Have hubby block off his lunch hour at 12 so he has the baby then. Or do this but under reduced hours, work 7-1, with the lunch blocked off.

    Make hubby flex his schedule if possible. Maybe he can work T-S. Or 6am-2pm Tues & Thurs.

    You need to resolve this together.

  71. Koala dreams*

    Wow, your husband’s employer is really out there if they think it’s reasonable to schedule 8 hours of patient meetings for him when he has a one year old toddler to take care off! I’m glad you have a reasonable employer at least. Your husband needs to look into any leave he might get, including leave for part of the day (FMLA, the new FMLA, any other leave his employer might offer), as well as look for a new job that’s more parent friendly. A lot of health care places have schedules that include all hours of the day and night, which is harder in some ways but makes it easier for parents to puzzle and solve the childcare issues. If that’s not available, he might need to look for different kinds of work.

    For yourself, you can of course look into taking leave part of the day if you think it would help you feel less stressed. If there are any tasks that could be do by a temp, you might go down 10/20/30/40 % in time in exchange for those tasks off your plate. It will probably be easy for your employer to hire a temp for a few months considering the unemployment levels right now, or maybe some of your co-workers could take over those tasks. Many parents find it difficult for both parents to work full time even in normal times!

    Also, try to prepare as much for the next day the evening before with your husband. Snacks, lunch, children’s TV shows on TV, children’s songs on YouTube, anything that helps you get through the day. Good luck!

    1. Mediamaven*

      I’m curious to know if the husband has an employer or if it’s his own practice.

      1. Koala dreams*

        It didn’t even occur to me that he might have his own practice, honestly. If he did, that would make me very, very sad.

      2. Metadata minion*

        There’s an answer from the OP above — he’s a resident, so has very little control over his schedule.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Thanks, I didn’t see it before. I’m very glad it’s the employer that’s totally unrealistic about parenting as opposed to the husband, but also, I don’t see any possible future where the husband keeps working full time for that employer. It’s sad how many bad employers there are in health care.

          1. Emilia Bedelia*

            I mean, at no point ever has residency been known for being realistic, reasonable, or favorable to the employee. Unfortunately this is a much bigger problem than just the OP’s husband’s job and COVID.

            1. Amy Sly*

              Seriously. Residents can be scheduled for 24 hour shifts followed by 4 hours of paperwork and up to 80 hours a week. Just imagine how impossible that would be to work around!

          2. Michaela*

            The OP married a doctor, she knew the deal with his hours – they both knew getting into this and having a kid. It would be different if it was an unknown quantity that was suddenly sprung on them.
            I feel your comments are seriously impractical and don’t take into account the choices the OP decided to make.

  72. dddeee*

    I feel like there’s been a glut of questions recently from women who are struggling with working/childcare who have male partners who are also WFH but who don’t seem to be struggling the way they are/have the potential to be stepping up but aren’t, so their spouses/partners have to write into an advice blog. It’s really disheartening.

    1. dddeee*

      rather, their female spouses/partners * feel like * it’s a better/more reasonable/more fruitful? option for them to write into an advice blog instead of asking their male partners to step it up.

      1. Grapey*

        That’s because there seem to be few, if any, consequences for men not stepping up.

      1. dddeee*

        right? and I want to emphasize I think this generally falls on the shoulders of the dad/absent parent; I would never blame a mom/primary caretaker parent struggling with this issue.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Yes, it’s very sad. The injustices of society is getting magnified by the pandemic, not only the injustice when it comes to childcare but also other things.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Just want to point out that the current letter’s not a gender inequality issue. Per her comment, OP’s spouse is a medical resident, this is just how that position is. It is likely that OP’s spouse has female co-workers whose husbands are in the exact same position that OP’s in. They’re probably using solutions that compromise their safety.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Surely the situation for residents is a gender equality issue in itself, in addition to the question why it’s mostly women who write to advice columns about child care troubles. Of course the issues are systematic, and this letter is only a small piece of the puzzle.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          I actually checked, and medical students are fairly close to even, gender-wise, 53% men to 47% women in 2019; women have been higher in some recent years. There’s still a lot of problems with specialties being more men if I remember the stats right, but overall they’ve been close to even for a couple of decades now.

          There is a problem of overworking / over-scheduling residents and interns, but OP’s husband doesn’t even have that, they just have ‘not flexible.’

          There are absolutely structural gender problems in the US, but they don’t seem to be strong influences in *this* situation.

  73. JHB*

    I agree with much of the above.
    ** Stagger work hours
    ** Find a balance that includes a few evening/weekend hours
    ** Look for flexibility in your husband’s schedule so he helps more
    ** Hire a person from your neighborhood to come in for a few hours
    ** Do you have a close neighbor in same boat where you might switch off, one take both in the morning and the other in the afternoon?

    If you could, say, get the morning covered with a babysitter, have your husband cover an hour or two, and then likely your toddler still takes a good nap, that would free up some focused time.

    I am sorry you are having to deal with this frustrating situation.

  74. mskyle*

    My sister was in a similar situation (currently better now that numbers in our area are down and the kids’ grandparents can help out again) and she mostly dealt with it by getting up and starting work at 5AM. She’s an early bird by nature but it was still really hard!

    If your husband can’t set aside any time during the 9-5 time period, is there stuff he could do to free up time for you otherwise? Like can he take over breakfast, bathtime, bedtime so that you can work during those times? I know that doesn’t really give you guys any “family” time, which sucks.

  75. sequined histories*

    There are a lot of practical recommendations here, and I hope you and your husband can find a way for you to work more without sacrificing all your leisure time, or maybe reduce your work hours if that’s what you would prefer.

    That said, what you actually asked is if what you are doing is ethically problematic. I don’t think it is. You’re doing your best in an overwhelming situation. Even a machine breaks down eventually if you run it 24/7 without shutting it down for maintenance and repair. It’s not due to ethical shortcomings that you need 8 hours of a sleep a night. Without days off you will burn out and your health, family, and job performance will suffer.

    I may be wrong, but I’m guessing you’re living in the United States.

    I’m all for a strong work ethic, but the idea that what we are paid is, and should be, intrinsically tied to what we are worth or what we produce has gained so much of an ideological hold (at least in the United States) that, for many people, it has become like an article of religious faith that it is simply accepted as true without critical thought or reflection.

    Even in more normal times, The Invisible Hand of the Market is not magically distributing income to people in a completely fair way. Anyone with common sense can think of examples of people who seem to be paid more or less than what they are probably “worth” to various private businesses. Taking care of a small child is of great value to society, but we are committed to paying little or nothing for this labor, while paying outlandish sums for entertainment. Whether or not you can get a high-wage job depends as much or more on unearned advantages—often accumulated over the course of centuries—as it does on work ethic or decisions under our individual control. Some people benefit from vast inheritances, and others take criminal advantage of our financial system without ever being called to account.

    You’re not loading up your trunk with office supplies.
    You’re not embezzling money.
    You’re not pretending to be in the hospital while actually on vacation.
    You’re less productive than you used to be and you’re honest and upfront about your productivity and the reason you can’t do as much as you used to. If your company continues for awhile to pay you the same amount of money under these conditions, that’s their decision and your own personal ethics have nothing to do with it. They are paying you. You are not stealing from them.

    1. Mazzy*

      This is a good comment. Hopefully most companies recognize that people didn’t ask to be locked home for multiple months homeschooling kids, and recognize that productivity may suffer. Or someone may not have a workspace at home, or have shoddy internet, or not have access to a printer or some computer programs…

      1. sequined histories*

        Fraud involves deceit.

        To me, the letter makes it sound like she’s being pretty straightforward with everyone about the fact that she can’t meet deadlines, etcetera, because of her childcare responsibilities.

        Could she end up being fired for that? Sure. That’s her employer’s call to make: do I want to keep OP employed even though she can only do X% of what she used to do right now?

        But that doesn’t mean she’s doing something immoral or unethical by accepting her salary.

        I am surprised by the disdain some commenters seem to feel for this person. It does seem likely that her career may be derailed by this situation, but just because someone is struggling doesn’t mean they are guilty/at fault/behaving in an unethical way.

  76. blackcat*

    Depending on your risk tolerance, I’d recommend looking for a sitter.
    I was doing option B, working 6am-7:30am, 1-3pm (naptime), and then 8-10:30pm, 7 days a week. It… broke me. We found a sitter who was taking social distancing seriously, and we spent the same on her as we would as paying for daycare. That got us 4 hours a day (9am-1pm), and it was LIFE CHANGING. It took some doing, but we found a college student who was in training for a medical field who was at home with her mom (who was working from home and also committed to social distancing).
    Godspeed, OP. I have been where you are. My kid has been back in daycare for a week and I feel like I have my life back!

  77. Miss Muffet*

    If working evenings or weekends helps & is possible, you need to then block off the time during the day to NOT work. It sounds like you’re trying to juggle it all during the day and THEN work more in the evenings, which is why it’s exhausting. And set a schedule for the days you’ll be doing that.
    If you think you can swing it, you might look into a nanny, maybe someone you can trust to follow the distancing, etc, rules in their home life. You might even be able to get a younger teen to help for the rest of the summer – you’re home, and it’s a good way for them to gain babysitting experience. Even if it’s part time to help balance what you can’t shift. (and 1000% agreeing with everyone that your hubs needs to share in this burden too).

  78. UKLu*

    I am a single parent of 4. I’ve had to work from home since the end of March with no childcare and no other support. My manager has allowed me to work in the mornings and evenings in order to make my full hours. I’ve been on phone calls with members of the public when an argument has started in the background or in a video meeting when a small head pops up next to me. It’s just the way things are and I’m thankful for the flexibility. Working in the evening is the quietest part of my day and the main time I feel like an adult and not just Mum!

    It’s a bit grating to see parents who are part of a couple with just the 1 child complain about losing their ‘down time’, so to speak. This situation won’t be forever and we just have to get on with things the best we can. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

    1. UKLu*

      And also, I agree with an earlier comment, why is it almost always up to the woman in the relationship to sort this out and shoulder the entire ‘burden’, for want of a better word? 2 parents should take equal responsibility, surely?

