As covid restrictions lift ‘life is returning to normal except for parents of kids under 5’

Missing from most of the dialogue around mask mandates expiring in even the bluest states is the fact that children under five still can’t be vaccinated. While coronavirus statistically causes milder illness in children, it’s impossible to predict how it will affect an individual child. Nearly 1,000 children under 18 in the US have died of covid, countless more have been hospitalized and we do not yet know how long covid affects children. Studies shows that children who get covid are at greater risk for Type 1 diabetes and we know long covid comes with the risk of blood clots, strokes, neurological issues and more.

The Washington Post has a new article featuring profiles of parents of children under five. This comes after the announcement of the FDA delaying the vaccine for this age group. The earliest time frame for EUA of the Pfizer vaccine for children under five is now mid April. Many parents are juggling careers outside the home with the expense and risk of daycare and frequent school closings. I can’t imagine the pressure they’re under. Here’s some of that story and I’m only quoting one parent. There’s much more at the source.

Parents of children younger than 5 say they feel forgotten and left behind, watching others reclaim normalcy while they stay home with kids who are too young to be vaccinated and have to quarantine when there is an exposure to the coronavirus at day care or school.

“The rest of the world has moved on, and they are not able to do so safely,” said Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Parents are now dealing with another twist in a two-year roller-coaster ride after a coronavirus vaccine for the youngest children was further delayed this month. The Food and Drug Administration said it would wait to make a decision on authorizing the vaccine until data on a third dose becomes available — opening up a host of new questions and concerns.

Benjamin Huffman Pleasant Hill, CA: Two years into the pandemic, Huffman said he feels worse than he did at the start, living in “absolute chaos” trying to protect his 1- and 3-year-old sons from the virus.

“I never know if I’m going to be at home on a given day, at work on a given day, taking a child to the hospital on a given day, dealing with a school closure on a given day,” he said. “And then sometimes I find out halfway through the day that it’s going to be different than I thought it would be.”

Huffman, 37, a therapist for Contra Costa County, said that while his children’s day care is taking covid-19 more seriously — which he commends — elsewhere it seems to be the opposite. Local restrictions are being lifted, and Huffman said he has to return to the office, giving him less flexibility than with remote work.

“Basically, life is returning to normal for everyone except for parents of kids under 5,” he said.

[From The Washington Post]

As someone who works from home and has just one teenager, this was eye opening to me. My heart goes out to parents who are seeing people act like things are back to normal while their children are still vulnerable and unable to be vaccinated. I’m also so sorry that the vaccines have been delayed. I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be.

Photos credit: Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

37 Responses to “As covid restrictions lift ‘life is returning to normal except for parents of kids under 5’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. IShouldBeWorking says:

    I have two under five and this is breaking us. I feel like the world has given up on my kids and I’m constantly wondering if I can work on a given day with all the daycare protocols. I catch hell every week from family and friends who just don’t get why we are still being cautious. My whole county has given up on masks. Thankfully their daycare is still masking, but who knows how long they will continue with all the mandates being lifted.

    The only bright spot is my oldest turns five in a few weeks and I already have her signed up for her first vaccine the day after her birthday. But I still have to worry about my two year old.

    I’m so tired. And angry.

    • HelloDolly! says:

      I am so sorry to hear of your struggles–I am in the same boat (3 year old). The daycare is such an issue.

      Pre-pandemic, for example, we had access to affordable childcare through my work. However, because of COVID, my work shut their childcare, and we have had to pay double the cost we projected for childcare. It’s like we have an extra expensive car payment that we didn’t anticipate! Many families could not afford that. We aren’t sure we can have a second child because of the extra costs and inflation, honestly.

      • IShouldBeWorking says:

        Thank you HelloDolly! and solidarity to you too. That’s awful to have to shoulder those kind of extra costs.

        We decided not to have a third child, which we both wanted, and it’s all due to fallout from covid — we waited to see if things would improve and now I’m concerned about my age, I now have a crazy amount of health anxiety having had a newborn at the beginning of all of this, and I frankly don’t want to bring another child into this world after seeing how little society cares about working parents, anyone vulnerable, small kids, healthcare/service workers, or really anyone that is not themselves.

        I truly hope you are able to find a way if you want another child. This whole thing just sucks.

    • Millennial says:

      Lots of solidarity on this front. Our 3yo has already caught Covid (at daycare) but it’s the not knowing if tomorrow your daycare will suddenly shut down for two weeks. I’m lucky to be able to work from home if I have to, but not everyone has the luxury.

