Caregiving Testimonials

I will be able to manage work and caregiving if nobody comes down with COVID-19 in my babysitting circle OR at [my child’s] preschool. I am the one who drops the kids off and picks them up, does all the babysitting coordinating, and holds the burden of making sure the children are fed and cared for in my house. I feel the burden of needing to be everything for my students and my family, but in the process, I might just break down. It isn't the teaching, it is coordinating everybody else's needs.

Lecturer at UW-Eau Claire, Barron County

I'm terrified, honestly. Our daycare closed for a while in the spring, and when it reopened, they were prioritizing children of healthcare workers and other essential workers. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to go back, and I wasn't sure if I wanted him to go back, honestly. It feels counter-intuitive to stay home as a family and implement so many distancing measures when I'm sending him to a cesspool of kiddo germs. I'm not very confident in my knowledge of transmission and carrier rates in kids, but it's hard to imagine that we aren't welcoming the germs of all those families into our home by allowing him to attend. However, without daycare, I really won't be able to work.

Anonymous UW-Stevens Point professor

This spring, I ended up helping the kids the most during the day, then after we put them to bed, I’d do a lot of my work from 7:30pm until 10:30 or 11 pm. This was pretty rough, as I’m not a night person...Given how the spring went, I’m guessing this is going to be pretty overwhelming and exhausting...I’m hoping that I can get enough work done over the summer so that my classes will be well prepped before the school year starts. This is a little hard, though, because all of my childcare was canceled over the summer.

Anonymous UW System Faculty Member

I still don't know what we are doing for childcare and how we will manage. My husband and I are going to try to alternate days working and watching/home-schooling the kids like we did last spring, including working on nights and the weekends. But I don't really know if that will work and how we will manage that for a whole semester. I will be lucky to have any "large" chunks of uninterrupted time to work/focus.

Anonymous UW-La Crosse employee

I am the primary caregiving parent and the kids go to me first for basically anything...I mean, we’ll make it work. But I already know from experience that I will not get as much done. Research has been out of the question since spring. There’s just no time/energy. I can put out daily fires re: teaching and service, but research requires more time than I can give it right now.

Anonymous UW System Faculty Member

I will be able to stay home with my daughters to work and coordinate their online learning on Wednesdays without too much hassle. ... so that is the plan and it looks manageable, as long as it doesn't change. I have very little backup plan for if/when school or afterschool schedules change or if the girls have to stay home sick, which seems very likely at some point. My typical backup plan is for grandparents to watch the girls, but we are not willing to take that risk right now. My husband has a limited number of sick days that he could use if I need to physically come to campus. I could switch my labs and seminar to online only, if I had to. The flexibility that the university has given us to deliver our classes as we choose/need has been essential to being able to manage this childcare issue and I really appreciate it.

Anonymous UW-Stevens Point Employee

The weekends are the best time for me to get work done for a longer period without interruption.

Anonymous UW System Faculty Member

Although our kids' school is planning on starting F2F full time, my primary concerns are that:
• they could go online at any time
• although my partner can help, the kids often look to me for academic help because I have more experience in educating young people
• the children will get Covid and I will need to manage my work, caregiving, and extra precautions to keep myself, my partner, and my other kids safe
• that I will get Covid and be unable to care for my kids

Anonymous UW-La Crosse Employee

Right now, I am honestly very afraid that I will be struggling with the balance of academics and caregiving…My biggest worry is that I will struggle with the workload of student teaching that I bring home after school is over and balancing time with my daughter and providing her with the care she needs and the love that she deserves…It would feel almost impossible to get through the semester if they were not understanding of my occasional mistake or exhaustion.

If the college were to shut down from a COVID-19 outbreak, my daughter's daycare would also shut down. It is very stressful to think about what I would have to do or where my daughter would end up going for care if that were to happen. Even if I will be student teaching full-time virtually, I cannot just keep her at home with me because I will be teaching from home.

UW-Madison student

I feel lucky that my kids are old enough and motivated enough to get their school work done while I sit nearby focused on my own work. Even so, they noticed how busy and distracted I was in the spring and I’m concerned about the balance for the next academic year.
In order to juggle things, I sleep less—not a healthy strategy. What I mean is that I often wake up at 4am during the academic year (even pre-COVID) to be able to get work done before kids are up.

Anonymous (UWSP) employee

“I have had a lot of anxiety around people expecting me to be readily available which is not realistic when trying to work from home with children...My goal for the upcoming year is to work within the constrictions of my job to ensure my kids are safe; whatever that ends up looking like I will have to make it work. I think it's going to be very hard and having already experienced a lot of frustration and unmet expectations after working from home with two small children from March to May I am dreading everything about the upcoming year."

Anonymous, UW-Steven's Point Staff Member

If daycare closes, we will have to do what we’ve been doing this summer: planning our days in one to two hour chunks of time where one of us is caretaking and the other is working. This is dependent on meeting schedules. We have also set up child swapping where we take kids one day a week to have two other days where the others have the kids. This has been sporadic and we’ve only been able to have three weeks total this summer where that arrangement has been possible. As a backup we have neighbors who have been really good at social distancing and sometimes we do half days where our kid goes over there and then their kids come over here.

Anonymous UW-La Crosse employee

“One thing I can suggest to help balance work and caregiving would be a reduced course load. UWM has mostly a 2-2 load, as opposed to our 4-4. Many of us [redacted] are also taking on book projects and other related research in-line with R-1 standards. The workload issue is something that should be addressed in any given year, but with the wrench that COVID throws into our lives today it is ever more important to consider. My concern is not only being able to reserve time for research, but also prepping courses and grading. With limited working hours when one is a fulltime caregiver, everything is impacted including teaching, research, and service.

