I feel like we are living part of the Frozen II soundtrack — namely, “Into The Unknown” and “The Next Right Thing.” (Can’t you just hear Kristen Bell’s melodic voice ringing through the deserted toilet-paper aisles?)
All jokes aside, as a mom and a small business owner, I certainly don’t have all of the answers when it comes to the coronavirus. Small businesses are in a bind, and parents who work outside of the house are in a bind. Our infrastructure and mindset are just not set up for a situation like this.
The questions surrounding COVID-19 affect us all — what should small businesses do and how should people react — and they hit really close to home. For the last two weeks, I have had more conversations with doctors, nurses, and general medical staff than I have throughout my entire life. I’ve gone over every possible business plan and how any action I take affects my 600 families and 31 staff members. After two weeks of deliberating, I knew on Wednesday that it was time to do the next right thing and shut down Bay & Bee, a Montessori inspired play space that I co-founded in 2014, for the time being. The bills can wait, and I’ll figure that next part out later. My commitment isn’t just to entertain, it’s to provide support for families — and this is the best thing we could do.
We can’t ignore the headlines coming in from Europe with countries on lockdown. A country lockdown is a national quarantine restricting the movement of a population except for necessity, work, and health. This fully shuts down restaurants, bars, places of entertainment, shopping, sports, parks, and public spaces.
We have a little bit of time to pivot, and we can do it together.
Schools closed to help flatten the curve. If we continue to gather in groups and show up at places of entertainment, the school closures will have been for nothing. Social distancing isn’t about you getting sick, it’s about slowing down the spread of viruses. For those privileged to make choices, we have an obligation to our healthcare workers to help them with our choices.
As parents, we make hard decisions and do our best every single day. If you are able to stay at home with your children, stay home and steer clear of large groups, entertainment venues, childcare facilities — and yes, even playdates. You’ll settle into a routine without going crazy. There are so many resources and places offline to retreat to for those much-needed parenting connections. If you are still going into work, thank you, and I’m sorry our system is set up this way. I’m sure you’re on top of all things to protect yourself, meaning wash hands, keep your distance, and disinfect your work environment.
As for businesses, right now, it’s a catch-22. If they stay open, the public will think this is normal and carry on. And businesses will carry on as long as people show up, seeing as they have a long list of obligations and overhead. So many small businesses are scared to close because they have bills, they have employees, and they have so many responsibilities.
So, is it more important to social distance or support local? As a business owner who may be in a deep irrecoverable hole, my opinion is social distance. The support financially will have to come as a next, because the longer it takes to recover, the worse this will get.
Encourage your favorite places to move their services online or curbside pickup. Let them know that when this is over, you’ll be there to help build them back up. The decision to shut down or change the way a business operates is not easy, and there will be months of fallout because of it, but it is the socially responsible thing to do. When this passes, we will never know if we overreacted — but it will be apparent if we under-react and continue business as usual.
Know a business that needs encouragement to make brave changes? Reach out to them.
Know a small business pivoting to car-side delivery or online services? Comment below, and make sure you support them on social media.
Know some good organizations helping out people in need? Let’s do this, and work together to build that long table.
Ideas for out-of-the-norm home activities or recipes? Let’s go. Share your ideas and resources, because we’re all in this together.
About the Author
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Monica Bodnar-Pharr somehow ended up in Jax. An introvert and awkward extrovert who loves dogs. (Hey Jake, it’s time to get that puppy.) Loves all things Montessori, Waldorf and thinks her kids are pretty great too. Co-founded Bay & Bee in 2014 and then crazy enough to open a second location in 2017. Gray hairs have exploded and everything is fine.