      • Libby says:

        I feel this so much! My almost 3 year old is in daycare and they still mask, thank goodness, but the real stress for us has been childcare if he is exposed (2 weeks out, no test to return policy) or a kid/teacher gets it in his class (2 weeks out, no test to return policy). On one hand I appreciate the strict rules at daycare and I feel he is safe at school but on the other hand it feels like society and my work are just like “whatever, you’re on your own” when classes get shut down.

  2. Karlie says:

    I have two under 5 and live in an area that still has a mask mandate, but will be lifting it soon. Now I’m faced with what the rest of the US has been dealing with, which is, how comfortable do I feel taking the kids out when no one else has been masking? It really does feel so defeating to know everyone just shrugged the shoulders and forgot about kids under 5. I’m definitely a more selfish, cold person after this experience. If no one else if going to look out for others, why should I?

    And the “it doesn’t affect kids under 5” crowd can stop. Because A.) it absolutely impacts the day-to-day of childcare and work and decision making and constant risk assessment and mental health of parents and kids B.) As someone whose had a stillborn baby, it doesn’t really matter the odds when you were in that .05 percent. Your kid is still dead (or suffering long covid, or whatever. Scarlett Fever lead to long term deafness in some kids, I believe. We don’t know enough about COVID yet).

    • Lurker25 says:

      I’m the only person masking at work. It’s especially notable on event days when about a hundred people pour through, no masks.
      My kid just made vax cut off and is double vaxxed but his school, which was so amazingly careful and strict about covid from the beginning, is about to lift mask mandate. Bc one goddamn parent started a petition and with CDC dropping the rules, the school had to medical grounds anymore. Like most kids, mine is fine with wearing masks and will continue to wear one. Even if that means MASKS are the new normal for us people living with these “gotta live my life shrug death is the new normal” types.
      I get excellent, NOT FAKE nf94 masks from Kollecte (not a typo. Kollecte). It’s company that imports directly from Korea to mainly Korean-American buyers. Things sell out quickly but if you sign up for notifications, they restock often. highly recommend for kids sizes. My kid has a tiny face and loves loves loves the Kf80s I got with stretchy ear loops that you can cut to adjust. (Miima brand) They have lots of kf94s in toddler sizes in white and some prints but my fashionista only wants black, hence the Kf80.
      A little pricey but if you store in a paper bag and rotate, you can use them for 5-10 wears unless they get wet/food/etc.
      I highly recommend. So legit they REFUNDED me $ on an item because *other* customers had complained. I hadn’t even received it yet. They cancelled it from my order and refunded me the $ because they didn’t want to sell bad product ( other customers had said stitching was different.)

      Anyway tldr;
      1) my family will mask indoors until people stop dying of this.
      2) Kollecte is great source for non-fake high filtration masks
      3) masking works: despite working/school with idiots testing positive constantly, none of us tested positive ever.

  3. Fernanda says:

    Since the beginning of the pandemic almost every government in the world (talking about democratic societies) had failed the kids and parents. Governments prioritized who to protect the most and had chosen the older population. Not saying these folks don’t count, just saying that almost every policy was the most detrimental for the children, of all ages, and their parents. Which brings me to another point, kids cannot vote and parents can hardly find time to work let alone to engage in politics. So, governments chose to leave behind those who don’t bring votes.

  4. Kiera says:

    I have one three yr old and feel hopeless and helpless. Im lucky that I run my own business and can for the most part also work from home but it’s hard. She has daycare three days a week but I never know if they will be open because some parent felt they couldn’t miss work and infected us all with their kid!

    I am terrified every day of taking her out of the house but I have to for my sanity and hers. My husband tries to be here and help but he works crazy hours and even with my mom nearby it’s ducking hard.

    I know I’m lucky because I can work around it all but the emotional and mental toll of it all has worn me down. I’ve had to start taking anxiety meds due to the panic attacks that started last summer.

    I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for people who don’t have the support system and flexible schedule I have. Im thinking of you all and am sending the biggest of hugs.

    • jbones says:

      My youngest is three, we work full time, and it is such a difficult position to be especially when our support systems (grandparents/daycares) are off the table. This pandemic was an assault on working families.

      When I went to get one of many COVID tests last Dec, the nurse sat with me for a little bit just to talk and ask me how I was doing. She extended empathy and care because I was there with three little ones, all getting tested for the 9th time too. She talked about the strain this pandemic has put on parents and she offered me a 800 number to call if I ever felt I was hitting a breaking point. It was above and beyond and my heart was full in that moment.

      Let it out parents, let it out….

