With the long-awaited reopening of childcare options remaining effectively closed for the foreseeable future, many parents have resorted to ad-hoc daycare, babysitting and camps for their kids.
A lot of strange things have popped up on my Facebook feed since COVID-19 hit us (like a continuous wave of unrelenting death bricks…sorry to be dramatic). At first, it was Zoom winning the virtual war on how to entertain and educate our children safely at home. My group message boards were full of opportunities for STEM education from your kitchen and music lessons in your bedroom. It was great! (sort of).
Now that lockdown is fading into ‘phased unlocking’ the enthusiasm for Zoom is fading as well and it’s being replaced by new ideas for small-group and semi-socially distanced childcare. Yesterday I saw a Facebook post asking who had a backyard swimming pool they would be willing to ‘rent out’ to a nanny-share for an hour each week. The day before I got an email about some neighborhood high schoolers who would be willing to create ‘camp’ in a backyard for the kids of a few neighbors or cousins who were already seeing each other.
Activities for this ‘camp’ included – basketball, roller hockey, skateboarding and hikes. It sounded kind of fun…and tempting. As a mom of two little boys who I’ve been trying to educate and entertain on my own with little more than a coffee break in three months I totally see the appeal of this. For many parents, this might not just be tempting but necessary as they’re called back to the office or workplace without any of their normal options for childcare available. At first, I was uplifted by the ingenuity of these ideas and the can-do spirit of those trying to fill the gap during these hard times. The more I thought about it though, the more I saw only RED FLAGS.
What at first looks like a thoughtful, even nostalgic, neighborly solution to a pandemic crisis upon closer inspection is a totally unregulated, uninsured, no-safety-net idea that could put kids at risk. Should we really be willing to swap an accredited summer camp that’s gone through multiple safety inspections with specific and tested protocols in place and trained staff for highschoolers who sent out an email? I’m a Jewish mom so of course, I worry, but I really worry about the kids who are too young to speak up for themselves, or even speak at all who are being left in the care of individuals without proper training or background checks.
My agenda isn’t fear-mongering, but it is instigating. I want parents to demand that schools and camps and daycares find a way to reopen safely no matter the financial costs. I am demanding that this should be the top priority of our government and school systems. We must figure out a way to open these institutions safely because staying closed when parents go back to work is fundamentally a dangerous plan.
Marion Haberman is a writer and content creator for her YouTube/MyJewishMommyLife channel and Instagram @MyJewishMommyLife page where she shares her experience living a meaning-FULL Jewish family life. Marion is currently writing a book on Judaism and pregnancy titled ‘Expecting Jewish!’ She is also a professional social media consultant and web and television writer for Discovery Channel, NOAA and NatGeo and has an MBA from Georgetown University.