      1. Mazzy*

        That’s usually the agreement they work out in divorce court. I don’t think anyone was thinking about “what if a covid lockdown happens” when they were coming up with their custody agreement.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Depends on the agreement that the couple has. For this OP, it seems like the agreement has been “spouse’s medical training and career is the primary focus, and we will work everything else around that”. From my understanding of med school, that’s the requirement it takes to get through. If OP signed up for that, it would be foolish to change it at this late stage.

        My husband and I are 40 / 60 mom/dad on child care, because I have the regular 9 – 5 and he’s more flexible. The first two years it was 30 / 70 mom / dad. But we talked it over and agreed that split made sense. However, that split is part of why we only have one child, neither one of us was willing to have Mr. Jules put his work on hold for another two years, and we couldn’t afford to put mine on hold.

        In the end, a family has to find the balance that works for them, and everyone else should limit their input into making sure that families have a wide range of options available to them. Universal pre-K and parental leave are great ways for society to support families.

    2. notpopular*

      Agreed.

      To put it another way OP is basically saying to co workers “You work harder so I can have my downtime and go for walks.’

      It’s nonsense. No one minds helping someone in a total jam but this is not a total jam at all, this is someone wanting to protect a certain kind of lifestyle at others expense.

      1. Mel*

        I had the same reaction. I empathize with the letter writer but can’t help but be conscious that there’s a tremendous amount of privilege here. Single parents, those doing shift work, those in healthcare and other fields that cannot work from home are also making sacrifices right now, including working opposite shifts from their partners to deal with child care closures. Please. At least she can be flexible and wfh those nights and weekends.

      2. Jennifer*

        Needing downtime so you don’t go insane isn’t “protecting a certain lifestyle.” It’s maintaining sanity.

        1. valentine*

          It’s maintaining sanity.
          Yes, and no one should have to sacrifice health/life/family to work.

        1. Kira*

          She doesn’t get to do that at the expense of her colleagues. Someone is doing the work, and it’s not her. Even though she’s getting paid to do it.

          Out there are people who are getting paid no more than they were and having OP’s workload added to theirs so she can have her weekends protected and do very little work. It’s unfair, unreasonable and unsustainable. And yes, as OP asked, it’s unethical. But she knows that already.

          1. Jennifer*

            It’s a situation that will never be 100% fair. People need to accept that most of the time life isn’t fair. Sometimes one person is going to give more. When all this craziness is over and her kid is back in daycare, maybe one of her childfree coworkers will have a crisis and will need her to pitch in more. That’s just how it goes sometimes. If that’s unethical, then millions of working parents right now who aren’t able to work full-time hours while receiving full-time pay are unethical. Now is the time for compassion, not being a hall monitor.

          2. justabot*

            It is unethical and not right. Why should her colleagues take the brunt of doing extra work so that she can go have a work/life balance? When the reality is the colleagues are likely working harder than ever to pick up the slack. And she’s getting paid her full salary? Sorry, that is not a sustainable long term situation. It’s one thing in an emergency or I suppose for a few weeks, but not several months of this. Not cool.

    3. Jennifer*

      I’m sorry that you’re in the situation you’re in, but I do think this is unnecessarily harsh. Some people simply need more downtime than others in order to function. It sounds like this OP is extremely stressed out and needs these moments in the evenings and weekends to maintain her sanity. I’m one of those people. I don’t even have kids and I feel at the end of my rope some days. I don’t know what I’d do if I had a toddler running around on top of everything. Just because you are able to somehow handle all of these stressors doesn’t mean everyone else can or should.

      Just suck it up isn’t very helpful advice. If she could do that she would have.

      1. Grapey*

        As you said in a different comment, “life isn’t always fair”. Isn’t that another way to say “just suck it up”?

  79. Sled dog mama*

    OP this is not a work problem. You are both parents and you both need to share responsibility for the child.
    My husband has been a full time stay at home dad for 6 years and I would never assume that all the child care falls on him even on the rare days I can work from home.

  80. Jenny*

    I’m a mom of a toddler and I get that it sucks, but I think you do need to work at least some nights and weekends. My employer is being absolutely terrific with us but yeah, I can see all the parents on after 8PM on our chat group. I know, it’s tiring, but if you’re getting paid to do the job, you need to devote the time.

    But also, stickers. I sit at my desk and hand my son stickers sometimes. Yes, my desk is now covered in partially ripped stickers, but it keeps him occupied and I can get work done.

  81. Adereterial*

    At a minimum, can you not stagger your lunch breaks with your husband so you get at least a clear 30/60 minutes whilst he’s on lunch and you are not?

  82. Jenny*

    I want to add – if your toddler isn’t nap sleep trained, I would highly recommend it. The regular nap from 12:30-2:30 helps so, so much

  83. Not for academics*

    OP, I only see one question in your letter:

    But when I assure my manager and my coworkers that I am doing the best that I can, is that honest if I am still retaining a bit of free time?

    So, the answer to this is YES. You’re doing the best that you can.

    As to all the rest, it looks like you’re asking permission to give your husband a swift kick in his baby-maker. To which, YES. It’s HIS child (too). WTF.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      It all depends on if you’re productivity is hitting zero.

      If it is, then the free time has to go. You have to get the minimum done to keep your job going.

      But if you’re still getting enough work done to stay afloat, and the free time is what’s keeping what remains of your sanity intact, you’re not going to get any more done by burning out and becoming nonfunctional.

      I can’t offer any solution on the spousal front; I’ve taken care of our two-and-a-half year old while working from the day he was born. My work is rarely client-facing, and my spouse’s is, so I still watch him sunup through sundown even when my spouse now works from home, even through interviews. I don’t think the fair game serves anyone; sometimes those who can must and those who cannot cannot.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Haha… I have to laugh at myself. I hope you’re doing better than I am with homophones today!

  84. Buttons*

    You need to split the workday with your husband and a one year old is hopefully still napping. You have to get your work done or go half time or something.
    My company is incredibly flexible, if someone can’t work 8-5 or whatever hours they normally work, we don’t care, but they do still have to get the same amount of work done. It isn’t fair to your employer or coworkers. It isn’t fair to you that your husband isn’t sacrificing some of his work so you can retain your good work standing.

  85. FirstDayBackHurts*

    I am in this same situation. We have a one-year-old at home and two of us working full-time. My job is somewhat flexible for when I get work done and husband’s job is very inflexible, so we cannot just divide up the day between us, but we have found some work arounds. I work best in the morning, so I get up at 5 and take my computer to the patio. I get in a good four hours of work before my husband has to log in. He handles feeding our daughter and taking her on a morning walk, which is lovely bonding time for him. I make up for the early alarm by napping when the baby naps in the morning. In addition, we started a “COVID daycare exchange” with one other couple in the same situation. I take two kids two afternoons a week and my office knows I am 100% unavailable during that 3-hour block. The other couple takes both kids two other days, so I can work. It is still hard to fit in 40 hours, but the regular schedule means I am more productive than if I am just trying to squeeze things in, and my staff know the best times to reach me. Also, I don’t have to give up dinner with my family, an evening walk by myself, and playing in the sprinkler with my daughter on the weekends.

    1. Delta Delta*

      This is really clever – swapping some time with a neighbor in a similar situation.

  86. Mel*

    I do think it’s unreasonable to expect to be paid if you are not able to complete at least 80% of your work in a timely manner. It’s understandable for the short term but it’s not a strategy for the months that this situation will go on.

    My first suggestion would be, if you can afford it, to request a leave of absence under FMLA until daycare reopens.

    If that’s not an option then I agree with others and look at a hybrid approach including asking your husband to shift his hours, possibly hire a sitter to watch your child in house, and on some days you work evenings instead of days. Yes this means sacrificing family time, but all over the country families do this every day as shift workers. At least it would be temporary.

  87. Re'lar Fela*

    I have no real advice, but as the single parent of a 3 year old also working “full time” from home…well, I have all the solidarity. It’s ROUGH. Especially when you’re the only one in that situation. I have colleagues with toddlers, but they all have partners and/or older children who can at least keep the little ones entertained for an hour while mom is on a meeting. I tried the working evenings/weekends thing for a few weeks, but as you said, I was MISERABLE.

    The thing that helped the most was having an honest conversation with my supervisor about it. She has four school-aged kiddos at home, so she definitely has a crazy-making situation as well. I still get the feeling from time to time that she’s disappointed by my lack of productivity, but knowing that we’ve had that conversation has been helpful for my mental health.

    Parents, I see you. This is hard and it sucks and it doesn’t seem likely to get better any time soon. You’re all rockstars.

  88. Person of Interest*

    OP, have you had a bigger picture conversation with your boss about what % of your normal workload you can realistically handle right now? Rather than pushing back on deadlines one at a time s/he may be more receptive to a general understanding of what you can commit to, and what may need to be backburner-ed or reassigned for a while. Perhaps that comes with conversation about reducing your expected time and pay for some period of time until you think you can find a day-care solution – but you should offer what you think will work for you, while doing your best to honor your professional and personal self.

  89. Dust Bunny*

    “I am already so stressed out about everything going on in the world and am losing my mind. I really cherish the few moments I have to just relax with my husband in the evening or take a long walk with my family on a Saturday.”

    The thing is . . . this has nothing to do with your child. We are all there, toddlers or not, and we’re all suffering in various ways (your coworkers who are single may not have an immediate support system in the form of a spouse, for example. Simpler =/= easier).

    So, yes, I think you should be doing something to at least split the difference. As it is, it sounds like you’re getting full pay to accomplish practically nothing of your job, which, while it’s not fair expect you to carry on as usual, seems a bit far in the other direction. (I have responsibilities to parents and pets, so instead of my usual 7:30-4:30 I’m working basically 5:30-6:30, 8:00-11:00, 12:00-3:00, 4:00-5:00. I don’t usually need to work evenings but I have when something else came up.)

    And I agree with everyone who says your spouse should be shifting his hours to allow you to accomplish this. My brother and SIL are both WFH with a 2 1/2-year-old: He takes the kid until noon so she can work; she naps with and manages the kid after noon so he can work. She gets up extra early and he works into the evening, and I would guess they both have things to do on weekends.

    But the deal is, we’re all going to have to give up the lives we’d rather have for . . . a long time.

    1. Pretend Scientist*

      I agree with this. OP updated above stating that her husband is a resident and doesn’t have much control over his schedule, but…her comments about wanting to relax in the evening and on the weekend? Who doesn’t? If work isn’t getting done, that is a big problem.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Oops, I missed the husband part. But then he still needs to be the primary (for-real primary, not primary but has to ask her what the kid eats or where she keeps the clean diapers) parent in the early morning and/or evening and on weekends, and their free weekends may need to be free Sunday afternoons instead.