  5. Case says:

    Not to mention those of us with underlying medical conditions and/or are immunocompromised. It has been truly eye-opening to experience the eugenics of all of this. As someone with a disability, I’ve never felt more excluded from society (and I’ve felt excluded in many ways throughout my life, trust me).

    It is unreal that we’re still averaging 1.9k deaths per day in the US and are lifting restrictions as though it’s all over before our littlest members of society can even be vaccinated. It is disheartening, to say the least. I’m so exhausted that I’ve honestly gotten to the point of giving up on all the shielding I’ve done so seriously the last two years, because this level of anxiety is not sustainable. It’s pretty clear that the world has given up the fight and this won’t be a truly managed virus for several more years.

    I will never look at my fellow humans the same ever again after this. So much selfishness and coldness toward the most vulnerable populations, as well as the frontline workers trying to keep us afloat. And that’s not the minority — MOST people think and behave this horribly anymore.

    • Hellohello says:

      As a fellow person with a disability, I second everything you said here. 100%.

      The only people that America really supports are the wealthy. Anyone who is not part of the white supremacist patriarchal capitalist work-machine is disposable. That goes for the disabled, parents, children, elderly, working-class…the list goes on. Because this system eschews community care, the most vulnerable are cast aside first when everyone has to stay so focused on taking care of their own.

      • Truthiness says:

        As someone who is long hauling I agree with everything you said. There are more than 20 million of us in the US. Our doctors have no way out of this and if we catch it again it’s either curtains or starting over at square one. I despise anti maskers and anti vaxxers with a fury.

  6. Sue says:

    Yep. Mom of a 6.5 month old here. She’s got some protection because I got vaccinated when I was pregnant and I nursed her, but I don’t know how long that lasts. My husband will take her places where he knows it won’t be busy. I’ll only take her to outdoor places. We still really only circulate in a bubble of close family.
    She starts daycare in a matter of weeks. We purposely planned it out that our combined leave would get her to 8 months before she started daycare, but it’s still nerve wracking.

  7. Tiredmomof2 says:

    I’m still wearing an N95 when I go inside anywhere. My state never had a mask mandate, and my county is full of anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers. I’m going to keep on wearing a mask, bc I don’t trust people around me, which is sad. I think about all the people who can’t be vaccinated, the kids, the immunocompromised, the HCWs, and I can totally wear a mask for them.

    • lucy2 says:

      Same here, I’m wearing a mask for the foreseeable future. Very, very few people around here are. We have a pretty good vaccination rate here, and my county’s covid rate has really, really dropped, but a vaccinated friend just got it, so I’m going to continue taking what precautions I can, for myself and those around me.

  8. Shawna says:

    My husband and I haven’t left quarantine except for teaching once our employer no longer allowed remote instruction. No restaurants, no shopping, only going to the park…. My 2 year old has never been inside anywhere other than our house, the doctor’s, and his grandparents’ house. This is because of the anti-mask state we live in. The one play date we risked ended up in him getting a cold…. We’re trying to juggle full time jobs with no child care help at all. I’m coming apart at the seams. I’ve always thought I was robust mentally and emotionally, but I’ve lost my resilience. And it does seem that no government or employer cares. We have to hide the fact that he’s not in daycare. I have trouble sleeping because my students won’t mask. This has been our decision to mitigate risk (because he was only 4 months old when the pandemic began, so he didn’t have a change to develop his immune system), and I stand by it, but I feel permanently changed for the worse.

    • Soapboxpudding says:

      You ARE robust mentally and emotionally and you are living through extraordinarily challenging times. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this with little support, personally and governmentally. My BFF lives in PA and is having a similar experience with her asthmatic four year old. Living in Ottawa feels like a different planet with mask mandates and high compliance. You are doing the best you can given extremely challenging circumstances.

  9. Imara219 says:

    I mean my family have already discussed we are still wearing our masks when out in public. My 4 yo son has been wearing a mask all school year even though his PreK4 class wasn’t required. My school district just voted for mask optional, and just like hybrid teaching from last year, I have no idea why we couldn’t ride out this year with our current protocols. They decided to stop Covid testing for student-athletes and guests can return to the building. It’s just astounding how we want to pretend that everything is just normal. It isn’t. I don’t even care if we had 100% vaccine rate. I would still be cautious and wear a mask.

  10. Deanhl says:

    I have a 20 month old born on the first wave of the pandemic, when doctors didnt know much. The birth qas traumatic, my kid didnt get to meet his grandma who passed of covid when he was a few weeks old, met my parents when he was almost a year old. He has never been to a supermarket, barely plays with other kids (lucky I have a 5 year old who is fully vaccinated), and I am still so worry about sending him to school (waiting until he is 2 and can wear a mask).
    Everyone is living life as normal, but I still get to worry my kid, who is now at higher risk of complications thanks to omicron, gets the virus and get lifelong complications to it.

