Role of mothers in the family structure has grown
Multiple decades ago, author Richard Starry and his charmingly portrayed characters Lowly Worm, Huckle Cat and other loveable animals in The Best Little Word Book Ever, and many other books, were incredibly popular in our household. The storybook family world narrative was wonderful, reassuring, carefree, and fun. Daddies worked in numerous vocations in Busytown: firefighters, airport, construction, police station, cars and trucks, farm, postman, detective, doctor. Moms appeared as caring, supportive and fun, too.
In our literal world, dads did work at various positions while moms were at home. That was mostly the way it was way back then. Women who worked outside the home were somewhat of an anomaly, seeking careers, or from great financial necessity.
It little occurred to us then, to realise that the traditional family with a single wage earner, usually the dad, was about to change dramatically in the coming years.
Today, there are very few mothers among us who do not work, or can afford to work solely in an unpaid homemaker role, a caretaker, a full-time job in itself.
US statistics bear this out. There were an estimated 20 million women in the 1960 workforce, 73 million in 2015, with a continued upward trajectory to 77-plus million in 2024.
This is the way it is now – a two-income family has become a necessary adaptation of family structure, while a single-parent family is and has always been an ever financial-survival situation. This evolution marches relentlessly onward and upward – regardless of the opinions of various politicians and commentators that a “woman’s place is in the home”.
Men, dads, women and mothers or not, have all experienced significant challenges coping with Covid. Ordinary routines are non-existent, often not enough remote space to work and think, concerns about job changes or no job to return to, financial stressors, isolation, loneliness, inability to exercise, sleep patterns inadequate, children attention needs, health contagion concerns, caregiver responsibilities for elderly parents and related, being in a closed contact environment 24/7, and just pure exhaustion.
Individuals who have been sidelined from personal contact service business jobs, for example, are doubly affected as their working positions are so heavily contingent upon customer/client participation.
The inevitability of the whole situation, though, is that it is lower wage earner, generally the mother, has had to assume the brunt of the home management responsibility during this time.
As the blogger Michelle Weldon on TaketheLeadWomen, stated: “The pandemic has been particularly difficult for women with children in the workforce. Over more than a year of economic uncertainty, remote work, remote learning for children and largely unavailable childcare, women have toasted two Mothers Days – 2020 and 2021 in isolated working (or unable to work) circumstances.”
The Wall Street Journal statistics echoed these statements. Nearly 1.5 Million mothers are still missing from the workforce (in the US). Mothers, especially those with school-aged children, have been slow to return to work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Personal family stories on social media on endeavouring to manage these overwhelming changes in family routines are many. childcare, teaching, and home management all day, then in order to hang onto a job, remote working from early evening until 2am. A few hours of sleep, then repeat.
No matter the situation, children have to be cared for, fed, clothed, taught, protected, and raised.
In feedback, it is amazing to hear of mothers who have been placed in these challenging environments, that they have not only been able to “somewhat” maintain perspective, but have managed to carry on. When you have no choice and while knowing that there are so many millions who were put in the same position, a sort of togetherness mindset seems to have helped.
Within all of these personal, remote caring and working routines for both men and women, mothers and dads, the nature of working is also changing due to Covid.
Corporations, partnerships, foundations and other non-profits, governments, and related entities have learnt new information from Covid to focus on progressing their entities for profit, innovation, discovery and research with full knowledge that without superb human capital initiatives, they will be left behind.
According to Macy Bayern, the six business lessons learnt as a result of the pandemic are:
• Businesses need to be agile and responsive
• Modern technology is extremely valuable, e.g. Zoom
• Workforce productivity increased in home environments
• Social interaction is important for humans
• Work-life balance is the future of health and wellbeing
• Remote work resulted in remote recruitment and hiring, widening and increasing talent pools.
Today’s economy needs everyone to fulfil their potential, realise their full human capital. We face a world more complex and challenging than ever before. We need everyone contributing their talents to continue to build a successful lifestyle at both personal and country levels.
The challenge now, after families and individuals have been so challenged already, is to utilise this new information about working and what has been learnt from Covid-19, the good, the bad, and the indifferent, to take the opportunities to move forward in life and your career to a new plateau. Change is never easy, but change can be good.
Finally, remember your moms, your spouses, those gone before and yourself tomorrow. Congratulations, moms! Everywhere on surviving and keeping your family thriving during this unprecedented time in our history. Tomorrow is your time. Do what you want. Treat yourself to some goodies and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.
“Payback Time: Gift Yourself & Moms Leading Forward For Mother’s Day”, https://www.taketheleadwomen.com/blog/payback-time-gift-yourself-amp-moms-leading-forward-for-mothers-day
“Nearly 1.5 Million Mothers Are Still Missing From the Workforce”, Wall Street Journal, by Katherine Riley and Stephanie Stamm. April 27, 2021
“Pandemic could scar a generation of working mothers” New York Times, by Patricia Cohen and Tiffany Hsu
“Six business lessons learnt as a result of Covid-19” by Macy Bayern in CXO on July 22, 2020
Richard Scarry: https://www.thriftbooks.com/a/richard-scarry/197284/