Coronavirus. Covid-19. Pandemic.
Stay at home. Wear a mask. Social distance.
All words that we have heard time and time again since the beginning of 2020. This year has shaped up to be one that will go down in infamy.
Most of us started this year with our New Year’s resolutions- plans to make 2020 the best year yet! Diets planned, job changes, new homes, new relationships, new schools, etc.
None of us could have expected what was about to come….
Or how much it would change our worlds.
We’ve all made changes due to this ever-present reminder that hangs over our heads that at any point in time, we may become ill or infect someone we love.
We’ve sacrificed. We’ve waited. We’ve changed.
We’ve listened to our politicians, to our leaders, to our educators about what we can do to band together and get through this tough time. We’ve had to explain to our children why their worlds are changing as well and why they can’t go back to school.
“No honey, you can’t see your bestie today. No honey, I don’t know when this mean virus will go away. Yes honey, I know it’s nice outside, but we still can’t go to the park.”
Tough conversations to have, especially with those too little to understand.
So many of us going through this process have changed in ways that we can barely recognize our pre-covid selves. People are even starting stories with “Well, this was before Covid” as to define the mentality we were in when we performed a specific task or attended a particular activity.
Everything is different now.
Through these waves of changes, a new generation of women has come to light-
We’re used to hearing about stay at home moms or working moms, but the work at home mom is a new phenomenon brought to the forefront in recent days due to the current pandemic.
There have been so many conversations about the trials and tribulations of the working moms or stay at home moms, that we all seem to have a good grasp on the issues that befall those of us that fall into each of those categories.
I’ve always had a profound respect for stay at home mothers, but felt that I needed to generate an income for my family outside of the home.
I found a separate value outside these four walls that I find myself missing intensely now that I am confined within them.
I used to think my days were so difficult knowing I had to get four of us ready each morning, out the door, hoping I hadn’t forgotten anything (or anyone), while getting us to where we each needed to go and on time.
I miss those days now. I miss being able to drop off the kids at school or daycare and listen to my own music in the car. I miss pouring my morning coffee, knowing I could drink it on the drive while it was still hot.
I miss getting dressed and putting on makeup, even when I hated the idea of getting up in the morning knowing those tasks had to be done.
I miss coming home to children that were excited to see me and asking them about their day. I miss looking forward to the weekends to catch up on laundry and dishes and snuggles.
It’s so different now.
Now I’m a work-at-home mom.
This means that on top of running my business, I am home with my children 100% of the time. Some may argue that this is what life has always been like for stay at home moms.
Our lives are not the same because we have very different challenges. This is not to say that one is better or worse than the other, just different.
All of our lives have changed and for most of us, these changes have brought on significant hardships. We cannot simply bring our kids to the McDonald’s Playplace and let them burn some energy while we work on our computers or talk with friends.
We have to keep them home and for some that have strict social distancing rules, this may mean away from neighborhood friends as well.
With this, the working at home mom faces challenges unique to them.
I’m going to get very real here for a second……. in most cases, this is more unique to them than it is for the work at home dads.
Don’t get me wrong, of course I know there are exceptions to every rule here. I’m not going to get into those exceptions, I am going to address the majority.
In most cases, even when dads are also working from home, the other duties of the family still fall on the shoulders of the mother and are not distributed equally.
For most of us work at home moms, we are also doing this without the help of others.
Due to the pandemic, we can no longer even rely on the assistance of babysitters, grandparents, aunts/uncles, or close friends. Everyone must stay away.
The work at home mom has all of the duties she typically has while at home- laundry, meals, mess pick up. The difference now is that it is completely amplified by the amount of time everyone is spending at home.
There are 3x the amount of meals had at home than there was before, which also means 3x the amount of grocery shopping and 3x the amount of dishes.
The kids typically are not being watched as closely as they were at school or daycare, which means more spills, which means more laundry. There are more household toys being played with which means WAY more picking up than what we are used to.
Stuff is getting left out, toys are being broken, siblings are fighting more than usual (because they see WAY too much of each other) and when you finally make it downstairs to relax, there is dog poop in the corner of the basement…awesome.
On top of all of this? The work at home mom is also WORKING.
We have businesses to run, employees to take care of, payroll to send out, clients to be spoken to. All while our children are begging for attention and peeing their pants.
We have zoom meetings that we hope don’t lead to us ending up on YouTube because we decided to take a pee not knowing the video feed was on.
We have to teach our children the lessons they would be learning at school and have to accept the fact that our kindergartners still don’t know how to read because all we had time for was the 20 minute assignment required to meet their attendance quota for the entire week.
Want to know what hasn’t changed? The expectations that others have for us.
In many cases, our husbands still expect things to go on as normal- especially if they are still working outside of the home.
They, or at minimum the children, still expect dinner to be made and ready at the same time each night. It is difficult for them to understand why all of a sudden the laundry is piling up or the dishes are standing in the sink….for the 4th day in a row.
Our employers have accepted the fact that we must work from home, but the quotas remain the same. The client’s expectations of service remain the same. The orders to fill remain the same.
But we are not the same.
It is so common for all of us women to suffer from extreme guilt for the areas in our lives that we feel we are failing at. The guilt is real. The struggle is real.
We are taking less time for self care than we ever were before. We are crying in our kitchens or locking ourselves in the bathroom (while the toddler cries and bangs on the door), or sitting on the floor of our closets. We are making love to our husbands less and dealing with strained marriages.
We are losing our minds and there is no end in sight. We have fears that we never had before.
“What if they don’t get sent back to school? What if they get sent back to school but are in masks all day? What if my kid doesn’t learn to read and ends up a year behind? What if my employer gets sick of waiting for me to be productive again? What if my husband gets sick of hearing me complain? What if I get Covid and my family has to survive without me?”
So many worries.
I am not here to offer advice on how to get through this.
I am simply here to bring a voice to those of us that are suffering through this in ways unique to the work at home mom.
I stand in solidarity with all of you that are struggling and the only thing I do know for sure is that we will get through this.
We have to.
Our children need us now more than ever. Our jobs need us. Our families need us. We are needed.
We are loved. We are appreciated, even when we don’t feel like it.
One day, we will look back at this time and realize that if we made it through this…..
We can make it through anything.
This post originally appeared on Raising Strong Women