  11. faithmobile says:

    I have a 5 month old and the reality is we don’t go anywhere indoors anymore. We go on neighborhood walks and chat with all of our neighbors for socialization. I work part time from home because we can’t afford infant daycare. We haven’t spent any holidays with extended family since 2019. My parents are only allowed to visit the kids outdoors because they don’t believe in the pandemic. My other two kids are vaccinated, I got jabbed while pregnant and boosted after the baby was born so I believe the baby has a low level of natural immunity through breastfeeding. I’m more frustrated with my family members than anyone else.

  12. FHMom says:

    My heart goes out to those parents. My daughter works part time at a preschool/daycare, and various classes are always closing down due to Covid. She has been Covid tested more times than I care to remember. And more frustratingly, a few of the teachers/personnel are not vaccinated. She keeps picking up hours because of all the employees who are constantly quarantining. Plus, some high school student have quit because of the Covid risk. I don’t know how those working parents of small kids do it with all the interruptions to their routine.

  13. Kaylove says:

    I have a 2 year old and a immunocompromised 7 year old. We caught covid the first week of February after all our hard work with locking down and following health protocols (my husband and I pretty much only leave the house for work) My youngest experienced the highest fevers I’ve ever had to deal with. My oldest, well, it was ugly. I wouldnt wish it upon anyone.

    The idea of mandates lifting just seems absolutely bonkers. We’re throwing so many people under the bus.

  14. MrsBanjo says:

    Parents of kids who are under age 5 and those of us who are disabled and immunocompromised who’ve been screaming about this from the outset.

    My family has barely left the house because we’re all at severe risk. Watching people “go back to normal” and act like covid is nbd is infuriating because it demonstrates who and how many they’re willing to let die for their sense of normalcy. Who gives a shit about a million deaths when they can carry on like it never happened, right?

  15. Emma says:

    What kills me is how even the simplest precautions like social distancing and ventilation are ignored because they don’t fit the individualistic capitalistic framework. Not just masks or vaccines. ANYYYY precautions. It’s mind-boggling.

    My MAGA brother and sister in law won’t even get *tested* and my mom is scheduled to visit them soon. (Completely against all my advice. They’re just beyond impossible.)

    • GL says:

      Your brother isn’t alone. I’ve met people who said that the tests cause cancer, which like, I don’t think that’s true. I thought it was a q-tip.

  16. Becks1 says:

    I can’t imagine how hard it is, especially now, because its not just about masks. Testing and quarantine protocols are changing (and not for the better IMO in some areas), social distancing guidelines are out the window – and so is any flexibility or….I guess just compassion….that some people had 2 years ago. More and more employers are requiring workers to return to the office with few sick days (so of course your child can’t quarantine, who is going to stay home with them?) , you’re supposed to still work when sick (I mean look at Queen Elizabeth) and anyone who questions any of these changes and “return to normal” is living in fear and has been brainwashed and is a sheep etc.

    My heart goes out to those who are still in the midst of this and feel like the world has just moved on, because it has in many ways, unfortunately.

  17. LMNR says:

    7, 5 and 2 year old in our house. We’ve gotten it three times, twice from daycare and once at an immediate family member’s wedding. We’ve all recently had what was likely omicron. We are as fully vaxxed/boostered as we can be. Daycare and school have also closed numerous times and I’m out of sick time and my work has been completely inflexible with wfh since fall. At this point I have little choice but to treat it like any other illness because even with masks and vaccines, it keeps finding us anyway.

    If we are exposed to anything like covid, flu, hand foot mouth etc., we don’t visit family/friends. If someone is sick, we don’t visit family friends. If anyone seems a little under the weather, they get a home test and so long as it’s negative and no fevers etc., they go to daycare and school. I feel for everyone that is still hoping to avoid it or is at risk for complications, but it feels impossible to continue with the way the last two years have gone.

