Lifestyle

How Has Covid Affected Working Moms and Their Lifestyle?

Too much of anything can be bad; even time spent with those closest to you. This is what some of the families discovered during the covid-19 lockdown. The pandemic forced governments worldwide to close their borders, shut down schools and businesses, and restrict people from leaving their houses unless necessary. Being caged up like this can seriously negatively affect individuals’ mental and emotional well-being and society.

Due to schools holding most of the classes remotely, child care has become a problem for the parents who need to go to work, especially for the working mom. Children themselves feel isolated from their friends and might have a problem coping with the new remote educational system. Also, the pandemic has made parents working from home and children attending online classes the new norm.

Most working parents, especially working moms, face a serious problem in maintaining their work-life and household. Everybody is aware that mothers are often disproportionately responsible for housework and childcare. And that’s even more challenging if you’re a working mother. Thus, most of them end up losing their jobs in the middle of the pandemic.

According to the report,

  • 45% of working mothers living with their school-age children were not actively working. That percent has since decreased to 35% by 2021.
  • Also, between March and April, around 3.5 million working mothers living with school-age children left active work last spring, either shifting into paid or unpaid leave, losing their job, or exiting the labor market altogether.

How has Covid affected the lives of working moms?

The pandemic has altered working mothers’ routines and lifestyles drastically; their time of exercise and entertainment has reduced significantly. The Coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic, which started in 2020, has taken a heavy toll on working mothers, significantly reducing their average sleep and work time.

From attempting to manage remote schooling of their children to rearranging their workdays to fill childcare gaps, there is no doubt that its mothers are, more often than not, shouldering the increased responsibilities caused due to the pandemic.

1)    Difficulty in working from home

Working mothers, juggling various responsibilities, struggle to finish their office work on time and spend more hours finishing office work than earlier.

2)    Additional responsibilities

It becomes hard for many working mothers to handle all the household work singly as household work has gone up with the absence of housemaids or helpers in many cases. Moreover, a more than two-fold jump in time taken to care for the elderly and younger in the family.

3)    More focused on child’s education

Moreover, around 26 percent of working mothers said there were more childcare responsibilities. With the absence of proper guidance or ineffective online classes, working mothers are compelled to spend more time on their children’s education.

4)    Mental health issues

Around 30 percent of women have reported mental health issues since 2020, while around 9.8 million working mothers in the US are suffering from workplace burnout. The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted working mothers, who are stressed working around the clock fulfilling professional responsibilities and household duties.

Working mothers often have to compromise with their exercise and sleep. Improper sleep or changes in sleeping patterns hampers the individual’s mental health as well as physical.

5)    Child care

The coronavirus outbreak has increased the extra workload for the working parents. Many working parents, especially working mothers, say handling childcare responsibilities and other office work is very difficult. Around 52% of the employed parents with children younger than 12 reported difficulty handling child care responsibilities during the coronavirus outbreak.

6)    Financial problem faced by a single working mom

Unemployment, the resulting financial insecurity, and the stress of having to generate funds somehow to feed your family and keep a roof over your head can take an enormous toll on the mental state of any person. It is even difficult when you are a single working mother.

Single mothers, pre-pandemic, also have been facing many problems regarding growing up children, being financially stable, and feeding their family, and now this coronavirus outbreak has made things more difficult and challenging for every single working mother out there than others.

Current situation of working mothers after vaccination

After vaccination, the careers of working mothers continue to suffer even more due to the lack of flexibility in arrangements to keep the working moms returning to work. Although many workplaces have reopened after vaccination, about 69% of working mothers planned to remain home as full-time caregivers for the time being.

Only 31% of working mothers said they are planning to return back to work within 12 months. Those who had left the jobs, when asked the reason behind it, they said that they lost their jobs in the pandemic or they stopped working to care for and accommodate their child.

As per the reports, one in four working mothers found downshifting their careers or leaving the workplace entirely due to covid-19. And the other reason that working mothers are more likely to downshift their careers than working dads is because of childcare responsibilities.

If this continues and the companies do not make a good strategy and provide the flex arrangements to working mothers for returning to work, companies are likely to lose women in the leadership.

How companies can address the challenges women are facing

Most companies are now reopened after the second wave of coronavirus breakout and have asked the employee to come over to the workplace to continue their job, but women with childcare responsibilities may need to work remotely because many daycare centers are closed permanently due to covid-19.

