How to Solve Summer Stress for Working Parents

While summer usually conjures thoughts of relaxation, fun in the sun and vacations, the reality for working parents is something much different. As a working parent, while you’re still juggling your everyday personal and professional responsibilities, the new season brings new challenges.

Handling the end of the school year and final exams, finding reliable summer care, organizing various schedules, managing gaps in care coverage, budgeting for the cost of summer care and more…It can be a minefield of stress for your employees in normal times. Then with the added challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year is even more stressful.

According to a Center for American Progress survey:

  • Parents face barriers to securing care for their children, with 3 in 4 respondents reporting at least some difficulty finding child care during the summer.
  • Cost is a common barrier to securing child care, with more than half of respondents reporting that paying for child care is a significant challenge.
  • In 57% of families surveyed, a lack of child care means that at least one parent plans to make a job change that will result in reduced income.

Additionally, CAP estimated a typical family of four could expect to pay more than $3,000 for summer programs, 20% of the family’s take-home pay for the entire summer.

This increase in stress can lead to disruptions in productivity, engagement, morale and even increased absenteeism. In fact, a Colonial Life study of full-time U.S. employees found that workers who are disengaged or unproductive because of stress are costing employers billions of dollars each week.

Then add this year’s unique challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic – summer camps cancelled, the school year ending earlier, concerns over student’s learning loss, caregivers suddenly not available due to illness or otherwise and so on. It’s clear that parents are facing more logistical and financial struggles than ever before.

What Are Employees Looking For?
We’re seeing these needs from our members in real-time right now. Here are just a few real requests we’ve received from our members as summer has approached:

  • A member was looking for day trips and recreational/educational family activities for the entire summer. She explained that as her and her husband both work full-time with no extended family close by, she was under increased pressure between work and filling the time for her two children over the summer. While many recreational activities in their area were closed due to the virus, we were able to successfully refer several activities including local state parks and swimming options.
  • As her kids were starting summer break, a member called for help with finding at home activities to keep them busy. Due to the pandemic she was concerned about sending them to an in-person camp and wanted to see if there are any virtual summer camps as well as other online activities and ideas for activities they can do at home. We provided options for virtual camps and online activities that are appropriate for the children’s ages.
  • A member called looking for academic resources for her children in 5th and 7th grades. She wanted the kids to still be academically engaged once school is out for the summer. She wanted a program that could come to her house for help with math, writing and English. We located and referred four tutors in her area that met her criteria and budget.
  • As an essential worker, a member called looking for camps and centers for his son to attend while he was at work during the week and possibly on weekends. His son had attended two different camps the previous summer to fill up the gaps in care, and really enjoyed them, but they are both closed this year. He was also looking for any discounts available to essential workers or subsidies. We found five resources for camps and centers, as well as the information for their child care subsidy locally, and an additional subsidy specifically for essential workers.
  • A member’s four-year old son has been home schooled during the pandemic and she called looking for help finding summer activities where he can interact with other kids. She was hoping for either low-cost or free activities close to her home. We referred local options for activities such as swimming and karate that are predicted to be open this summer.
  • As her son prepared to take the ACT’s, a member called looking for help finding ACT tutors and locating testing sites in two different locations because she was unsure where he will be over the summer. We provided three tutoring services that offered online/virtual tutoring during the pandemic, as well as a list of upcoming ACT testing locations.

What Can Employers Do

What Can Employers Do
With all this in mind, top employers can take this opportunity to evaluate what support programs they can implement or promote to help their workforce, including:

Backup Child Care
From gaps between school and summer programs to caregiver vacations and more, many parents will struggle to find reliable temporary care this summer, so they don’t have to miss work. Offering company subsidized backup care will help working parents continue to remain focused and productive, knowing their children are being cared for by either trusted caregivers they know or vetted care providers.

Work-Life Support
Researching a patchwork of activities to fill the summer months can be time-consuming and stressful. Furthermore, having to juggle schedules, drop-off and pickup times, finding and vetting various programs, camps, activities and so on can feel next to impossible for working parents. Offering Work-Life programs to do the time-consuming research will save employees stress, money and time.

Financial Wellness Programs
As families plan, budget and save for summer care, activities and more, managing their finances can become increasingly stressful. In addition, this year they may also be dealing with the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Now more than ever it’s vital that employees receive the financial guidance and tools necessary to maximize their financial wellness and minimize the financial impact of the pandemic.

Tutoring & Academic Resources
To support parents struggling to help with their kids’ schoolwork, from studying for final exams to preventing summer slide and more, employers can provide academic programs that offer access to professional tutors and resources like test prep, self-study guides and online lessons. This support can also ease working parent’s stress as they help their children learn from home.

Emotional Health Support
In the face of all this demand, working parents may find themselves stretched too thin, experiencing increased stress levels, anxiety and emotional health concerns. Employers can offer Employee Assistance Programs so employees have somewhere to turn to help manage these emotions. Employers can also implement programs that offer informative emotional health resources and tools.

Employee Discounts
Summer can bring lots of added expenses, which may leave employees stressed and struggling to budget things like summer care, activities, travel, entertainment and more. Offering employees an easy to access, complimentary discount program that can help them save is a great way employers can alleviate some of their financial burden.

Although employers can’t completely relieve the challenges their employees are facing, they are able to offer high-impact benefits that can go a long way to remove some of the burdens they face and in turn improve productivity, engagement and morale.

LifeCare offers services that are uniquely designed to support the needs of working parents and their families so they can be more productive and engaged at work. If you’d like to learn about how we can help you implement some of these support programs, contact us or call us at 866-675-3751.