        I get it. It sucks. It really does. My emotional support network and safe spaces away from my elderly parents are inaccessible and I am burned out. I considered going car camping in July in Texas to get a break, but the state park was closed, too. I spent an afternoon at a local cemetery instead. But my parents are both over 70 and one is on immunosuppressants so I feel like I don’t dare go anywhere I don’t absolutely need to where there are people.

  90. Green great dragon*

    I also agree with asking husband to do more. But fundamentally, it sounds like you just don’t have enough hours in the week between you, and it might be a weight off your mind if at least one of you formally moved to part time work for the duration.

    Would it also help if you agreed a schedule and were clear about the degree of focus at various times? Eg you will be able to work without childcare 7-9am, 12-1pm, plus 1-6pm subject to naps/alongside childcare, but not after 6pm. I manage someone in that position and it’s helpful to have clear available/not available/can check emails but might be interrupted times. (She’s finding it tough. I’m grateful she’s doing as much as she can. She does not work evenings or weekends to make up time.)

  91. businessfish*

    As an alternative viewpoint, it is possible that the OPs family has determined that the husband’s job takes priority over hers for reasons unrelated to gender. My husband and I both work, but my salary can solely support our family, while his could not, so when someone has to sacrifice at their job, it’s him. Simply put, in an *economic* sense, my work time is more valuable than his*. He has taken on the vast majority of the childcare so that I can maintain productivity.

    It isn’t fair, and when I’m done with my work day I definitely step in and take over with the kids, but it’s the arrangement that we have decided works for our family.

    *His work right now of actually keeping our 1 and 4 year old alive is absolutely harder and more valuable to our family, but we’d be homeless without my job!

    1. Koala dreams*

      We don’t know that of course, we only know that her work is flexible and parent friendly, and that his work is neither. With a small child, that flexibility can be worth a lot, even though it’s difficult to put a monetary value on it. Even after daycare opens again their will be some need for flexibility. It’s of course impossible to write down every consideration in a short letter, and the answers mirror that. There will always be helpful as well as unhelpful answers.

  92. not that kind of Doctor*

    If it helps to hear from the manager perspective:

    One of my reports is struggling similarly. Her child is 3 (I think??) and very busy and inquisitive. Her husband is useless. She does have child care 1 day a week from her mother, but her mother is not the most reliable so sometimes that doesn’t happen.

    On one level it’s true that I don’t “get” it. I don’t have kids & don’t know what it’s like to live with a toddler. But I do get that this employee is a valued member of our team. She does critical work; if it takes longer than it used to, we can live with that. Sure I get frustrated sometimes, but I get over it. (Lots of things about life are frustrating right now; we live with them.) Her mental health is important to me too; I have zero issues with her using her weekends for actual weekends.

    I don’t know how well I’m expressing this to her. I do my best to ask questions when I need to without applying pressure. I make sure to let her know things are not urgent. But I know she’s stressing anyway. We all are.

    Best of luck & support to you.

    1. Alice*

      This is lovely and you sound like such a thoughtful manager. So refreshing after reading all the cranky “suck it up” comments.

  93. Kelly*

    We also have a one year old son. If you can afford it, and no one in your household is high risk, I HIGHLY encourage you to hire a daycare provider you trust. We hired someone part time while his daycare was closed – it was the only way we could work (we’re currently both working from home but are considered essential because of our industries), take care of our son and maintain a little bit of sanity.

    Because our daycare was closed, we were able to hire his actual teacher from the school (with their blessing) who we trusted to take social distancing and other precautionary measures seriously. We had her come half day so we could both get a full morning in, plus we could rely on him taking an afternoon nap once she left. We took turns in the afternoon when he was awake, and would block off each other’s calendars to watch him when one of us had a meeting.

    Unfortunately this is an impossible situation. For us hiring some help was the best solution, but it does come with added cost and added risk. Good luck to you either way!

  94. Nightengale*

    The psychiatrist may or may not have any say over his hours. I work in a field similar to child psychiatry. I would LOVE to have evening hours a few days a week. It would be better for me to work afternoon/evening instead of morning/afternoon, and it would better accommodate working families.

    However, I’m in a group practice and it’s not up to me. Someone has to check the patients into the computer. (Even with telemedicine). If I see patients in the office, someone has to weigh and measure them. I’m not allowed to do the computer part, although I could do the weighing and measuring part. But that means someone else either has to work non-standard hours, or get overtime.

  95. Lucette Kensack*

    I think every aspect of this situation needs to “give” a little:

    Your employer needs to acknowledge that you’re not going to be at full productivity for an extended period of time, and adjust your workload to accommodate that. It sounds like they have, for the most part, done this so far. Now they should continue to offer some limited flexibility, and they should communicate their expectations clearly so you know where things stand. (Like: “We can handle another month decreased productivity, but once we get into our Q4 busy period we’re going to need to have this role fully staffed,” or “We can get by if you hand off the corporate clients to Charleita, but we need you to stay on top of the government clients.”)

    You need to acknowledge that you can’t expect to be paid your fully salary to do part-time work for the amount of time that this pandemic is likely to last, and figure out what adjustments you can make. If you need to continue earning your full-time salary, you could shift your hours (as you described + additional childcare support from your husband). If you can get by with a temporary reduction in pay, you could access the Families First Act paid family leave (I’m not sure if that can be taken intermittently — does anyone else know?), and/or reduce your hours to an amount that accurately reflects how much time you can commit to your work.

    Your husband needs to share childcare in a more flexible way. Could he reduce his clinical hours, or shift some of his hours out of his 9-5 schedule? (If he’s in private practice, I’m sure he’d have patients eager to take evening and weekend sessions.)

  96. Cara*

    I had a whole long response typed out, but it’s not worth it.

    OP, it sounds like you’re keeping your job to get paid to parent your child.

    Also, wow do I have a lot of sympathy for your coworkers and managers.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ve been on the receiving end of that accusation and I can tell you authoritatively that it accomplishes absolutely nothing but to erode respect for the accuser.

    2. Littorally*

      I don’t want to know what your long response said, but frankly, a short comment insulting the OP and offering zero useless advice is not worth posting either.

    3. Amber Rose*

      And what’s stopping her company from forcing her to part time, or firing her, or doing anything here?

      I don’t understand why everyone is saying OP is being so unfair to her company. They have literally, actually, all the power here to change things if they don’t like the amount of work she’s putting out. She’s not choosing to keep her pay, because that choice hasn’t been offered, they are just giving it to her. This is THEIR call not hers.

      I really… I am so baffled here.

      1. Amber Rose*

        And by everyone, I am of course being hyperbolic and talking about a rather small number of people. My frustration got the better of my language skills there.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        Because everything is always the fault of the person at the bottom with the least amount of power, especially if she’s a woman.

    4. OliviaCharles*

      Same. Based on my reading of the letter, it sounds like OP’s work/boss is getting fed up with her. (I sure would be if this were my employee.) Of course we’re in unprecedented times and flexibility is necessary, but this has also been going on for months, and I would expect any working adult to figure out how they’re going to continue to do their jobs by now. It doesn’t have to be a babysitter or daycare-in this case it could be flexing work hours to work more early/late, possibly working a half day on weekends, and hitting around 75% productivity. As a manager, I’d be perfectly happy with that.

      OP’s unwillingness to sacrifice her “few free moments,” which she has from 6pm on during the week, plus unlimited free time on the weekends, is really baffling. If you’re unwilling to make any changes or sacrifices, perhaps working a job right now isn’t going to work. Which is a perfectly valid choice. Continuing to push back on work assignments while refusing to make changes is not.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Americans: “Sacrifice your mental and physical health for capitalism since absolutely nobody will make any sacrifices whatsoever, it’s your responsibility and yours alone. If you can’t or aren’t willing, please go bankrupt.”

        You’re all completely off. WT actual F. This whole post is making me feel like I swallowed crazy pills.

        1. OP*

          Thanks Amber Rose, and others, for weight in here! I feel like I’m going a little crazy too, but I’m hoping my question was just…poorly worded or explained, or something? And we’re not actually crazy? I tried to clarify below that my question was basically exactly what you wrote. I think you expressed it better. But why is it assumed that we need to sacrifice SO MUCH just to make sure our employer doesn’t have to sacrifice anything?

  97. chewingle*

    Wow, this could have been written by me. I have a 4-month-old who is home 2 days a week with me (I found a nanny-share that she attends 3 days a week, which I hate because she should be self-isolating with me. But I would have to quit my job to make that work. Full stop).

    My husband isn’t a psychiatrist. We actually both work for the same company. As it’s a medical education company, business is booming with COVID. So we’re busier than we’ve ever been.

    With an infant at home.

    My husband takes on a good bit of the childcare, but that means for many hours a day, one of us isn’t getting anything done.

    The solution we have currently is that we take turns (prioritizing meetings, though I’ve been simply declining to attend most of mine because I’m not going to waste what precious time I DO have for work sitting on a call I don’t need to be part of). And then I do what I need to during nights and weekends to stay on top of my work. I am miserable.

    Even though it’s only 2 days a week, I feel like I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown when I’m trying to balance her and work. Even though everyone has been understanding, the demands inevitably begin piling up when it’s my turn to take the baby.

    I’ve been considering switching to part-time for the foreseeable future. Though it’s not ideal.

    1. chewingle*

      And going through the comments on this thread aren’t very helpful to anyone also dealing with PPD and already feeling alone in the whole “WFH with an infant” ordeal.

    2. chewingle*

      Oh, and interestingly, my husband’s boss actively discourages him from working over the weekend, even though he’s transparent about how much time he spends caring for our daughter (which also surprises his entire department, as the expected *I* would be doing that by myself. And working full time). Having us both working for the same company definitely highlights the inconsistencies in how men and women with kids are treated. Because I am expected to work nights, weekends, holidays, whatever it takes to make up for having a child during a pandemic. And that’s when the requests I’m getting aren’t along the lines of, “This is due in an hour, good luck.”

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        …so they are literally telling your husband to work part-time for a full-time salary while demanding you work round the clock?

        That is one of the most infuriating bits of sexist bullshit I have ever seen on this site.

