The new pressures on working parents to be full-time employees and full-time homeschool teachers while protecting their families from the pandemic are leading to exhaustion — with no end in sight, Kim Hart and Alison Snyder write.
- Why it matters: Working parents make up roughly one-third of the U.S. workforce. The longer the stay-at-home orders continue, the greater the chance that these workers will be on the verge of emotional and cognitive burnout before they return to their offices.
- At the end of March, 57% of mothers and 32% of fathers of kids under 18 reported worsening mental health, per a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.
Early research in China found that quarantine can bring on insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression, anger, emotional exhaustion and post-traumatic stress symptoms, per a review published in The Lancet.
- And the mental health impact was higher in cases where parents were quarantined with children. One study found 28% of parents were experiencing "trauma-related mental health disorder."
Reality check: People with lower incomes and those whose jobs or paychecks have been cut due to the coronavirus outbreak are more likely to be experiencing high psychological distress, Pew found.
- Mary Alvord, a psychologist in D.C., said: "There is a whole segment of society [whose d]ecisions are made for them. The core of resilience is feeling you have control over many aspects of your life. ... The more resources you have, the more control you have."
What to watch: This work-life upheaval will change the workplace when the pandemic eases.
- The "new normal" will probably involve more worker autonomy, more trust of remote workers' productivity and more flexibility for parents to balance home and office demands.
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