While the lockdown has made it possible for families to slow down, take stock of their lives and spend more time together, it might also potentially be the end of many working moms’ careers.
Blogger Brandie Kendrick recently wrote a very powerful opinion piece for American blog Scary Mommy, saying that 2020 will be the death of the working mother. “It’s 2020 and as a working mother, you are either a good employee or a good mother, but not both. At least that’s the way I feel. There is no work-life balance. There is no life-life balance at this point,” she writes.
And we couldn’t agree more. Things are completely in disarray – there’s no leaving your work at the office and leaving family matters at home – everything is entwined in a confusing mess that’s leaving mothers stressed out and tired.
We asked South African moms if they’re coping with working from home – trying to meet deadlines while taking care of the kids, schooling them and then still trying to stay on top of their other mom duties. It’s chaos all around – but somehow, they’re keeping things glued together, albeit with a really cheap knock-off brand that might shatter at any second.
We shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves
Bongiwe Ndimande-Mbhele says it’s very challenging. “There are days I feel I’m on top of things; work sorted, kids taken care of, the house is clean, but then there are days or weeks when I feel I can’t handle it and things seem upside down and I feel out of control. I’ll be behind with work because I’m focusing more on the family and the house. Then there’ll be times when I’m focusing more on work than the house and the family, and there’s a time when I feel totally exhausted and too lazy to do anything,” she says.
But, says Bongiwe, she has realised that all these feelings are okay and she shouldn’t be so hard on herself, instead she should be proud of everything she was able to achieve. “We need to realise that this isn’t our normal. It’s different and change is not always easy. I also concentrate on the blessings I have – good health for me and my family, that I’m still able to work and have an income to take care of my family’s needs. There are so many who have lost their jobs, but most importantly their loved ones. So, looking at the bright side of things keeps me going.”
Not enough hours in the day
Annick King says at the beginning of the lockdown it was a little easier, but now it just feels like constantly catching fires. “The stress levels are constant and never-ending. Having a young toddler just adds to trying to be an all-round parent and partner. Not enough hours in a day and not enough people who are willing to understand.”
Help! I’m not coping
Leah Ntsime says it’s exhausting working from home. She has to prepare all the meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner while answering 100 questions from the kids and checking never-ending work emails. “Home schooling is a challenge – my WhatsApp and Microsoft teams from the school is overflowing. I can’t keep up.”
I’m mentally exhausted
“I’m not coping! I’ve been working from home, trying to put in a productive 8 hours a day, then its breakfasts, lunches and suppers every day for my mom and kids. Hubby worked from home for 2 weeks and then went back into the office…so it’s just me trying to manage. My mom has Alzheimer’s, so every day I have to explain why the school is closed, why she can’t go to church. Home schooling is a hard fail…. I’ve collected work packs for my son who’s in Grade 1, and done nothing with him. My daughter in grade 9 is supposed to be following online learning, but she’s also on a go-slow. Most evenings I am still logging on and working because there are constant deadlines looming. I’m mentally exhausted,” says Berenice Cay.
De-stress in 5 minutes
Moms we know you barely have 2 minutes to pee in peace, but just take 5 minutes every day to de-stress with this breathing exercise from a US Navy Seal.
If it works to keep them calm in stressful situations – it’s worth giving it a bash, we think.
Breathe like a SEAL
“Box breathing is a technique that helps you take control of your automatic breathing patterns to train your breath for optimal health and performance,” Mark Divine, former US Navy SEALs Commander, NYT bestselling author of The Way of the SEAL and founder of SEALFIT, told Forbes.
Here’s how it works:
Picture a box with equal sides, where the inhale, the holding of the breath, and exhale are all four counts (four seconds approx.). As you take in a breath, for four counts, visualize traveling up one side of the square. Next, imagine moving across the top of the square during the four counts of holding your breath. Then follow the breath down the right side of the box on the exhale and watch it travel across the bottom of the square on the breath hold, following the exhale. Repeat the pattern. Experts say this visual provides a helpful anchor for your attention and quickly allows you to get into the flow of rhythmic breathing.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.