Anonymous UW System Faculty Member

What support do you anticipate needing to make managing work and caregiving feasible?

“Just being flexible in what time I can work.  not the typical 8-4 job”
–Anonymous UW System Staff Member

“Not really sure other than the continued work flexibility.  Also an understanding that this academic year is about survival at work.  This is not the year to be expecting new programs and initiatives (outside of what we have needed to create for COVID plans).”
–Anonymous UW System Staff Member

“I think we need folks to shift their mindset to truly embrace that we are surviving in a pandemic. I keep hearing the message that we need to make our courses the highest quality for our students, to be on campus, to be flexible. I don’t hear any discussion about taking care of faculty or staff on campus, acknowledging that many of us have children that are going to be a large part of our working days.”
–Anonymous UW-La Crosse employee

“If daycares close, I will need extra flexibility in grading timelines and need support finding more efficient ways to assess my students.”
–Anonymous UW-Stevens Point professor

“I would like the flexibility to go online with my class when needed depending on the health needs of my family. We are starting to see larger COVID-19 outbreak numbers in Barron County, so it is likely that it will hit my church, social, and family circles in the fall. This will break my babysitting network. If preschool shuts down, I also have my four-year-old to coordinate child care for at the last minute.”
–Anonymous Lecturer at UW-Eau Claire, Barron County

“I need my job to realize that I and most others will not be as able to work this semester as in the past, that it will be impossible to truly separate work and home life. It would be great for support to include a recognition that service and research won’t occur, and shouldn’t occur, this semester/year.”
–Anonymous UW-Stevens Point employee

What do you think a typical day or week will look like?

“6:30 a.m. Get up/dressed etc.. Get kids up/ready for school. Make kids’ lunches…
Work for 2-3  hours from home with interruptions from toddler every 5-10 minutes.
Switch care giver duties with partner.
Teach and do other duties at my office for 2-4 hours.
Swap care give duties with partner who has picked up kids from school in 2 shifts.
Make supper/attend to kids’ needs/clean up house, etc..
Put younger kids to bed 49000 times.
Work for 2-4 hours with only small interruptions.
Collapse in bed around midnight/1:00 a.m.”
— Anonymous UW System Faculty Member

“I have no idea! There is so much uncertainty. I have more dread than ever for school, and I miss my typical excitement. :(”
— Anonymous UW-Stevens Point professor

“It will be working for an hour here or there trying to get what absolutely needs to get done but not nearly accomplishing enough to feel in control of the work. Having to step down from responsibilities, leaving students frustrated with delays in grading, lack of responsivity…It will be getting up in the morning and convincing our child to watch two hours of television in the morning (even though she doesn’t really care to watch it anymore) so we can both get caught up on emails. Then we’ll determine who has a meeting and who does not or who needs the next two hours to work. The other will try to entertain a child who has no sibling and sporadic interactions with peers…After lunch, we’ll switch out on work and play two more times…Whoever is not on bedtime duty will go back to work until 10 or so, and then we’ll go to bed and start all over again.”
Anonymous UW-La Crosse employee

“I hope to be able to continue working “normal” (7am – 5pm) hours M – F. However, for the first three months of the pandemic, I worked from home during the day, then came to the lab nights/weekends. It was exhausting and I never got to see my spouse. At least I was home during the day to support my child with online schooling as needed.”
–Anonymous UW-Stevens Point staff member

What variables do you need to consider to make your work/caregiving plans?

“I need to consider the safety of sending my child with special dietary needs to multiple other parents’ houses versus having one sitter/tutor every day. I need to consider what will happen if I am not able to work 4 ten hour days and just need to use PTO or take unpaid time off. I need to consider what will happen if I use up my COVID-19 leave on childcare and then get sick or have to care for sick kids, wiping out my sick leave bank.”
–Anonymous UW-Steven’s Point Staff Member

“If our kid is home this semester, it is not clear how feasible this summer arrangement will be. It’s barely allowed us to work the amount of time we need to get our work done. In the fall it will be a lot more work and the need for more hours. Will we hire a student? Can we trust that student is being safe and taking precautions? Will we just have to try to piece it together with care when we can? No matter what there will be a lot of evening and weekend work hours.”
–Anonymous UW-La Crosse employee

“If daycare closes, I’m not sure what I will do. We don’t have family close by, and I’d feel strange about asking grandparents to watch our toddler if we’re in the middle of an outbreak.”
–Anonymous UW-Stevens Point professor

Do you perceive that you will be able to manage work and caregiving? Why or why not?

“No. It is completely unrealistic to expect that people will be able to parent and school their children and also work full time. My spouse and I are lucky that we can both work from home but our lighter schedules in the summer have been barely manageable. I don’t believe the day care center will stay open and other day care options are in short supply in this area. So when the child care center on campus closes, we’ll have a kid at home 24/7 again who needs constant attention. Even if we do have some arrangements, it requires that we take at least two days out of our work week to care for multiple children in order to get a few free days.

Another reason is that I haven’t had enough time this summer to prep my courses for the fall. While I’ve taught these courses for many years, I have to change them all due to the new models of delivery. It’s an enormous amount of work. I really need to be able to have all the classes prepped and online before the fall starts but that will not likely happen due to the constraints of my work week now. So I’ll be likely scrambling to keep my course up to date with uploading content, grading, answering student concerns. And this is just the teaching part of my job. I’ve totally given up on my research projects right now and can barely complete my service requirements.”
–Anonymous UW-La Crosse employee

“I will be able to manage it because of my situation with my husband. Without him, I absolutely would not be able to. But ‘managing it’ is certainly different from doing it well. We’ll muddle through, but it won’t be easy, especially emotionally.”
–Anonymous UW-La Crosse employee