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Until now, parents have been relatively calm about COVID-19 because it seems to be sparing the young. But since schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and more started closing, and President Trump declared a National Emergency, parent concern is spiking and U.S. moms and dads are bracing for the worst.
our site surveyed over 1,200 of its U.S. parents on March 11 to 13, 2020 and found that of the 99 percent who are aware of the coronavirus (COVID-19), 70 percent have already seen some disruption to their lives, and 88 percent expect many more impacts to come. Parents are worried about everything from diaper shortages to paycheck losses and staving off boredom to fighting over WiFi signals.
Coronavirus to hit every aspect of family life
While moms and dads across the U.S. have already dealt with their share of changing plans and stock-market volatility, families see no end in sight. They’re expecting COVID-19 to disrupt:
- Availability of basic supplies
- Daycares and preschools
- K-12 schools
- Work locations
- Work shifts
- Medical appointments
- Family and kid activities
- Travel, vacations, and planned events
Of the parents who responded to the survey, 40 percent expect shortages of basic supplies to become an issue, more than 33 percent expect childcare snafus, and more than 57 percent expect to work or have a partner work from home. Speaking of WFH, one in four parents expect WiFi signal fights because they'll both be clocking in from the living room.
Gen X and Gen Z parents react differently to COVID-19
The our site survey uncovered different attitudes and approaches to the coronavirus crisis between older Gen X parents, and their younger Gen Z and Millennial counterparts. "Generally speaking, Gen X parents seem to be taking a more long-term approach to prep – buying cold and flu medicine, making childcare contingency plans, teaching sanitary habits to their children, and practicing social distance,” says Sarah Ryan, BabyCenter's director of research. "While Millennials are more likely to be stocking up on diapers and formula, having food delivered and shopping online or in club stores. Although least likely to be stressed about the pandemic, Gen Z is preparing by sanitizing their homes and tech devices and making the most of their money by shopping at Walmart and bargain retailers."
Changes to basic healthcare top of mind
It makes sense that a global pandemic would have parents thinking about their families' health. But concern varies depending on where people live. If parents live in an area where COVID-19 is spreading, they're worried. But if they feel coronavirus is happening elsewhere, they're 42 percent less likely to be concerned. No matter where they live, though, all parents expect basic healthcare disruptions, including:
- Medicine shortages
- Changing medical appointments
- Observing a 14-day quarantine
Conversation in the our site Community reveals moms are worried about their doctor appointments falling through the cracks as the system is overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Expecting moms are scared to go into potentially contaminated healthcare facilities for tests, and parents with small children are questioning whether they should postpone well-child visits.
While the virus is having a chilling effect on some parents’ desire to seek face-to-face medical care, it’s driving millions online for help. More than 30 percent are already looking for alternative ways to manage a minor health issue for their family so they can avoid visiting the doctor’s office.
Families feel prepared financially
One bright spot in the our site survey: The vast majority of parents (more than 85 percent) are feeling some security in their jobs. So far, only 13 percent of first-time parents and 14 percent of experienced parents expect to lose or have their job be at risk. "There will be more financial impacts down the road, though, as 36 percent of parents expect to or are currently losing shifts, or are unable to go to work," Ryan adds.
Moms and dads are also optimistic that the majority of losses in the stock market are over. The drop stung – more than 24 percent say they may have lost money – but only 10 percent expect further declines. Another reassuring sign about young family finances: More than 65 percent of moms and dads surveyed say they would have no problem paying an unexpected $500 bill.
our site understands that the coronavirus pandemic is an evolving story and that your questions will change over time. We'll continue asking moms and dads in our Community what they want to know, and we'll get the answers from experts to keep them – and you – informed and supported.
our site News & Analysis is an assessment of recent news designed to cut through the hype and get you what you need to know.