Thus, the probability of working moms returning to their job depends on the companies’ flexibility. For this, companies should make the policy

  • Ensuring the women who choose to work remotely can have the same opportunities for advancement and visibility as those who work on-site.
  • Employees (on the worksite and working remotely) should be provided with additional benefits, such as mental health counseling, health insurance.
  • Companies should not judge remotely working employees’ commitment towards the work based on children playing in the background during the meetings or on the video calls.
  • Companies should not pressurize the employee to recover the company loss faced due to the covid as soon as possible.

Note: If any companies find it difficult to operate with employees working remotely, try to implement the hybrid work model- a combination of remote and in-person work.

Tips for working mothers to maintain a great work-life during the pandemic

Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon. Maintaining social distancing at the workplace or everywhere, covering the face with masks, or remote working is now a new normal. We will all need to learn to live with this virus. Global leaders, scientists, and medical experts have been saying it repeatedly and from time to time.

Undoubtedly, this pandemic has immensely impacted working women. Here are few tips listed below for working women to maintain a great work-life:

1)    Make work more sustainable by setting boundaries

If you are working remotely from home, there may be the assumption that you are always online and available for work. So, discuss and have a healthy talk on productivity expectations with your supervisor and plan your work days as best as possible.

2)    Map out your day

It is very important to pen down your to-do list for a day and prioritize them accordingly. Sometimes, some tasks can overlap or be done simultaneously, so try to group those activities to prevent double work. Identify the time in a day when you feel motivated and try to complete the most important tasks in that time.

A completed to-do list will help you to have a good sound sleep reducing your stress too.

3)    Avoid distractions

Women who work from home can have difficulty working as their children may distract them while having a serious discussion with co-workers or on video calls. Today’s children love to play with smartphones, especially with their parents. But always giving your phones to your children to avoid distractions is not a permanent solution. Instead, you can introduce them to dumbphones.

If your children keep disturbing you and ask your phones to play with them, dumb phones are the best solution.

4)    Give yourself a short break

With almost spending 7-8 hours a day in front of your laptop or PC’s screen, your eyes and mind may feel drained. You may feel restless. So, taking a short break for 5-10 minutes during work time makes you feel active throughout your work time and helps increase your productivity.

Remember: try to avoid screen time while taking breaks. Do not start to scroll your phone’s screen; instead, have a cup of tea or coffee or give your eye a splash of water.

5)    Health comes first

Do not be too harsh on yourself. Everything that comes around has an end, so that a coronavirus outbreak may do. Remember to take some time off since nothing is more precious in the world than your health. With a healthy body and a calm mind, you can do more and achieve more.

So, prioritize your health. Stay hydrated. Eat fresh fruits and salads, indulge yourself in some exercise or yoga, dance and laugh. Also, spending some quality time with your family can significantly help you enhance your well-being.

Alternative options to earn money for working mothers during the pandemic

1)    Freelancing

Freelancing has been and remains a popular way of earning money online. As a freelancer, you can offer your service to any number of firms as an independent employer at the same time for a fixed period and a fee. You can only do this if you are not contractually bound to other firms. As per the report, a freelancer, on average, earns rs.19 lakhs per annum. Graphic designing, content writing, architecture design, etc., are easily available on the web.

2)    Teaching online

If you are a subject expert, have great communication skills, and feel that you can keep your students engaged and enhance their interests, you can earn money by tutoring people online. There are a variety of online tutoring websites that link up teachers and students online.

Some online tutoring sites focus on academics, while some offer you the chance to teach dance, songs, and crafts.

3)    Become a virtual assistant

Virtual assistants are skilled home-based professionals offering companies and entrepreneur administrative support. They work remotely with the clients to manage those aspects of business that they have to visit to take care of. A VA can choose to work with the employer, set up their own business, or even work freelancing.

Making phone calls, email correspondence, Internet research, data entry, editing, and writing are the different major areas of work for VA. Several virtual assistant websites like Virtalent and 24/7 virtual assistant are there on the web, offering $10-12 per hour and 20-120 hours per month. Becoming a VA entails some degree of training, depending on your qualification. However, organizational and time management skills are a must for a VA.

4)    Social media strategy and management

You can also make money from social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube. With digital media booming, so many companies and popular brands have business accounts on these platforms. They pay social media starters to boost the popularity of their products further. Creating creative content is a must for it to increase brand value and its marketing.

Final verdict

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has greatly intensified workload, childcare, and housework pressures for every working mother out there. Multitasking and playing many roles parallel is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, working mothers play all these roles without hesitation, but it gradually becomes more hectic after some time.

Thus, we can say that the coronavirus outbreak has greatly impacted women in several ways. The pandemic has inappropriately affected working moms and their lifestyles. Because of the pandemic, many women are giving up their jobs to accommodate their child care while other women working as front liners have had to put themselves and their families at risk to fulfill their commitment towards the work.

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