  98. LeighTX*

    I was coming on to ask if you could not use your daycare funds to hire at least a part-time sitter, and then I saw a commenter note that they were still paying full price for daycare just to hold their child’s spot. Is that an actual thing?! I understand that daycares need income just like any other business but if they’re providing zero services for the same cost as full-time daycare . . . I would push back on that SO HARD.

    So sorry for all parents caught in this dilemma. There are no easy answers.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I can’t corroborate that parents are paying full-price to hold their spots at daycare, but it wouldn’t even make the top 100 list of the craziest things I’ve heard this year if it proves true.

    2. blackcat*

      I know some folks who have been paying full cost the entire time. I paid full for March and April, then 50% for May and June. We are back now. We had a sitter for May and June, so our overall daycare expenses were really high.

    3. chewingle*

      Yeah, when my state shut down daycares, everyone had to continue paying or lose their child’s spot. Some of my coworkers couldn’t afford that (as they had to switch to part-time due to their kids being home) and pulled their kids from daycare entirely.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Yes, my brother and SIL are still paying (not sure full price) for daycare to hold their kid’s spot *and* to help the daycare keep its employees. It’s a small town and there aren’t a lot of other daycare options *or* job options if the teachers get laid off.

    5. Delta Delta*

      I wonder how many parents instead decide to pull their kids from daycare entirely and hire an in-home nanny/carer? There’s the huge cost, and there’s also the danger of exposure. I can also see where a daycare employee might not want to risk going back and might look for an exclusive in-home job.

    6. Alexis Rose*

      This is definitely a situation to be mindful of, but OP does state that they are saving money by not paying for daycare right now, so the suggestion to hire someone is a good one.

    7. Third or Nothing!*

      Yes. It is a thing. My daughter’s daycare wanted us to pay to hold her spot even with her being out for 4+ months. We were like “nah, we’re just going to pull her out because we can’t pay for a service we don’t receive for an indefinite amount of time.”

    8. Kay T*

      I know someone who owns two small daycare centers that are remained open throughout for children of essential workers. They were required to have a higher staff/student ratio than pre-Covid for social distancing and she was trying to pay all of her (excellent) staff so they would not be forced to find alternate work. Her own husband has not worked since March, so she certainly couldn’t afford to pay the staff without parents contributing. In her case, because it’s a small company that she has full control over, she requested that those families who were working from home and making their full salary continue to pay so those who were furloughed due to the pandemic wouldn’t have to, enabling her to pay her staff and keep the business running. Like opening schools, this seems to be a no-win situation. Yes, it’s unfair for parents to have to pay if they’re not receiving service, but most want there to be a daycare to go back to when they need to return to the office. That’s why they’re willing, if grudgingly so, to pay to hold that spot.

  99. Perfectly Particular*

    Assuming you are in the US, have you and/or your husband considered taking the 12 weeks leave that is allowed per FFCRA? If you both did it, that would give you 24 weeks of care for your child without having to bring an additional person into your home. It is a 1/3 pay cut, but if daycare rates are still as high as they were when my kiddos were little, it would basically be unnoticeable since you are not paying for childcare. I’m not sure if the FFCRA leave works the same way as FMLA where you don’t have to take it all at once, but if it does, then you and your husband could each continue to work 2-3 days per week so that you are not 10 weeks behind on your work.

    1. blackcat*

      Given that OP is pregnant, she could lose access to FLMA for baby#2 if she does this option.

  100. Sonny Corinthos*

    My word. I understand the childcare thing as I, too, have two young children (7 and 3) and have been working from home full-time; my husband is an essential worker and continues to work away from the home 8-10 hours a day. But since I am fortunate enough to receive my full pay, I make it work! Is it exhausting? Absolutely. Is it possible? YES.

    You’re essentially asking for the rest of your staff to pick up the slack, be understanding and accommodating, and you still receive full pay? You refuse to ask your husband to block off time in his schedule, refuse to work nights or weekends, refuse to fit time in during the day…it sounds to me as though you’d rather not be working at all but still receive the benefit of pay. We’re all stressed out in this new world. We’re all trying to figure out ways to make it work. We’re all having to be flexible and create a new normal-the difference is you’re expecting everyone around you to adapt and overcome but you refuse.

    Also, having a staff that is understanding and kind and willing to pick up your slack is a godsend that many of us are not afforded-don’t take advantage of that kindness by not doing your fair share. Especially when there are so many people on unemployment who would love the opportunity to carry the load.

  101. Jennifer*

    Okay, since you’re husband’s job isn’t flexible right now I would suggest hiring a local, responsible teen to come in a few hours a week to watch your toddler for a few hours everyday so you can work uninterrupted. Hopefully, you are in an area where Covid-19 testing is free and widely available so you can make sure the sitter is in the all clear before hiring them. You could have the teen work half a day then maybe put in an hour or two in the evening after your child is asleep and another couple hours on the weekends.

    Another option would be taking leave with the 2/3rds pay until something changes.

    Best wishes!

  102. agnes*

    Other people have given you a lot of good suggestions about how to maybe make things work better,. I want to address the question in the headline. I don’t think any decent company expects parents who are working with toddlers at home to be 100% as productive as they were in the office, but I do think you need to recognize that your colleagues may have complex home issues that they are juggling as well, even if they don’t involve small children.

    If your productivity is so off that it is creating a lot more work for other people on your team then I hope you will pursue ways to support your teammates better, even if it means giving up some nights and/or a weekend day. Of course if you do that, then you shouldn’t also be trying to work all day. You could actually be “NOT AVAILABLE” and take some stress of your plate and just take care of your child.

    It’s a quick path to resentment when the person with small children wants all the grace and flexibility in the work environment. I’m not saying that the OP is doing this, but it can sure look that way to teammates if they have to pick up a lot of slack.

    1. Anon Anon*

      This is a great comment.

      I might also suggest if childcare is going to be an ongoing issue to have a discussion with her boss not only about the challenges she’s facing, but her concerns about how it’s impacting the team. There may be a way to scale back her workload and/or to move around responsibilities so that perhaps work that has short timelines gets temporarily assigned to another staff member. Or there may be other strategies that they can develop that may potentially alleviate any frustrations her co-workers may have, and those strategies may help also help reduce the OP’s stress level.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I totally agree. The OP seems to be frustrated that people are still expecting the same amount of work and speed of work turnaround from her. But changing that involves a discussion with the boss about what expectations are set within the group for her productivity and deadlines, not just pushing back when people ask you to do something your position has traditionally handled. With her boss she can create an expectation that she *can* be on top of, rather than struggling to meet one she can’t.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, I am very torn. As someone who has no children (though I do watch my toddler nieces and nephew on the weekends so my sister can work, I do know how hard it can be to work when small children are running around) I think my patience with the OP would get limited. How can you, OP, restructure expectations you have for yourself and that others have for you? Can you speak to your boss as Anon Anon and fposte, suggest? Can you plan to do 4 hours of intense work on Saturday when your husband takes the kid to the park? Can you select which tasks are critical and clear that list with your boss and then roll it out? It seems like there’s a combination of you bring overwhelmed (which is understandable) and maybe starting to resent your coworkers who are innocently asking when the report on the chocolate teapots will be done.

  103. Cranky Pants*

    I’ve been similar situation but add a very needy 3 year old into the mix as well. Every night my husband and I set a schedule for the next day. I would suggest he block of time during the day and add some evening sessions. As much as I hate working in the evenings this is not normal times. So you may need to work in the evening as well. That does not mean you need to work and care for a child around the clock. By having dedicated work and dedicated family time it made life easier. Not ideal but a lot easier.

    Here’s a sample schedule. It changed depending on calls and appointments.

    8-9 work duty and my husband would be on kid duty. (I’d check my email and plan my day and complete things that had to be done that day)
    9-12 I’d be in strickly kid duty.
    12-1 Worked while husband was in charge of lunches
    1-4 kid duty, if the kids napped or did quiet activity I could sometimes get some work done.
    4-6 on work and husband on kid duty
    6-7 dinner/family time and bed
    7-8 wrap up work only if any urgent issues

    We did zero work on the weekends period. We decided we needed two days a week for us where we did not have to juggle crazy schedules.

  104. Eeniemeenie*

    During our lockdown I was off work while my husband worked full time at home. It meant I could take care of our children and allow him his normal working schedule. And you know what? Even then he struggled to work with kids at home. It is not easy to WFH when you have kids constantly crying, shouting, running around in the background. It got so stressful for him that when our lockdown restrictions eased I took the kids to my parents’ place for a week. My husband said his productivity went up as soon as the kids weren’t there lol.

    All this to say, this is not a normal situation and you absolutely cannot be expected to work and do childcare at the same time. Simply adding an 8 hour work day while your child sleeps is NOT a solution (unless you are aiming for a mental breakdown).

  105. MRskier*

    If I were her employer or even a co-worker I would be pretty unhappy with her. Sure I know the Covid has its effect, but she is putting in very few hours and receiving full-time pay and benefits. Her work has suffered. She cites that she doesn’t want to do her work when her husband can watch the child, because she cherishes the time she spends with the family. If given a choice most people would rather spend time with their family than do their job, but they know they have to do their work. I agree that child care is work and time consuming. Right now the baby’s welfare needs to be this woman’s number one priority. I am going to sound old school (which I am) and would ask how much understanding does the company have to show for this woman’s difficulty in getting her work completed? I just think it might benefit all involved if she takes a leave of absence or the company furloughs her.

  106. Alexis Rose*

    If this were my coworker or direct report? I guess my feelings about it would depend on what type of tasks OP is letting slide.

    Every job has core tasks that *must* be done and other tasks that *should* be done. For a llama groomer, the grooming itself *must* be done; conducting follow-up surveys on llama satisfaction *should* be done, but the world will not fall apart if it is not. Different jobs have different balances between these types of tasks.

    How much is OP able to complete of their tasks that *must* be done? If they don’t complete them, those tasks will have to be done by others who will have to work longer hours (likely for the same pay) to get them done, which is going to lead to burnout and resentment on the team.

    To maintain goodwill from their boss and teammates, OP should get really, really clear on what *must* be done and commit to doing it (with help from husband, hired teenagers, etc suggested from others), while also letting go of what *should* be done for now.

  107. 2 Cents*

    So much good advice here. OP, I’m reminding you to be kind to yourself — you deserve to have wind-down time for yourself! I’m in the same sort of boat: working from home full time with a 2 year old. My husband is a teacher, so he has more flexibility now that it’s summer, but my goodness, it’s hard!

