MOTHERHOOD is hard, it has always been, and that is a fact. But the truth is that the pandemic has made the job, which a 2018 study described as being equivalent to two-and-a-half full-time jobs, much harder. Now with remote learning for both moms and their children and working from home (WFH) the new norm, mothers, who were already disproportionately responsible for caring for the house and the kids have to do more of everything with little or no access to their usual system of support, including teachers, after school programmes, and babysitters.
We spoke to a few moms about the dual and, in some cases, triple challenge of remote learning for kids, and in some cases the mom, and working from home, and at least one thing is clear — many moms are at this point burnt out. Here are their stories:
Sabrina, risk management analyst & mom of three:
Some days I honestly feel like tearing my hair out. It's frustrating because I don't have help and I don't really want people in my house because of COVID. Both my children are under age five so you know they are curious, their toys are often noisy, and they depend on me to do a lot for them.
I have had to set up house monitors to keep an eye on them and pretty much develop a schedule for them so that there can be some semblance of order and to ensure that they don't constantly need to interrupt me during meetings. Then there is the mess and, you know, more screen time for them than I would like, but it's the thing that will distract them for longer periods. It is a lot to juggle.
Julien, teacher, master's student & mom of two:
It's a job for five persons, but I plan, strategise, stick to my routine and I do my best. I am very serious about pencilling in my relaxation time; I am very big on that. But balancing everything can be difficult; most times it works, sometimes it doesn't. I am always needing more rest time. What has helped, though, is that I have a good support system, so when things get overwhelming and I need help I can always ask.
Samantha, customer service rep, student & mom of two:
I already dread what the next few months will be like for us. I am a single mother and my son is a high schooler, and my daughter will be doing PEP [Primary Exit Profile]. Both children require a lot of individual help and I have to try and get in as many hours at work as possible. The last year was so rough that now I am seriously considering taking a leave of absence from school because it is not like I can take time off from work. With the way things are going with COVID, I don't know if I should risk failing school because I will always choose to help my children before focusing on my school assignments.
Lanae, sales rep & mom of one:
It's great working from home and being able to take care of your child and house duties but, and this is a big but, with a child like mine, making things work can be challenging. She is always making noise when I am on my calls, she is always hungry, turning up her TV, and making a mess with food. I could go on and on and on but I have been working on a system for the two of us. I try to ensure that she stays in her space. I make her breakfast before work, give her a snack on my break, and cook dinner during my lunchtime. I make it happen.
Tiana, guidance counsellor & mom of two:
First of all, hats off to all mothers out there who are holding things down while working and studying from home. I just finished my last semester of school so I can speak to having to balance school, work, and being there for my children at all the same time at home. It is not cute, it is hard, and if you are not mentally strong or if the support is absent it can break you. I know because I came close to it. Even with all the structure in the world, things don't always go according to plan, and with so much on one's plate, you get overwhelmed. You just have to understand that no matter how busy your day gets it's important that you take at least twenty minutes for yourself, check-in with you, apply a face mask, make your favourite tea or have a cup of your favourite coffee and block out everything else and just remember things will get better.
Alison, IT technician coordinator & mom of four:
Some days I just lock myself in the bathroom for five minutes and I cry. That is my therapy. I don't know how else to cope, but doing it alone five days each week is rough. Dad takes care of things for most of the two other days, since he works long hours outside of the home, and only one of my children can manage to help, and she is only 10 so I can't ask much of her. I have to be hushing the baby while I am on calls with my team, feeding and cleaning her and making sure that my three-year-old doesn't soil the entire house with her waste, manage the mess of their art supplies, meal prep for the entire day from before day in the morning, assist with online school, and clean up all the time. It is a lot. Sometimes I wake up at 3:00 am on the couch with my daughter on my chest, and I am still wearing my clothes from the day before. This has made me appreciate my team of support more because God knows that most days I feel like I am drowning.