What kids think about working at home alongside their parents

March 30, 2020, 12:17 PM UTC
Robin Utrecht / SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! President Trump spars with GM CEO Mary Barra, Dr. Deborah Birx’s history fighting AIDS gives us insight into her coronavirus plan, and kids have thoughts about working from home with their parents. Have a productive Monday.

Today’s guest essay comes to us from Fortune senior writer Michal Lev-Ram

– Kids’ eye view. The struggle of working from home with three children is real. Just ask my kids.

While plenty of articles have been written about how hard this new, COVID-19 reality is for parents—some days it feels downright impossible to get work done and change diapers (and homeschool!) full-time—not as much attention has been paid to how our children feel about their new day-to-day.

So I decided to find out what they’re thinking, using my kids as my not-so-scientific sample. And guess what? They’re not that thrilled about being home with us either.

“It is hard to study at home because you have 0% friends,” wrote my 10-year-old daughter, a fourth-grader (and yes, I made my children write down their answers so I could justify it as part of “homeschooling”). “When you want to be with your parents, they are working and you get bored very easily.”

My 8-year-old daughter, a third-grader, had a similar take: “Sometimes I wish my mom wasn’t working so she could help me more, but I know her work is important so I don’t mind.” (I’m not proud of it but yes, in a recent moment of desperation, I told her my work is very important. I guess it stuck.)

My third child, a 21-month-old boy, is a little young for writing assignments—and topics that don’t center on snacks or trains. But if I can decipher anything from the fact that his once-normal nap and nighttime schedule has vanished faster than he can chug a bowl of Goldfish crackers, it’s this: He too is having a hard time adjusting to his new, daycare-free reality.

Like us adults, our kids’ lives have been upended. An estimated 55 million American children are suddenly home all day, disconnected from their teachers and friends because of massive school closures. Those lucky enough to dial in to classes via videoconference still have a lifeline to their former routine (an estimated 14% of U.S. families with school-age children don’t have internet access, so online tools don’t help them at all, socially or academically.) But even Zoom can’t give my 10-year-old daughter what she truly craves: throwing a football around at recess.

It’s not only their daily routines that have changed drastically and abruptly. Many children could be internalizing the stress they now feel about the dangers of the virus and worries for their parents or grandparents—they get it, even if they don’t say it.

To be sure, kids also have a delightful way of looking at the bright side.

“I do have more time with my family and my new pet tortoise,” wrote my 8-year-old. (Despite my job being very important, we do get to go on a daily bike ride. As for the timing of the new tortoise, any questions can be referred to her dad.) “And I’m looking forward to spring vacation!”

That reminds me… Anyone read any good parenting articles on how to master spring break while on lockdown? Asking for my kids.

Michal Lev-Ram

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe


- Relief response. President Trump signed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic relief package on Friday, after Congress rushed to respond to the economic side of the crisis. Everyone from Rep. Liz Cheney to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez eventually backed the bill. "This pathogen does not recognize party lines, and no partisan solution will defeat it," Cheney said. Fortune

- Will she save us? Can Dr. Deborah Birx save us from the coronavirus pandemic? That's the question posed by this in-depth profile, which examines Birx's data-driven approach to fighting the AIDS crisis (the story was written by reporter Emily Bass, who's writing a book about the history of the anti-HIV program Birx ran); her unique commitment to domesticity; and gendered criticism she has faced. Washington Post

- Messing with 'Mary B.' President Trump accused General Motors of "wasting time" as the automaker attempts to produce ventilators for the coronavirus crisis, name-checking CEO Mary Barra on Twitter. ("Always a mess with Mary B.") The president invoked the Defense Production Act to require GM to produce ventilators. The company says its commitment to building the supplies "has never wavered." Fortune

- Resale risks. Apparel resale platforms—like Poshmark, co-founded by Tracy Sun, and The RealReal, headed by CEO Julie Wainwright—are facing the sting of the coronavirus crisis, reports Fortune's Phil Wahba. And at The RealReal, warehouse employees worried about their safety are questioning what qualifies as "essential work" during a pandemic, according to the New York Times.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: The Fox Business Network let go anchor Trish Regan, who said on air in early March that the coronavirus crisis was "an attempt to demonize and destroy" President Trump. The British Museum's appointment of classicist Mary Beard as a trustee, overriding Downing Street's veto, is now official


- Governors governing. Governors continue to lead the way on coronavirus response plans. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is still battling with President Trump and fighting for resources for her state after he said he had a "big problem" with the "young... woman governor" because of her criticism of the federal crisis response. In Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo instructed state police to enforce strict quarantines of anyone coming to the state from New York. 

- Authentically Ayanna. Rep. Ayanna Pressley reflects on her decision to go public with her diagnosis of alopecia and to stop wearing wigs to cover up her hair loss. "It is disconcerting, for many, the presentation of a bald woman," she says in this interview. "But, this feels the most authentically me at this time." Washington Post

- Reading corner. We sent you into the weekend with lots of book recommendations on Friday, but how about a few more? Fortune staff share our current favorites here. The Medium publication Zora offers up 10 books by black women to read in times of uncertainty. The LA Times reviews The Herd, a new mystery by author Andrea Bartz set at a parody of The Wing. And in Vogue, an appreciation of the upcoming Judy Blume film and TV renaissance. 


Everyone is home right now, but who’s doing all the 'home' work? Harper's Bazaar

Divorced with kids during a pandemic The Cut

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"Rather than asking when I’ll get my job back, I’m asking how I can be better."

-Hamilton cast member Justice Moore on Broadway's closure

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