The Pandemic Rollercoaster for Working Parents

Published: 08/02/2021

In April 2020, when myTamarin first spoke to working parents, and published our white paper, WFH with no childcare during CV-19: Parents are not okay we could see that the first lockdown in the UK had triggered an adrenaline fuelled response. 

By December 2020 we were firmly strapped into the Covid rollercoaster of vaccine based optimism, then crashing back down to earth with changes in advice around Christmas gatherings, school reopenings and closed borders. 


“There is a mental health and burnout crisis just around the corner in 2021. In 2020, we survived on adrenalin.”

Now, schools will be closed until March 2021 and the vaccine distribution programme is, well, let’s just call it - uncertain. The Government is being heavily criticised for its response to the pandemic - not least publishing (then withdrawing) some very lazy images of how they think women are spending their time at home.

As managers and business owners, employers and employees, we acknowledge the huge adjustments that employers are making for their workforce. 

However, working parents are bearing a large economic and social burden during this period, and research shows that working mothers are going to be hit the hardest, in their wallets and their career progression.

“The Zoom curtains fall and we have to admit it: we are broken.”

  • Despite the unprecedented levels of flexibility offered, parents need additional support
  • It became apparent that flexibility often meant working parents (and disproportionately, working mothers) had to cut hours or take holiday
  • Beyond flexibility, employers need to offer extra support and flexibility to retain talent, and protect the bottom line
  • Government needs to step up. Tax allowances to encourage all employers to keep positions open after furlough, with explicit protection for working parents or those with care responsibilities 
  • Stable and permanent childcare solutions are the only way we can all get back to work

myTamarin has launched a new corporate product, answering parents’ wish that employers transfer benefits to employees so they can choose the way that they use them. Because just figuring out how to firefight at home is hard enough!

Working parents have been waking up most mornings feeling like they don’t know which hat to put on: teacher, parent, colleague. So how are we all getting through it? Really, how the hell are we getting through it?!

Based on our research, we found that working parents got through 2020 by showing resilience, creativity and determination. All of this chimed with our own, lived experience of the pandemic. As did the ways they coped: they got through it by having flexible and empathetic employers. They got through 2020 by leaning in, to work and to family life

But scratch the surface, and it’s a different story. We are beginning to wonder if we might run out of resilience, or patience well before we run out of printer ink.

Because remote working isn’t about the cute Zoom moments when one of our children does a cartwheel in the background or interrupts us in a piece of complex work, so that we can help them with their volcano project.  It’s getting more crash and burn than phonics sheets.

As more data suggests that the mental health cricis of the pandemic will impact adults and young people alike - and that parental burnout is on the rise - now is the time for employers to act to protect and support their employees. This will help those working parents facing burnout or supporting a family member struggling at home. 

Not only that, but there is an emerging crisis in the progress of women in the workplace. If mothers haven’t managed to get time at home to educate their children, they have taken paid and unpaid leave, gone part-time or left their jobs. All of which will have an impact on their progress in the workplace, their remuneration and benefits. 

However, as we go into 2021, we know that parents are conscious of the shrinking economy and don't want to be seen as the weakest link. It’s hard to have an honest conversation with your boss if redundancies are in the offing. We all know that it’s impossible to work from home whilst managing children. 

It’s unsustainable - and we need employers and the Government to step up. 

You can read the full study here: The Pandemic Rollercoaster for Working Parents.

For more information on what myTamarin can do to help parents in your workforce, get in touch: or download our corporate brochure.

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