September 24, 2020
It doesn’t come as news, but is nonetheless depressing: women with school age children are bearing the brunt of the fallout from the pandemic. Many are quitting jobs, as the lack of childcare and the huge demands of remote learning have forced their hand. Countless more mothers are struggling to try and juggle work and keeping the family on track.
I wish I could reach out and deliver a hug and a shoulder for each of you. It is hard. Insanely hard.
What I can do is ask you to dig deep and see if there is any way to give yourself a break. I am talking about demanding more of your spouse. I don’t care if he (or she) makes more. That is not the only issue. Every parent needs to be contributing.
A survey conducted after the lockdown began in the Spring reported that wives were doing a whole lot more around the house. A majority of wives said they were taking the lead (doing more of the work) for homeschooling, cooking, cleaning and caring for the children. The two areas where men said they are taking the lead: managing the finances and yard work.
Do I really need to point out that yard work and managing the household finances are not daily chores? And everything that women are taking the lead on—those tasks aren’t just daily; they can be constant throughout the day. No wonder so many women are at (or past) the breaking point.
I fully appreciate that shifting relationship and family dynamics can be hard to even contemplate, let alone put on the table, but are you really going to tell me that you won’t even try?
Please don’t fall back on the fact that this is just the dynamic that’s been in place for years. That may be, but here we are, in the middle of a pandemic and it’s upended everything. Everything. This moment requires new strategies.
I understand how, back in the Spring, you might have just soldiered through, thinking this was a one-off event and would be over soon enough. Yet here we are, starting a new school year of remote classes in many parts of the country.
If there is a wide discrepancy in how you and your partner “share” household work and child caregiving, I think you are nuts to not sit down and work out a more equitable game plan. Not because you need help or a favor, but because sacrifice in the age of COVID is not yours to bear alone.