The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many people losing their jobs or working remotely from home, but stay-at-home moms and working mothers have been impacted the most. Working and stay-at-home mom issues include trying to juggle homemaking, childcare duties and teaching while also having less time for self-care and socializing. At the height of the pandemic in April 2020, more than 5 billion children were out of school worldwide and pandemic parenting was in full swing.
Industries with a greater number of women workers, such as retail stores, restaurants and travel and hospitality services, were hardest hit by closings and job layoffs. According to the U.S. Census, during the crisis, women in the United States lost their jobs at about 144% the rate men did. Mothers ended up disproportionately shouldering the responsibilities of caring for children, including taking over teaching duties as schools and daycare centers closed. And some mothers continued to work remotely from home as well.
The Switch to Remote Work
Parenting during a pandemic is challenging. Women already carry much of the load of domestic duties, and adding the role of teacher can make stress levels soar. Mothers who are trying to carry out the responsibilities of being homemakers, teachers and sometimes remote workers are under a major strain. It’s hard to keep up when chores and responsibilities seem unending.
Moms may think they have to keep housework and childcare up to the same standards as before, even if they’re working from home. Since this is impossible, it leads to a persistent sense of failure. Stay-at-home parents need to realize that nothing must be done perfectly. Okay is good enough when caregivers are stretched so thin. It’s more important to let children know they’re loved than to have a spotless home or make every meal from scratch.
Isolation and Loss of Social Life
People often define themselves by the work they do. It gives them a sense of identity, creates a routine for their day and is intrinsically rewarding. Once that role is taken away or significantly altered, a person can feel lost and unable to cope with rapid changes. Stay-at-home mom isolation is a problem as mothers try to do it all. Having new responsibilities comes with a loss of freedom and lack of time for self-care. Losing a job means losing workplace friendships women rely on as well as opportunities to socialize and be around other adults.
Reaction to Stress
When facing major difficulties, people go into crisis mode, also referred to as the fight-or-flight response. Blood pressure increases, the heart pumps harder and hormones like epinephrine are released into the bloodstream to help the body deal with heightened stress. These changes developed in our evolutionary past, and they allow humans to better handle emergencies by facing them head-on or running away.
With pandemic parenting, the only choice parents have is to face the increased responsibilities. The stress response is a useful adaptation for a short-term crisis, but it can take a mental and physical toll if it continues indefinitely. Staying in a state of constant stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and “brain fog,” an inability to focus, pay attention or remember things. Stress can also contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. These are serious stay-at-home mom issues that shouldn’t be ignored.
Reaction to Trauma
If you have anxiety, depression or other psychological problems related to parenting during a pandemic, they may persist even after your children are back in school. Some parents are afraid that their children have gotten behind in schoolwork while learning at home. You may still worry about whether you’re doing enough, and it can be hard to bounce back to the way you felt pre-pandemic. Just remember that the pandemic changes lasted for over a year, so you can’t expect to instantly feel the same as you did before.
Fear can be debilitating. During the COVID-19 crisis, before vaccinations were available, people continued to die regularly from the virus. You may even have experienced loss among your own friends and family. It can be frightening to send children back to school not knowing if there could be another outbreak at some point. And losing a job can cause lingering depression, especially as the economy slowly rebounds and there aren’t as many jobs available.
Substance Abuse Issues
Some people have handled the crush of responsibilities, risk of illness and prolonged stress of the pandemic by abusing alcohol or drugs. Even as things get better, it can be hard to change the habit of relying on them, and it’s much easier to kick the habit when you receive addiction counseling from professionals. Having someone to talk to about the fears, worries and experiences you’ve been through can lighten the load.
Making Time for Help
How can you fit counseling into your busy schedule in the middle of pandemic parenting? Every day, you still have decisions to make that strike the balance between letting your children have a full life and protecting them from harm. You won’t be able to continue being a superwoman forever, though. Something must give, and it could be your mental or physical health. A good example is positioning your oxygen mask during a flight emergency before putting one on your child. You won’t be able to help others if you don’t pay attention to your own important needs.
Parenting during a pandemic isn’t easy for anyone, and it’s not a sign of weakness to feel overwhelmed. You’re being asked to be everything to everyone, and you’re only human. It’s not worth letting yourself spiral down into depression or chronic anxiety, risking negative effects to yourself, your marriage, and your children. Everyone needs space to breathe and time to relax and reflect. Talking to a professional counselor can help you put things into perspective and learn how to care for yourself while caring for others.
You Are Not Alone
Sometimes self-care isn’t enough to help you overcome lingering pandemic-related problems. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The compassionate counseling professionals at FHE Health will take your call any time of the day or night. Start your personalized treatment program today by calling (833) 596-3502.