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Morning Brief: Pandemic Parenting (STILL), Wind Turbines, And Carbon Canyon

An adult, with small children clinging to her, lifts a big dark mass on her shoulders as she tries to walk forward in a graphic illustration.
“My biggest concern beyond safety [is] the mental load," said one mom about dealing with the stress of managing a family in the midst of a pandemic.
(Alborz Kamalizad
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Jan. 21.

I don’t know if y’all know this, but parents of kids under the age of five are like, not okay. 

I say that as the parent of a three-year-old myself. In the past month, my son’s preschool has shut down twice for seven days at a time, leaving my spouse and me to manage a schedule that suddenly includes two full-time jobs and a rambunctious child accustomed to playing with other three-year-olds for eight hours a day.

There are no words in the English language that I know of to describe this situation, so I will make do with calling it not ideal. Or, as one mom told my colleague Mariana Dale, the circumstances are resulting in mothers she knows “crying all the time … literally losing hair, stress vomiting — and I don't think that ends with the vaccine.”

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Part of the problem, Mariana explains, is what’s known as the cognitive load. Anyone who’s spent time reading modern feminist think pieces will be familiar with the concept; it’s also called the mental load or, similar but different, the emotional load. The term refers to all the thinking and planning and monitoring that goes into keeping family life running on a normal basis.

The pandemic has upped this type of work by about tenfold.

According to Harvard University doctoral candidate Allison Daminger, the cognitive load can be broken down into four key parts:

  1. Anticipating a need. For example: Who will care for your kids if daycare shuts down?
  2. Identification. What are the options for dealing with this problem? (Can someone take a sick day? Do we know anyone who is willing to watch our kid even though it means they’ll be exposed to COVID-19? Or are we white-knuckling it?) 
  3. Choosing an option. Picking one of the above. 
  4. Monitoring. When will daycare reopen? How is our solution working? Do we need to make any tweaks? 
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Daminger’s research shows that women typically take on more of this cognitive labor.

In my own mom group text, we’ve reached the point of sharing when and where we do primal screams (for most of us, it’s in the car). If that’s helpful to you, please feel free to adopt the practice. Either way, keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Low wages make it next to impossible to find housing in expensive regions like Southern California, exacerbating the region's homelessness crisis. 
  • More than 120 wind turbines spanning nearly 40,000 acres in rural New Mexico will help power about 223,300 homes in Los Angeles.
  • The Santa Ana winds are blowing across inland areas through Thursday afternoon.
  • Land acknowledgments have become ubiquitous at California colleges and universities, but one campus has taken it beyond that.
  • Some states, including California, have begun requiring nursing home visitors to present negative COVID-19 tests before entering — and not all families are pleased about it.

Before You Go ... This Week's Outdoor Pick: Redwood Grove

A path cutting through a forest of redwoods is marked by low banisters made of logs on either side. The photo's point of view is of walking down the path.
Carbon Canyon Park in Brea features three acres of Coast Redwood trees.
(Courtesy of R.REIRING (kla4067), licensed under CC BY 2.0)

Yes, there is a spot in SoCal to glimpse the majestic Coastal Redwood trees. Head to Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea and walk the easy one-mile nature trail to the park's three acres of redwoods, which house about 200 non-native trees.

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Or, you could: Watch a feel-good West End musical make its North American debut. Catch '90s alt musicians Clem Snide and Mike Doughty. Screen Danny Pudi’s autobiographical film. Listen to the Harlem Quartet perform live. Attend KPCC's Public Radio Palooza as it kicks off. And more.

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