Topic: Is parenting during the workday here to stay?
Before the pandemic, a typical day for Jennifer Jacoby meant getting up early to drop her then-1-year-old daughter, Sage, at day care before commuting to her office in Washington, D.C. A lawyer with the nonprofit Center for Reproductive Rights, Jacoby spent her days in strategy sessions in conference rooms and in meetings with lawmakers on the Hill, crafting legislation to protect maternal health rights. As a single mom, it was on Jacoby to leave the office in time to pick up Sage, get home for dinner and bedtime, and then work some more. Get up the next day and do it all over again.
And then, in March 2020, things closed. Public spaces, Metro stations, her office. Sage’s day care.
Work continued. Jacoby’s organization moved quickly to enact flexible policies, including no-meeting Fridays, organization-wide mental health days every other Friday, and an open-ended COVID-19-related leave policy. Jacoby uses her leave to spend time with her daughter, while others use it for mental health and self-care or to care for a loved one. Jacoby’s work environment allows her to parent and work at the same time: On a recent morning video call with maternal rights advocates from outside the Center, Jacoby made bran muffins while Sage sat in front of the camera, occasionally adding her voice to the conversation.
“On team meetings — we have many — my colleagues are so incredible. They’ll change their Zoom backgrounds to sea turtles and puppies to entertain Sage. And she loves it,” says Jacoby. “My day-to-day would look really different if I didn’t have the work family that I do.”
For many people, the pandemic is forcing one of the biggest and swiftest shifts in work in recent history. Companies that had no remote working policies now have no physical offices. “Working hours” is a phrase that is losing its meaning. At the same time, the closure of in-person school and child care facilities has made children and their needs visible in ways they weren’t before: We can no longer pretend that children don’t exist when we’re at work.
Topic Discussed: Is parenting during the workday here to stay?