School Holidays Are Particularly Challenging for Working Parents

  • Throughout the pandemic, childcare remains a major challenge.
  • School holidays are particularly tough on working parents.

Presidents' Day is meant to honor our country's greatest leaders. This year, it also represents another day off from school when parents are already stretched to the limit, juggling work and family obligations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly one year since the Covid-19 outbreak began, mothers and fathers who are currently working remotely increasingly are struggling.

Now, roughly half of employed parents with children under age 12 said it has been difficult to handle childcare responsibilities, up from 38% last March, according to a recent report by the Pew Research Center. 

"If anything, parents with young children say it's more difficult now than it was in those first crazy few weeks," said Ruth Igielnik, a senior researcher at Pew.

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For freelance photographer and writer Mackenzie Ryan, 33, the holidays are her busiest time.

And yet, the Seattle mother of three children, ages 3, 6 and 12, must also manage all of the family responsibilities at home, while her husband is at work.  

"Without childcare, a holiday like Presidents' Day becomes unbearable."

Studies show balancing work and family is even harder for parents of very young children. Parents who are telecommuting with at least one child who is preschool age or younger are more likely than those with only school-age children to say they must manage at least some childcare responsibilities while also working, Pew found.

A separate report by Country Financial found that roughly 1 in 5 parents said that they had to change or reduce work hours due to shifts in school or child care as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Another 7% had to leave a job altogether.

Although the burden falls on both parents, mothers are more likely to take on the lion's share of the responsibilities at home, Pew also found. As a result, 54% of working moms said they felt like they could not give 100% at work, compared to 43% of working dads.

Mothers were also more likely than fathers to say they needed to reduce their work hours or take a leave from work. And, they were more likely to say they were treated as if they weren't committed to their careers, got passed over for a promotion or had to turn one down due to the current circumstances.

To address the ongoing challenges, lawmakers are debating changes to the child tax credit in the next comprehensive relief package.

The Democrats' proposal provides for monthly payments to help parents care for children. 

The full credit — $3,600 per child under age 6, and $3,000 per child for older minors — would be available to individuals with up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income, heads of household with up to $112,500 and joint filers with up to $150,000, based on 2019 or 2020 tax filing information. It would phase out at $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for joint filers.

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