“99% of my time goes to these three things: work, child care, house work. I feel like I’m always rushing from one to the other , although they’re essentially all happening at once. When I’m not dead exhausted I do 30 minutes of forced exercise bc I would lose my mind without it. But it feels like I’m stealing from those three other things or from MUCH needed relaxation every time I do it. I wish there was a way to either work fewer hours or have some child care or something so I can have some self-care.”
Can you commit to yourself the way you commit to your family? Honoring your needs while trying to be a patient Mother, gracious partner and committed worker, was always tricky. But after two years doing more of everything, the tradeoffs caring for our kids, selves and careers, have drained us. And it’s more than our energy. It’s hurt our confidence.
We’ve heard from over 2,700 parents, mostly Mothers (97%) in our pandemic study since March of 2020. And Covid-living has pushed overwhelmed Moms to new levels of burnout
and despair. But the growing frustration has also led many, to reach clarity. That a sustainable lifestyle looks nothing like what we had before. And to achieve more calm and joy
, we will need to align our lives and calendars, with our new priorities. And manage or ignore
, other people’s unrealistic expectations. Why? Because a lot has changed in the past two years.
Parenting is Harder
“My child …has an anxiety disorder and the pandemic really impacted him. I’m struggling to have his mental health care covered by insurance. I’m also unable to find a job in the field of work I left or even similar pay.”
“…Better access to child care for middle school children and better access to mental health resources.”
In spring of 2020, most were locked down with their families and between helping their kids feel safe, entertained and educated, surveyed Moms spent a lot more time on childcare. So, they felt pretty confident about their parenting. But by late fall, it shifted. As daycares remained closed
, Covid surged and report cards came home, the growing mental health crisis among kids
, became visible.
And when asked what they needed, for their wellbeing, happiness or productivity
, mental healthcare
was a top request. They needed access for themselves and their children. So, by the winter of 2020, parenting confidence plummeted. It’s improved a little but in the past six months almost half (48%) still feel that they’re doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ as parents.
And Tension Among Couples Remains High
“(I need) a healthy marriage ‚All the pandemic isolation forced a lot of things into the light.”
“My husband and I haven’t had a date night together or any time together away from kids, so our relationship is struggling…”
“…Dealing with everything on my own and walking on eggshells around my husband is hard emotionally.”
The overwhelming majority of surveyed Moms are married or cohabiting (88%.) And most partnerships haven’t recovered
from the extra housework
, childcare, stress or lack of privacy. Only about 30% of our coupled Moms feel like their relationships
are doing ‘as well as usual’ or ‘better.’ And perhaps, not coincidentally, only about 30% cite having partners that have taken on more housework or childcare. Which fuels more frustration, about the gendered division of labor
, in most homes.
Work Performance (Mostly) Stabilized
“… Work is supportive and generally healthy but I am stressed.”
“(I have) flexibility to adapt my schedule; space to check-in with others.”
Early on, more than half (58%) felt like they were doing ‘terribly’ or ‘not as well as usual’ as workers. But because work means financial stability
, healthcare and identity
, most figured out how to secure that part of life. Moms who remain in the paid workforce, have used more flexible policies, benefits or lack of commutes, to regain productivity
. Despite the turmoil that’s rippled through almost every industry. In the past six months, most (53%) feel like they are doing ‘as well’ or ‘better than usual’ at work.
But Self-Care Hasn’t Recovered
“(I need) a better mindset because unfortunately I’m in a constant state of mental exhaustion.”
“…My parents are a big help, taking their grandkids for four hours daily. But it is overwhelming needing to lead a state agency by telecommuting, care for three children 6 and under, and keep our home clean and meals cooked. It would just be nice to have a little reprieve every once in a while.”
“I don’t want to be everyone’s “everything.”
The vast majority (75%) are still doing less of everything for their mental
and emotional health. After all, how can you make space for navigating the closures, testing and childcare, without giving something up? So, they have abandoned exercise,
preventative health checks and in some cases, regular showers.
They’ve done anything to gain some control over their time
. But what can we do about it? The answer lies in the hope
and positive habits we want to keep
. When we’ve asked ‘what has transformed you in positive ways?’ Inevitably, it’s the deep belief this will lead to positive social change. And with it, the ability for Moms to set our own priorities instead of allowing society to set them for us.
So, Go On. Take Space
Moms need time to breathe, enjoy our families and care for our health. We need organizations that believe in, support
, and protect us, from toxic managers
. And we need to be elevated
, celebrated and respected, in every area of our lives. Working nonstop isn’t healthy for us or our relationships. So, let’s rewrite the rules
of Motherhood together. And end the daily sacrifices that lead to feeling hollow, anxious
And Challenge ‘the Rules’
It’s okay to take things off the to-do list permanently. And if partnered, share responsibilities at home. We can enjoy giving but must preserve our energy. So, go on, become more ruthless about your time and get support for what you need. Even if you have to negotiate hard for it. Dial back what’s draining and invest in what makes you feel alive.
That is what I wish for you, this Mother’s Day and every day. That whether it’s in the kitchen, boardroom or on the playground, you maintain the intention of caring for yourself. With the same fervor and commitment you give to others.
- Ready to reclaim space for yourself from the never-done list? Take a TimeCheck.
- Have you chimed in yet? Share your pandemic experiences! How are the latest changes affecting your life? It’s quick and the results from this study are used to advocate better support for parents.
- Employers, let us help you transform your workplace into an environment where caregivers thrive. Learn about Allies @ Work.
Tags: Manage Stress For Moms
, Moms Self care
, Self-Confidence for Moms
, stress management
, Working Moms