When Parenting, a Pandemic, and Inequity Collide

Kati reads to her two small children at home

By Catherine Salgado— 


It seems like only yesterday—and simultaneously a thousand years ago—that our youngest kid’s daycare called to tell us that the center will close because teachers were having cold-like symptoms. This was in the early days of the pandemic, when our oldest, a kindergartener, was still attending school, and tests were not available right away. Two days after that call, Seattle Public Schools announced indefinite school closures, giving us no time to arrange for childcareAnd just like that, my husband and I had to manage having two kids under six at home while working full-time  


Here are four things I learned about equity in my full-time parenting stint: 


Despite advances, women are still taking on most of the domestic burden, at the expense of working women everywhere. 


Like other parents, we have done our best to keep us and our kids happy and healthy during COVID-19. This included making the tough decision for me to take time off work. I was not the only mom to do so. Unsurprisingly, women are fulfilling most of the childcare demands and domestic responsibilities during the pandemic. According to a new research by the U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Reserve, 30.9 percent of women vs. 11.6 percent of men are taking time off work due to COVID-19related child care issues 


COVID-19 continues to unveil inequities and the need to re-allocate domestic responsibilitiesprovide equal pay and access to childcare, and offer flexible work schedules If we are not able to address these issues, working women lose, dramatically hindering the advancement of gender equity 


In a recent article by Fortune, the author points to specific recommendations for employers to stop the deep dive that the female labor force participation is experiencing since COVID-19 started. Providing work flexibility, changes in leadership styles, and investing on diversity and inclusion are key to support working moms and contributing to more inclusive workplaces 


Women of color are the most impacted. 


As a Latinx mother and an advocate for better diversity practices, I want to highlight that women of color are in particularly tough spot. For most of us, staying at home with our families is not an option. According to the Center for American Progress, 67.5 percent of Black mothers and 41.4 percent of Latinx mothers are the primary breadwinners in their families, in contrast to 37 percent of white mothers. In addition, Black and Latinx communities are experiencing disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths, as shown by CDC data 


These factors made me think more in depth about the important work that our client FORESIGHT—a national initiative to design an inclusive future of healthis doing. They are working diligently to include the voices of people who are left out of important conversations about their own health and wellbeing. The same people that are hit the hardest by COVID-19 and can provide key perspectives to build a system that works for all.  


Self-care is a political act that supports the resistance. 


I recognize the privilege I had being able to take the time off and as a good mamá Latina, I wanted to take full advantage of this precious time with my kids. My to-do list included: reading to them more often, having conversations about racial justice, and potty training my three-year-old.  What I haven’t taken into consideration while planning my time off, was how the political environment, in addition to all the COVIDera restrictionsincluding closed playgroundswould take a toll on my wellbeing.   


Consuming more media and social media was not helpfulas I was bombarded by depressing content and a multitude of articles with suggestions for better parenting. All seemed unrealistic, so I decided to put into practice what another one of our clients, The Stability Network recommends and practice self-careBy taking one day at a time, I realized that fulfilling my own needs first, made me a better person and a more patient mom. It also makes me better equipped to engage politically. We can’t fight for equal pay, racial equity in our justice system, or better healthcare for all if we’re exhausted all the time.  


I started to interact more with my close friends and family through WhatsApp, read books, eat healthier, and exercise moreDespite not being successful at potty training and having only a few conversations about racial justice, was proud. 


Resources aren’t available for everyone. 


As a fluent English speaker, consider myself lucky. Critical Spanish-language or culturally relevant COVID-19 resources for Latinx parents and families are almost non-existentThankfully, national organizations such as the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULACoffer pertinent COVID-19 information and resources. The Child Mind Institute is providing a guide in English and Spanish for parents about coping with COVID-19 and the Hope Center for Wellness, a multicultural and bilingual mental health practice focused on holistic healingconducts live panels in Spanish via Facebook to provide information and guidance to Latinx communities on parenting and COVID-19, among other mental health issues.  


I am grateful for the solo time with my children, but I am happy to be back working at Minerva with our growing team of Goddesses. Now, am even more committed to advocate for equity and create more content designed for marginalized communities.  


Best of luck to all the parents starting this new school year! 

About The Author

Minerva Strategies

Minerva Strategies

The Minerva team has decades of experience working with nonprofits, foundations, and values-driven companies. Minerva also partners with experts—trusted designers, web developers, global communications professionals, and others—who share our excitement for creating positive social change. Through these partnerships, we can build a team that is tailored to your needs. Learn more about who we are or what we do.