  108. Nita*

    As someone also caring for a toddler, I have about 60 seconds to write a response. Maybe I’ll come back and say more in the evening, but for now – lots of sympathy. And keeping yourself from breaking down under stress is vital. If that means you don’t work evenings, that means you don’t work evenings.

  109. RC Cola*

    OP, I 100% feel your struggle and was in a similar situation. I ended up sending my little one back to daycare (which are open under limited capacity in my state), even though I worry every day about how safe it is. A few quick thoughts:
    -Does your toddler take good naps? I blocked off my baby’s nap times every day on my calendar as “no meeting” times where I would blast out the majority of my productive work for the day.
    -I found that getting up early and working in the morning was best for me. My husband handled the morning routine with the baby, while I got in a solid 1-2 hours of work before his daily 9 AM meeting.
    -I know the APA recommends no screen time under 2, but honestly, I got a good deal of work done by turning on Little Baby Bum or Octonauts on our TV for an hour or two each day. That mostly got me through chunks of time when I had meetings.
    Since I went through this, I know exactly how you feel about wanting to protect your downtime. I was so stressed and burnt out after child care and working all day, that I needed those evening hours to recharge. Personally, I just estimated how many hours I was not productive during the work day and then tried to make that up by catching up on a few projects in the evening or morning. But, I would always keep that time to a minimum–or at least keep track of how much time I was putting in.

    1. 2 Cents*

      My kid has had so much screen time through this, he’ll think Curious George is a part of the family.

  110. TotesMaGoats*

    I echo what everyone has said that if Hubs can adjust his schedule, he should do so. Second to that, maybe just generally you should adjust yours a bit. Dont be stuck to 9-5 if there is no reasons to be. Maybe just shifting to a later 8 hours will help a bit.

    I was very lucky that I only had to deal with my 6yr old son at home by myself for about 3 weeks. My spouse is essential but unable to work on site so he was home for all of April and May and only starting going back to work for limited hours after school ended. Thankfully my son’s daycare was an option for us for the summer and they are planning for support in the school year too (whatever fresh hell that will look like0. My husband handled all of it. The e-learning, the playtime, the meltdowns. I could not have done my job and done all of that.

  111. HR in the city*

    I am with Alison in that i agree your husband needs to block out some time or revise his schedule so that he can share the childcare duties. The child isn’t just your responsibility. I spent from mid-March to mid- June homeschooling my two children while also trying to work. I told my boss straight out I would not be working full time but still put in 25-32 hours each week working. & I honestly experienced the same thing where I didn’t feel I got any sympathy from my coworkers despite the fact that all but one has kids but their kids are all 18+ so they didn’t have the same experience as me. For me what has helped is realizing that no one is going to appreciate the sacrifice you are making with working at home while your child is there. I still have two days a week I am remote and my child goes to day care since it reopened. Now I have become the scapegoat for things not being exactly like they were before COVID. So I just grin and bear it and keep sending out resumes. I need to move on from my position. Best of luck to you and this is my only suggestion on how to handle this situation.

  112. Another Mom working at Home*

    You’re saving money on daycare. Is it possible to hire someone to come into your home to watch your child at least some of the hours?

  113. cheeky*

    I definitely know people who are working at nights and on weekends because they’re taking care of their kids during the day. It is hard. It does suck. It doesn’t feel sustainable, but it’s also the best option they have right now to do their jobs. I will say, if there are others picking up your slack, then yes, it does seem wrong to take a full-time salary.

  114. Karak*

    OP your husband is going to tank your career. Not you, not your baby, the fully functioning adult who has decided he’s off childcare for 40 hours a week, so you get to work 80 hours.

    Your husband needs to shuffle his schedule. You need uninterrupted time to work and you don’t need to be working twice as hard as he is so he can relax at night while the baby sleeps. I’m deeply confused about what he’s doing after you work/childcare all day and burn out working another shift all night.

    Whether he shift his hours later, opens up weekends or evenings, it’s up to the both of you. We are trapped in our homes for the next year, and if this keeps up you will burn out and possibly be fired.

    On the second thing: no, it’s not immoral to need and take time to sleep and decompress away from job/baby. But you need to do some life reshuffling with your husband to ensure you’re not burning through goodwill at your job.

  115. Tina*

    If you are only able to do part time hours, can you make that the plan? Go part time. Do the hours you are currently doing, and get paid for those. Use the extra time for taking care of your kid and yourself. Continuing to work part time but get paid full time is not really sustainable – your company is being amazingly flexible and understanding, it seems, but that cannot be the permanent arrangement. They will need someone to get this work done. If that can’t be you, then you need to make it so they can hire someone else to cover the work you aren’t getting done.

    If I was your boss, I’d be super frustrated by now, I’m afraid. I’d want to support you, as much as possible, but I wouldn’t be able to justify letting you keep drawing a full time salary for so little work. Your pregnancy complicates things, since firing you during pregnancy can look like discrimination, but I’d be certainly having a very serious conversation with you about getting your work done in the time required, or leaving your position. And I’d be checking out what needs to be covered in case firing you was the outcome.

    You need to get ahead of this, because it’s not sustainable. I’m sorry. But you can’t carry on like this.

  116. Jungle Juice*

    I don’t want to come off as unsympathetic because I am in a similar boat as the OP. I have a 3 month old baby and he just started daycare this week. We have him enrolled at his daycare 4 days a week. My husband and I are both work from home but my husband may be going back to the office full time in the next few months. I dislike putting my baby in daycare and I am obviously worried by the pandemic and if he were to get sick, but I know that if we had him home full time I would be in this same position as the OP. It seems like a lot of commentors are assuming that childcare is not an option where she lives or in general, but that is not the case where I live. Is the OP just not comfortable with utilizing a childcare provider, even part-time?

    My husband has to bill for his hours weekly, so it is hard for him to take time away from that. On the other hand, I have meetings regularly, so I can’t do all the child-rearing. We also make about the same salary and we can’t survive off of a single income. There are no easy, straight forward solutions here.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      In a lot of places (I live in one) the State has shut down daycare. So, I would take the OP at their word that daycare is not an option.

      1. fposte*

        She’s updated to say that day care is allowed where she is now; she just isn’t comfortable with putting her child in it.

        1. blackcat*

          Depends on the rules. Where I am, you could only have a nanny if you (both!) met the criteria for essential workers (the same criteria as accessing the emergency centers). Obviously I know people flouted that rule, and that did get eased, but there was a solid two months where I am where it would not have been legal to have a nanny. As soon as that restriction was stopped, I started looking for a sitter.

  117. IRV*

    A lot of commenters are indicating that the hubby should shift his hours to take his turn with the child, and I agree. However, the LW is unwilling to shift her own hours to do so, and my take on her letter is that she’s fine with pushing her duties on her co-workers. It appears that one or more of her co-workers is getting annoyed with having to pick up the slack as the LW is not doing her job, hence the suggestion she work evenings. I get that the LW wants her evening and weekend downtime, but that’s not her co-workers’ responsibility to facilitate. She and hubby need to come up with an equitable solution to their own daycare responsibility so both can do the jobs they are paid for.

  118. Zanele Ngwenya*

    I see a lot of people commenting that it’s somehow a relationship problem, but as a mom in the exact same situation right now, I don’t see it that way. I just happen to have the more flexible job when it comes to work-from-home, so that’s why it’s got to be me doing mommy daycare/working simultaneously at the moment. Parenting is not a constant negotiation- it is sacrifice where sometimes one gives more than the other (and yes, that burden is usually gendered and that’s inherently wrong, but in our case, we need 2 incomes and my job is the one where I’m even physically able to attend to the child, just like her situation where you can’t ask a medical professional with HIPPA concerns to have a child in the background during serious mental health conversations). It sucks and I do get resentful, but my husband leaves for work as early as 4 am to be back so that I can attend my afternoon meetings. When we both have meetings at the same time, we give the toddler videos to watch. He works a very physically demanding job, but he’s on childcare duty the minute his butt is in the house.

    It stinks that there’s no one in the workplace who gets what you’re going through every hour (writing this now as mine is napping and I’m in a slow period). Normally, I manage by:
    1. Clearing my inbox from the night before in the early morning before toddler wakes up or while he’s dinking around mornings.
    2. Doing work while he’s eating at meals.
    3. Giving him more Youtube videos than usual.
    4. Using afternoon nap to power through everything. (I hope yours is still napping at least 2 hours a day).
    5. One hour in the evening while husband watches kid or for an hour after he goes to bed.
    6. Sporadically throughout the day when he has those rare moments of self-play.

    It is exhausting, but eventually, we found a balance. I am either working or doing childcare at the moment, but I’m able to retain my weekends still. Luxuriate in those weekends, and take some “me” time during them while husband and baby bond. For your bosses, maybe try doing a video call about the deadlines with child in it sometimes so they know EXACTLY how demanding a toddler is. It’s not like a pet or a child of a different age, and sometimes, video calls with your kid trying to push all the buttons on your laptop drives home that point.

    You have my solidarity!

  119. LizardOfOdds*

    I saw OP’s update about why her husband is more constrained in his ability to flex his hours, so it sounds like the right plan of action is for OP to leverage the flexibility she has at work to work and plan child care around his schedule. One of my employees arranges calendars with her spouse every night over dinner to make sure one of them is available for child care while the other is in a meeting. It’s hard, and it’s stressful, and it’s working because she’s being flexible and understands that she still needs to provide for her family while juggling child care duties.

    I agree with others that OP needs to give more in terms of schedule flexibility, probably working nights and weekends to make up for lost time during the day. Yep, that sucks, and yep, it means losing out on some family time so you can do the work you’re being paid to do. The well of patience and forgiveness is running low as the pandemic continues to rage on, and there’s even more risk that OP could lose her job if she continues to half-check in with substandard performance. Not to be too callous, but when costs need to be cut, who’s most likely to be let go: OP or her coworkers who are putting in extra time to work around her?

  120. Library Mouse*

    I’m in a very similar situation. Our family lives 16 hours away, can’t afford a nanny and most daycares in my area are closed. No outside help, just us. Right now, keeping your manager involved is paramount. Also, I agree with the majority of the comments here… your spouse needs to step up. While I’m the primary caregiver to my toddler, we still divide up the day. I take the morning child care, while he works, at nap time we both work and then I work evenings. Usually, I can sneak in a little work when my kiddo is coloring, etc. Also, I implore you to take care of yourself too! Best of luck finding a solution.