  18. Luna17 says:

    I have a 2 and a half year old with another on the way. I live in NM and the governor did a complete 180 from the past two years and immediately lifted the mask mandate last week. Everyone thinks it’s political since no nearby states had them and the conservative parts of the state weren’t wearing them anyways. My husband and I mainly work from home and my parents moved nearby so I go over there with the toddler nearly everyday to get out of the house. Luckily they live across from a nice park we can go to. I’ve taken my kid to the store a few times and small shops. I also give her zinc, d and other supplements everyday to keep up her immune system. I also know since she doesn’t have any known health problems we are privileged in a way other people aren’t. It’s a terrifying time for those with health conditions. Also I live in a very racially diverse area and the only people upset about masks are white people. As a fellow white person, I’m embarrassed how it’s an everyone for themselves and fuck everyone else attitude that comes from this group. I see families of Vietnamese and Indigenous decent wearing masks to the park (since many live in inter generational homes, more commons that in white households) and white people lose their mind about it! Masking is personal and dependent on different situations and everyone is different. I’m so disappointed in how shitty people are who treat people who choose to mask poorly. Can we just stop? It’s been interesting to see how people who come from other cultures actually care about protecting others instead of making everything about themselves.

  19. Kay says:

    Our baby is 12 weeks old and it’s just insane that we’re still here. We started TTC at the beginning of the pandemic since hey, we aren’t getting any younger. It took 10 months and a miscarriage to get pregnant. My second trimester was amazing…we were fully vaxed and cases were low, so we traveled and lived normally. Delta hit towards the end of my third trimester, and bam, we had to become hermits. My mom wasn’t allowed to be at the birth because we live in a state that did especially bad. I recovered a little, then bam, omicron. It feels like a nightmare that just won’t end.

    Our baby won’t start daycare until he’s 16.5 weeks, and I just want the comfort of knowing he can be vaccinated right at 6 months. The 9 weeks and 3 days between daycare starting and him turning 6 months are already a huge source of anxiety. I can’t imagine the stress levels of parents who have been at this from the beginning. People act like you’re insane for being worried about covid in kids, like it’s some weird insane notion to not want your tiny baby to get sick…I don’t care if it’s statistically likely to be mild, I don’t like gambles.

    • GL says:

      I understand your worry. But try to put it in perspective. Would you take your baby in a car? Statistically, you have a higher rate of dying in a car crash. There are several vaccines your baby can’t take until they’re 6 months. I remember when my kids were smaller every few months they were due for new vaccines. Just try to think of it as part of their normal vaccine course. I am hearing this will be approved in April for 6 mos.

  20. JanetDR says:

    From the very first, Covid has exposed how difficult the child care situation can be. I work in a special education preschool and most of my kids don’t/can’t mask.Since I’m a speech pathologist, I kind of need to be in their faces. Because of omicron, I don’t dare use the masks that have a clear panel over the mouth (they don’t fit tightly), so will record myself making targeted speech sounds before I start seeing kids.
    On the average, we have 1 or 2 students and 1 or 2 staff members test positive every week. I wear a mask everywhere there are people and am glad that masks will still be mandatory at work.
    I feel so much for all of you with little ones! What can you do but the best you can in these extraordinary circumstances?

  21. Dillesca says:

    I have two kids under five. Due to Covid, weather, holidays, and other illnesses, we haven’t had a full week of daycare since November. Both my husband and I work full-time, but we are very fortunate to have more flexible work that CAN be done remotely (though working remotely has costs). What that means is we are coordinating which of us can be on video conferences while the other is with the kids, and we work for a few hours after they go to sleep to catch up. We are exhausted.

    My children were excluded from daycare recently, as a child in one of their classes tested positive. Because of that, they were both home for TEN days, despite the fact that they tested negative. While I think that’s INSANE and unworkable in the long-run, our 21 month old made NOTICEABLE gains in his speech while at home. Why? Because he had a daytime caretaker (my husband and me) who wasn’t talking to him through a mask.

    All of it sucks.

  22. Eggbert says:

    Y’all my daughter turns 4 next month and I have to actively yell NO at myself in my head whenever I think about lying and saying she’s 5 in order to get her vaccinated. I’be always been a habitual rule follower, so if I’m having these temptations I wonder how many others have actually gone ahead and gotten their under 5’s vaccinated.

  23. ERC says:

    We aren’t okay. There’s nothing else to say. This is breaking the parents of the under 5s.

  24. Ashley says:

    Around 9:45 pm on Super Bowl Sunday my son’s pre-k called and notified us that they were closing because of 2 positive cases. We live in NYC and now our son is on pre-scheduled mid-winter recess, so that means 2 full weeks out of school. Luckily my husband still works from home and I have the ability to work from home if necessary and my mom and sisters are nearby and can help out if we need it, but still, it is a lot. He turns 5 in 2 months and I plan on taking him for his first shot on the day after his birthday.

    Sending love to all of us struggling. Working families and families of kids under 5 have definitely been left behind in all of this.