My tweet about childcare costs in America has families talking in Pittsburgh and beyond

The last thing I expected to do our first few weeks of summer this year was go viral on the internet and juggle interviews from media outlets across the country. But that’s what happened when I shared my summer email signature on social media last week:

I penned the signature in a moment of frustration when a client sniped at me for not responding to a non-urgent email quickly. I wondered if I should take it down. I went back and forth with myself over the next few days, but as I went about my job — sending emails, responding to personal and professional inquiries — I began to receive support back from everyone I interacted with.

That promoted me to take a screenshot and post it to my Twitter and Instagram in an effort to let working parents know they were not alone with the childcare struggle during the summer months. I say “parents,” but the reality is that statistically mothers shoulder more of the childcare in two-parent cishet households, even when both parents work full-time.

Over the next few days, I began to receive an amazing response. Mothers, fellow journalists, advocacy centers, and even employers themselves began to reach out to me to talk about this “bold move” I had made. I talked to the Today Show, Good Morning America, Fortune, and more. I wrote about it myself for Scary Mommy, where I am a regular contributor.

I was most excited to get to share about it locally for KDKA, on Talk Pittsburgh. (You can watch the segment below.) I love this city with my whole heart, and I’ve worked in early childhood education and human services in this region for over a decade before launching my journalism career. I know other families who struggle like ours — waking up at 5 a.m. to get that camp registration the second it opens, battling for spots in the affordable summer programs. I see them on their laptops at parks or at Urban Air or even the pool.

It didn’t feel like a bold move to me to add this to my email signature — it just feels real, raw, and honest.

The fact is that the United States lags behind every other developed country in the world with regards to childcare, as I talked about with Heather on Talk Pittsburgh. According to Bloomberg, improvements in parental leave and subsidized childcare will improve our economy and strengthen our workforce. We know women left the workforce in droves during the pandemic. There are 2 million fewer women in the workforce than pre-pandemic. Many, just like me, want to work now — but the cost of childcare is holding them back.

I don’t know how long I’ll have a platform on this issue. The internet moves fast and some new story will take over in a few days. I plan, though, to keep talking about this issue and advocating for it in every way I can, both locally and nationally. If we don’t advocate for ourselves and the supports we need, who will?