  121. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    You are right that it is unethical to accept full time pay for part time work. You should really move to part time if you can’t put in all the required hours. I work with someone who gets paid for 40 hrs/wk but in actuality only works about 10 hrs/wk, sometimes less. It’s incredibly demoralizing to the rest of us who work extremely hard for all of our expected hours.

  122. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    This is tough. You are in an impossible situation and depending on where you live, you are going to be expected to start working at a more regular capacity sooner rather than later. :(

    Most of my original suggestions to your letter you addressed in your clarifications/update. I know your child is quite young, but have you considered an older (i.e., 17+) teen/college student as even part time babysitting help? Maybe designating a room/space in the house that is sitter/child only that your husband does not use at all, to further minimize exposure? (Not sure if that’s possible, and you may have already thought of that.) There are a lot of kids home for the summer (and possibly longer) whose regular summer jobs have I am sure fallen through and may be looking for work. I can see not wanting to do this full time, but even a couple days a week would give you some uninterrupted time to focus on projects.

    I definitely get needing sleep and downtime. I am someone who doesn’t function well myself on prolonged lack of 7-8 hours. I would ask, are you saying “I could do more” because there are more hours in the day/week and you feel guilty for taking the minimum you need for self care, or could you actually tack on a few extra hours here and there? Not asking this to further add on guilt, just honestly asking. If it’s the former, trying to shove it in will make you less productive in the long run. But do be honest with your bosses. They may have some solutions for you!

    Don’t take EFMLA. It will exhaust your leave for when you want to take maternity leave.

  123. windsofwintergreen*

    I have a lot of sympathy for both OP and for her team and boss. People are always willing to be extra accommodating and understanding at the outset of a crisis. This is no longer a crisis though, it’s our new reality. (Yes I realize that the US and many parts of the world are still very much at crisis infection levels. The “novelty’, so to speak, has worn off though.) I know that I would be getting resentful of the situation by this stage of the game. OP needs to come to a solution that doesn’t include pushing off a majority of her work on others, or pushing back deadlines and therefore delaying their own work. I am glad to see that since this letter was submitted, her husband has been able to get more flexibility in his schedule. I do feel that it’s mildly unethical to take full time pay when you’re not completing the work. To me it’s not so much about hours worked than it is about measurable outcomes, but either way the OP is clearly not meeting expectations. That is obviously up to the company, although from the sound of the letter, patience is wearing thin there. I wish there were a good, easy solution. I wish even more that this virus would just disappear and things would go back to normal. But that’s not reality. We have to figure out how to work with it, because it’s here to stay.

  124. Jess*

    I’m in a similar boat– balancing childcare and full-time work. My husband does have flexibility in his schedule, so is able to share the childcare duties, but I have more hours a day with 2 kids, as well as a job that does not “turn off” in the same way he does when I have the kids.

    First, I think it’s incredibly unkind of some commentators to suggest you take a pay-cut or are being unethical for juggling both. These circumstances are not ours by choice, and I do not think reasonable to suggest/assume all employees are not impacted at work and home by the pandemic.

    I have been able to dedicate two days a week that are my “full” days in my home office. My husband takes on full responsibilities. The other three days a week I try to schedule my meetings from 9 to 1 (the hours I can be away from the kids). If meetings fall outside that time I either 1) pray I can stay on mute / kids won’t be killing themselves when I need to be off mute or 2) say I cannot make the meeting. It’s been hard to accept that is just the way it is. If I am integral to a meeting, I have found colleagues are willing to work around my schedule.
    I also believe, that if you are getting your work done (the real necessities of your job) in a reasonable amount of time– that’s the most we can hope for under these circumstances.

    I empathize with your position, and know how hard it is feeling split. Not being able to give attention to two important parts of your life is incredibly difficult and I have found a tremendous increase and anxiety and even periods of feeling blue. And add in your pregnancy to the mix– it cannot be easy. I am 5 months post-partum, and I truly believe those of us with kids at home are walking up a mountain every day. Hang in there and cut yourself some slack. The more you can forgive yourself and let up on your own pressure, the more you’ll be able to focus during your dedicated work time.

  125. OP*

    Hi again, and thanks to everyone for all the solidarity and advice! I really appreciate those of you who are being supportive. Some of the comments have been pretty hurtful, but in re-reading my letter I see that you might fill in some of the blanks in ways that paint a sketchy picture. I think it’s a bit too late for people to see this and adjust their comments, but just in case a couple more clarifications can be helpful:

    1. People are focusing a lot on the impact this is having on my coworkers, which completely makes sense given what I wrote. But actually, the title of my original question was about my obligations to my employer AND my coworkers, and for me, the employer was the bigger piece of that, because my job isn’t really such that my coworkers have to pick up the slack for me – my projects are my projects. When I say they get frustrated, I mean the higher-ups get frustrated because we will need to be pushing back client deadlines. No one is working overtime because of me.

    2. When I say I work some evenings and weekends, I mean it. I’m not sure why some people are saying I refuse to do that. If I am ever pushing back a deadline, it’s because I want to go to bed around midnight instead of pulling an all-nighter. And much of what I refer to as “down time” is spent doing things like cooking dinner.

    3. I think I am essentially wondering this: when I signed up for this job, entering into an agreement with my employer, we BOTH assumed my kid would be in daycare full time. When that can no longer happen because of things out of our control, is it assumed that the burden should fall 100% on me? I mean, maybe the answer is yes, and it seems like that’s how a lot of people feel, which is useful information. But I guess…why? Why shouldn’t it be something more like, “OK, I’ll give up 50% of my free time, and for the rest of it, you’ll need to push back some deadlines or pick up fewer new jobs from clients, etc, because this is a problem we are ALL dealing with together.” Eg, why is it assumed that corporations need to continue to make the same profits they were making before with the same productivity they had before at all costs? But workers are supposed to just dramatically shift their lifestyles to make sure that happens?

    I really do appreciate most of the comments and don’t mean to sound defensive! It’s just hard seeing that I may have accidentally painted a picture of someone living an almost-comical life of leisure with my rich doctor husband and my coworkers slaving away while I drink mai tais with tiny umbrellas in a perfectly manicured back yard. I realize I have it WAY better than many, and my question applies to them (the single moms, people with more than one kid, etc) even more so than to me – shouldn’t it be OK for employers to bear some of this burden?

    1. sequined histories*

      Honestly, lots of employers (and/or managers) will squeeze you for as much as they can possibly get. And many more who are quite well intentioned certainly won’t question how you manage to be so productive if you keep producing as before at the expense of staying up all night or neglecting your child.

      While it’s certainly their prerogative to insist you take a leave of absence or to fire you and hire someone else who can devote more time to the job, you are the only person who has the power to place reasonable limits on the the amount of work you do in this situation.

    2. Lexi Kate*

      Are you asking if it is ok for you (or others) to do significantly less work than you were doing before because your employer should be taking on fewer clients and happy to be bringing in less money because of the pandemic?

      Companies are trying to get back to their regular work and income, so they can continue to pay us and bring people back from furlough’s. What a majority of us are saying is that its been 4 months you need to come up with a way to do most of the work you were doing before the pandemic (80-90% or the same amount as your co-workers). We are saying you need to find a way for this to work because its likely going to be like this for another year A great majority of us are doing that with kids, a working husband, pets, and home responsibilities. You have a resident husband, a 1 year old, and a baby on the way we feel for you and understand your not living a life of leisure (no one living with a resident ever has, and being pregnant in the summer is a whole other level of hell on earth). However you are living a highly privileged life (working from home, having free time with your family, the ability to push off work or not get anything done during the day, your husbands residency being at home and not in a C-19 filled hospital). We are all scared and we are all on the edge. We are finding ways to make it work, because we need our paycheck and we need our employers to do well so we get raises and bonus’s to pay for the Tax increases we are going to be burdened with next year.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        OP – it is not reasonable for you to: a) work full time at max productivity while b) doing the primary caregiving for a toddler while c) doing at least half of the domestic duties while d) pregnant and e) in a situation where hiring help is difficult. So I think it’s time to figure out where there’s room to give.
        I think your corporation and our government should do more, but I’m not sure how to make them. And I’m curious – why are your coworkers frustrated with you not getting things done if it doesn’t affect their own workload? For me that raises some questions about office culture.

      2. Obie*

        This! OP do you really believe that clients are going to be ok with missed deadlines or lower quality work? They too are trying to keep their business sustainable and are going to move their business if they aren’t happy. Your organization is going to lose business, employees will lose jobs. Plus how do you know others aren’t picking up your slack – they may not have even told you. Your dept’s reputation will also suffer which will impact your manager and team. This is so much bigger than you.
        Since you asked about single parents, let me give you my POV. It is extremely difficult to balance all of it with no personal support structure. I appreciate the flexibility the Company has provided but also know that our Company has been making losses.I also know that I need to put food on the table and pay my mortgage so I am working even harder with longer hours to ensure we get some business in.

        1. eeniemeenie*

          Yep. If my plumber had to stop working mid task because he had a family emergency, I would totally understand and sympathise but I would not pay the full amount for an incomplete job or wait weeks/months for him to be able to come back. It comes across as…entitled, to suggest the employer should just accept lower quality work/productivity.

        2. LizardOfOdds*

          Yes, this is exactly it. I’m sure it feels unfair, but when a business hires a full-time employee, they do that expecting full-time work, and they build business plans, sign client agreements, project revenue, etc. with the understanding that each FTE will contribute full-time work to achieve business targets.

          When one person – especially a critical person who’s singularly responsible for client projects – suddenly stops delivering or delivers more slowly than expected, the impact of that ripples far beyond the one employee. Re-promising client projects might be OK short-term because a lot of clients are being kind and understanding about the pandemic impact right now, but expectations are shifting as our current environment becomes the new normal. OP’s company can’t reneg on contractual agreements with clients long-term because OP isn’t available full-time anymore. The company is committed to work that isn’t being done, which is a financial and legal risk to the business, regardless of OP’s personal circumstances.

    3. blackcat*

      If it were up to me, your employer could drop you down to part time work and the government could make up the difference in pay. Or, you know, some other appropriate, systemic solution.
      I also think lots of people are ignoring that a lot of businesses got PPP loans and paid employees their usual salaries despite not working AT ALL.
      There are appropriate national level solutions to these problems, and I am deeply angry that we’re somehow supposed to figure this all out for ourselves rather than the government taking the appropriate actions. But of course this is the same government that has decided to that were just going to let this virus spread essentially uncontrolled. So… it all fits together.
      I don’t know where you live, but I’m in the region of the US where things were VERY BAD and are now much, much better. So it’s easier for me to send my kid to daycare now. I think the calculation is very different elsewhere and you have my sympathies. Unfortunately, I think the right approach is to talk with your employer about officially dropping down to 50-80% FTE.

    4. Idril Celebrindal*

      OP, I’m sorry you’re having to see all these hurtful comments, and it is clear to me from your letter and comments that you are truly doing your best in a really awful situation. I feel like a lot of these comments reflect more on the posters than on you, this pandemic has stretched far longer than most people thought it would, everyone is frustrated and worn down, and apparently for some reason taking their frustration out on you. You don’t deserve it and it isn’t right, and I hope you can focus on the helpful comments and leave the hurtful ones as saying more about the poster than about you.

      I don’t know how much I can help, since I don’t have kids and am not trying to juggle that, but I will say that if I had a coworker in your position, I would definitely be advocating for you to have time for self-care, because that is truly vital to your health and ability to cope with life. I’m looking at needing to find a second job to deal with budget shortfalls, and that is absolutely one of my concerns, because it is absolutely essential to have that time and you deserve to not have to grind yourself down to the bone for everyone else’s convenience.

      I wish all the best for you and I hope you are able to find your peace and rest.

    5. eeniemeenie*

      “…when I signed up for this job, entering into an agreement with my employer, we BOTH assumed my kid would be in daycare full time.” Your childcare arrangement isn’t any of their business or concern, though. Employers aren’t even supposed to factor in stuff like this – by law – when making hiring decisions. They had a vacancy to fill under certain conditions and you agreed to it. If your situation changes and your employer can’t accommodate you, the onus is on you to decide if you can adjust your life to meet job requirements or…quit.

      As a manager I have people who say some variation of your question: “Why can’t the company just make X accommodations to make this situation work for me?” Because you’re not the only employee here, and there’s a bigger picture at stake. An employer often can’t make accommodations for just one person and nobody else. That won’t be fair, other employees will (rightly) grumble, and it will often cause more HR issues. It might also mean they have to juggle the budget in other divisions to make up for loss of profit in yours, or make some kind of complicated plan to receive approval from management, etc. It’s often not as simple as you think.

      The thing is, you don’t get to decide how much of the burden your employer is willing to bear on your (or anyone else’s) behalf. It’s a business relationship where each party decides how much they’re willing to give/sacrifice/accommodate – just like any other relationship. If your employer suddenly reduced your pay by 20% because they had a difficult year, it’s totally understandable for you to then job search because you’re dissatisfied with the changes in the terms of your employment. Likewise, it’s reasonable for your employer to need you to attain a certain level of productivity or be forced to replace you with someone who could.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Except, it is. U.S. society is run by the assumption that childcare in the form of day care, day camps or school will be regularly in session. I hope you’re never in a situation like OP where you need some flexibility because an unprecedented WORLD event is preventing you from “doing your best” all the time.

    6. Friendly Canadian*

      I think the reason people are saying the company will expect the same amount from you sent some weird bootlicking company worship but a recognition that in tough times they are probably going to be looking for people to cut and the people no longer working the same as they were before will be prime targets (which isn’t right)

    7. EBStarr*

      Hey OP, I was also very confused why everyone was accusing you of only wanting to work 9-5 when you had clearly said you were already working evenings and weekends. This issue must push a lot of buttons for people, but even so, it was a bizarre misreading.

      I just want to respond again to you because I’m also pregnant (no other kids though) and I just… really sympathize. Being pregnant sucks. Being pregnant in a pandemic SUCKS. Personally, I’ve already had to accept a lot of flexibility on the part of my employer (my coworkers, like yours, did not have to work extra pick up my slack), even though I’m healthy and have no kids to take care of except the one squirming around in my uterus; my mental health was just in pieces. I feel no guilt about the fact that I continued to accept full pay while writing like 10 lines of code a week for a month or two, even though nothing concrete was stopping me from doing more! And honestly, while I hate when people act like I’m just some vessel for my unborn child, the pregnancy thing should win you a little extra sympathy even from the more capitalist-minded: not only because you actually have way less energy than usual, but also, if you become too stressed, it actually could affect the baby as well as you. And this is already a stressful situation even for people who have no family obligations or health concerns–just being in the middle of a huge unfolding disaster is stressful.

      Um, anyway… back to the ethics question. Yes, I think it is ethically OK for employers to take on some of the burden of this situation–in fact, I think employers are ethically bound to take on *as much of the burden* as they can without its becoming a problem for the public good (if, say, you work at a hospital or somewhere else essential) or for their employees. Should the governemnt or society have a social safety net, yes, but they don’t, so employers need to be understanding of that. (Not only that, many employers provide flexibility because they actually *want* to keep their employees happy and retain them long-term, for their own profit motive!) Besides, sounds like your employer is fully aware of your situation and the fact that you aren’t able to reach your former level of productivity, and is still paying you. No one is forcing them! Employers have the vast majority of the power in employment agreements, so like, there’s almost no way for you to be unethical simply by accepting the pay you’re offered, unless you were lying to get it. And anyone who hears a pregnant woman say “I took a walk on Saturday” and thinks “OK, well, you were clearly lying when you said you were doing your best to get your work done” is… not probably someone whose ethical judgment you need to worry about.

      I personally think the only thing you need to worry about ethically is actually lying (and “I’m doing my best” is NOT a lie as long as you keep doing your best!), and taking unnecessary risks (putting your kid in daycare would probably be one of them given that pregnancy is now high-risk, not to mention that kids CAN get very sick from covid even if it’s rare; why would you do that when your employer is not absolutely requiring you to?). There might be the possibility of losing your job if your performance is low–but I would hope your employer would think twice about firing the only parent, and anyway that’s a practical concern, not an ethical one.

    8. Nassan*

      This is really nicely put. My answer is not a practical solution but since your question is also about how *should* it be: In my country it’s decided that majority of burden will fall on the state (in some cases even all of the burden), some on the employers and some on employee. So yes, in many places people (companies, governments) decided that the situation is extreme and workers shouldn’t carry all (or even the majority) of the burden.

      Back to my country – many people didn’t use this option and worked from home while taking care of children but based on my experience this is true for the ones where employer is flexible and decided to take on the burden. Their rationale is that it’s better to have people working at 70% and pay them 100% than have workers on full time leave (so no work is done) and not pay them. From the employees point of view they decided to take on the stress of working and child caring in order to get more money (even when the subsidy is a livable/nice wage) and to support the employer. And it seems to me that you and your company made the same agreement and now they are pushing you to do more. I would suggest to reopen this conversation to see if you are still on the same page or do they think you need to reach a different agreement (it can’t just be “do more” since it’s not possible for you).

  126. CMA*

    This letter could have been written by me a few years ago (minus the COVID-19 part). Something that really helped me when trying to work from home while taking care of a toddler full-time was trading off childcare with a friend who was in the same situation—we’d each take the other’s kid for one morning a week. The additional quiet time was totally worth the minimal hassle of looking after an extra kid (because once they hit 1, there’s no way you’re getting any work done while they’re awake). Not sure how practical this would be right now, as it would increase each family’s exposure to the virus, but so would hiring a baby-sitter, and this option has the very attractive benefit of being free. Might be worth exploring if you know of a like-minded family that’s struggling with a similar situation.

  127. DaringtoRead*

    Whew! I really empathize with this one, being in a similar boat with having an open daycare and toddlers at home. I’d suggest you first take a step back- did your boss actually say your productivity is a problem? Or, do you just feel guilty that you are not producing at a pre-COVID rate? Chances are, very few people are able to completely be as productive as they were pre-COVID for a myriad of reasons: mental health, childcare, family care, etc.

    From a personal and a managerial perspective, I suspect that if you are so worried about your work, you are a dedicated employee, and your boss would recognize that too, even if their sympathy feels lessened since they aren’t in your current life phase. I wonder if your productivity isn’t actually as terrible as you think. And if your manager or team hasn’t said something explicit to you about it, be kind to yourself. It’s a pandemic. This is a snapshot in time of a hopefully long life and career for you. You might find that very freeing, and helpful with focusing at work when you’re able to do so. :) Good luck!

  128. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Re: The Original Stellaaaaa*’s comment above–

    I’m torn on this issue. These are scary, demanding times, and I sympathize. We all do. However, I’ve been the childless singleton having to deal with a sudden double workload because a mom suddenly had to drop everything and run to pick up junior at school, or having to take up the slack because junior is sick another day, and another day, and mom can’t come in.

    And OP is talking about a daily situation, not an occasional one. Someone in that boat does need to take that into account, especially when their teammates are also stressed, dealing with their own productivity issues and possibly serious family concerns. If someone can’t hold up their end, it is hard for the whole team.

  129. Friendly Canadian*

    I say this as someone who works a bunch of weekends as well as my normal 9-9 schedule M-F but could you consider picking up a bunch of hours on the weekend to either get ahead or catch up to work that needs to be done? Your husband probably doesn’t have appointments then and can therefore look after the baby.

    Its not fair that you need to be working this hard but people will be looking for excuses as the economy gets worse and you don’t want to risk layoffs. :(

    Sending love, this sounds so hard!

  130. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    If your coworkers are being flexible with you during the workday, I think you owe it to them to return that flexibility by making up your missed work at night. You admit that you’re not performing well, and your letter is really just dancing around the question of whether it’s okay to keep lying to the people who are being very patient and generous with you while you return none of that kindness.

    Sorrynotsorry, but this is the exact type of scenario that makes all working moms look bad. I wouldn’t be surprised if this letter ends up being linked in some redpill forum.

    1. JimmyJab*

      Ouch, this is so rude. LW sounds genuinely at her wits end and her situation sounds stressful as hell. She isn’t making anyone look bad by not spending her every waking moment either working or caring for her child.

        1. AnnaBanana*

          Being a working mom pre-COVID and being a working mom now are two completely different things and this is no way “making all working moms look bad”. Have some common decency and empathy for someone who is really struggling and trying to figure out how to handle both her work and childcare. Yes, it probably does suck for her team, but you also have no right to say that she isnt being kind back to them. It is an impossible situation right now.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            She said she’s doing the best she can, but admits that she could do more but doesn’t want to.

      1. Pretend Scientist*

        I think the 2nd part is rude—nobody should be trashing working moms.

        The first part, though…I do get. The solution can’t be to push back on work during the day and then still be reluctant to work during the evenings and weekends. That isn’t fair to OP’s colleagues.

      2. PeteyKat*

        I wouldn’t call it rude but very blunt and to the point. The situation can’t continue as it is. Something or someone needs to give. Hopefully, the OP can speak to her spouse and he can make some changes to his schedule to accommodate her. She needs it very much. I wish the OP the best of luck. I don’t know what the redpill forum is but it sounds bad. I wouldn’t demonize the OP or place bad intentions on her though. I think she is very stressed.

    2. Naomi*

      Accusing OP of lying is harsh. I don’t think she’s being dishonest by retaining some free time for her mental health–“doing the best she can” doesn’t have to mean immolating herself on the altar of her job. And she wrote in because she genuinely wants to find a way to pull her weight at her job while also caring for her child and not completely burning herself out.

      Also, she doesn’t owe it to anyone to worry about whether someone will twist her situation to make working moms look bad.

      1. sunny-dee*

        Well, except she’s implying that she’s working off hours when she isn’t. Or at least she’s allowing people to make that assumption, when really she’s not doing anything.

    3. EBStarr*

      Wait, what? How is she lying? How is she being unkind to people? And how in the world does this question make working moms look bad? To recap, the mother is writing to advice columns and berating herself because she can’t handle 40 hours a week of full-time childcare AND 40 hours a week of work without making herself utterly miserable and exhausted, while the father goes merrily on with his pre-pandemic work schedule and probably hasn’t written in to any advice columns asking if he’s doing the right thing by letting his wife work herself to the bone taking care of their baby full-time AND trying to do her job.

      This question makes someone look bad, but it’s not the mother.

      1. EBStarr*

        ETA – just saw OP’s update as to why the husband has less control over his schedule than it sounds like from the question. Let’s just say then that no one looks bad here. Everyone is doing their best, including OP’s coworkers, who are indeed being generous–which is the one thing we can and should all do for each other during this unprecedented time.

    4. NW Mossy*

      If the OP’s anything like most people, the quality of the work that gets done between 6pm and midnight after multi-tasking minding a toddler and work since 6am is going to be pretty poor. Our brains can only handle so much at a stretch, and doing subpar work that you just have to redo later isn’t a good use of time.

    5. pieska boryska*

      Something tells me you’re pretty familiar with those forums. How about you quit pandering and help figure out a solution to LW’s reality?

    6. beanie gee*

      “This is the exact type of scenario that makes all working moms look bad”

      NO, this is the type of scenario that gets at why gender roles are still so effed up. That the husband doesn’t have to juggle a 40 hour work week AND the kid, but the wife does and is clearly, justifiably, losing her mind over it.

    7. Shirley Keeldar*

      This is an awful comment–how can you demand kindness from OP while showing none yourself? OP, please do not be distressed by this. You are not lying (this would be laughable if it wasn’t so cruel!), you are not being unkind to anyone; you are trying to handle more work than anyone should be handed. Childcare is work. Toddlers are HARD. You’re exhausted. I hope some of the ideas from other commenters might help make things a little better, but please pay no attention to this comment at all.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Wow, no. I’m torn on whether to remove this for violating the commenting rules, but I’m going to leave it because the replies are instructive but am also closing this subthread and moving it to the bottom of the page.

  131. WorkingIsImpossibleRN*

    I have also struggled with this same issue (reduced availability, same workload, nobody has kids as young as mine at my job so they think they get it but they don’t). I work from 7-9 am (my daughter wakes up & plays for 15-20 mins before I get her at 9). I’m with her from 9-12. She goes into her room for nap/quiet time from 12-3. I’m with her from 3-7. At 7 hubs takes over with play/bed, and I work 7-9 pm. If I was pregnant I likely couldn’t do 7-9 PM. I am behind at work often (which leaves me stressed) & I pick 1 or 2 nights to work an addl 3-5 hrs. This whole thing is really hard.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      By my add, you are clearly working more than 40 hours/week with this setup. YIKES. :(

  132. somebody blonde*

    So, my boss’s son isn’t quite as young, but she’s a single parent so I think my advice for you may still be helpful. Here’s what she’s been doing that’s helped me:

    1) figure out which parts of your job absolutely have to be done by you and no one else. Involve your boss in this conversation if necessary.
    2) try to figure out how much time it would take to cover that bare minimum responsibility. Talk your boss into allowing you to work only those hours.
    3) figure out a way to alternate work stuff with childcare instead of working normal business hours. My boss has been getting up early and doing work before her son gets up, then taking an hour off to be with him, and then works for a little while, alternating. Basically, don’t try to work 6 hours straight in the middle of the day, the kid is not going to make that possible. If you interact for a while and then work for a while, it should help the kid leave you alone more when you’re working.

    Really, the main thing to realize is that you can only do the bare minimum right now. This is not the time to be trying to be as helpful as possible, you just need to survive.

  133. AnonToday*

    Offering sympathy if not answers. I have a similar scenario, except that I already work part-time and am still struggling; plus my husband has serious health issues which mean that I really can’t ask him to do more than he already does (he is on medical leave from his own work, and often out of action). My children don’t sleep till late in the evening.

    I have tried to work evenings but struggle to stay awake/focused. I have worked through the night. I grab a few hours here and there whenever I can. My colleagues are helpful and understanding, and I have been open about the situation, but I am finding it seriously demoralising to be achieving so little.

    In my country, no childcare/schooling will be available for another month and a bit but I’m just crossing my fingers that infection rates will be low enough by the time it does reopen, because I can’t see the situation improving till then.

  134. Katherine*

    I’m going to make a probably unwelcome comment, but it may be what many of your colleagues feel.

    I can feel compassionate about emergencies that crop up for my co-workers. Where I can I’ve often done extra to help out a colleague so they can deal with an emergency. But the thing is, emergencies are short time things, then it becomes a new normal. Often when people need to pull back from what they’re doing others have to do more to fill the gap. If your boss is ok with you not doing your full job but still paying you that’s great, awesome that your employer is in that position. But if your boss is ok with you not doing your full job because they’ll happily make your colleagues work unpaid to do it for you, that’s an entirely different thing.

    I really feel for people who are struggling to work and cope with the realities of a COVID world. I encourage flexible working conditions wherever practicable. I want welfare to flow to those in need (which is more than just the unemployed). I want mental health services and medical services protectively available. I oppose tax cuts that are on the books in my area (those of us with jobs need to pay taxes to help those without). For the first few months even I thought letting some things slide as just not done and not going to be done (where it made sense business wise) was the better option than encouraging people to reduce work or take all their leave. But there needs to be an end date to so much acceptance of work not happening. We’re at that point. People who still can’t do their job because of personal circumstances, need to start changing their job.

    On a personal level, this have shifted from oh how horrible how can I help you, to this is now the norm and I need to focus on myself and my family first. You don’t want to work evenings and weekends because it’s exhausting and would destroy your home life, but if other people have to do not only their job but also yours aren’t you saying it’s OK for them to have to work evenings and weekends and destroy their family/personal life? A life that is every bit as valid and important as yours?

    It is true that your colleagues aren’t going to “get” what you’re struggling with. But you don’t “get” their lives either.

    It really is time for you to have another conversation with your boss. Will they support flexible working (if you can’t do your job 9-5 M-F then you need to do it at a different time)? Can you reduce hours? Will they hire someone to reduce your load? Is there work that can just not happen during all this (teapots will now be unpainted style of thing)? Can you get creative with annual leave? At the end of the day though, you cannot continue to expect other people to do the work you are being paid for. When you say people keep giving you all the work that goes with your job, it sounds like your expectation is that someone else should do it for you – they don’t have children (or the right age children) so obviously they should do all of their job and part of your job, because you’re a mom. The fact that your manager appears to be supporting this is problematic.

    It would be unethical (and hopefully illegal) to give you more work because you are a parent for you to earn the same pay. It is exactly true that it is equally unethical (and hopefully illegal) to expect people to do more work to earn the same pay because they are not a parent.

  135. J.B.*

    It’s so difficult! I think that this fall there will be a lot of 2 income families letting a job go because it just won’t be getting better in the US.

    I find that it works better for me to be on or off. So to work during naptimes and a couple hours each evening and weekend days. Definitely not full time but less switching back and forth. I can go back and forth from kid to laundry easily, not so much kid to work.

  136. Niska*

    OP, my suggestion is this: talk to your manager about the hours you reasonably expect to be able to work each week (without working yourself to death or being miserable). If you can, use the average number of hours you’ve been able to work for the past few weeks. This should take into account hours your husband can take care of your kid.

    Ask them if they’d like you to continue the arrangement (you work what you can – XX number of hours) for your regular pay, or you cut your paid hours to that number and use the CARES Act FMLA-type funds to cover the rest. If it’s close enough to your due date, you may want to consider taking maternity leave earlier and see if your husband’s workplace offers paternity leave.

    Either way, it’s up to your manager – not you- to figure out how to make sure the rest of the team is scrambling to cover the projects you aren’t able to get to, either by pulling back on those project, lengthening the timeline, etc.

    Committing time theft is unethical, but that’s not what you’re doing. You’ve had the initial conversation with your boss, already, it really just needs a follow up with the concrete time/productivity levels you’re reasonably able to do.

  137. That Deb*

    You obligation is to do your job, get the work accomplished and put your hours in. It might need to be on off hours, even if that makes you sad, but your coworkers are committing to getting their work done and the employer is committing to paying you for your committed work.
    Otherwise you owe it to yourself and them to be honest about what you can do and if you might need to consider a part time role, or a different job that doesn’t require you to meet commitments.

    The best thing to do is figure out what the solution that works for you looks like. When can you work? How can you get accomplished the role you were hired for? What specific actions do you need from your peers in order to meet those goals. Do you need them to be flexible on meeting times? on work coming in after hours? of helping you with meeting notes when you can’t attend meetings?

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