Ask a Freshie: Work, Motherhood and the Pandemic

Ask a Freshie: Work, Motherhood and the Pandemic

Well into our third year of the pandemic, so many of us find ourselves more exhausted and burned out than we knew was possible.

That’s especially true for working mothers and all working families. When it first hit, the schedules, child care, and other arrangements that many working parents had meticulously planned to balance their already full plates got thrown into disarray. Balancing jobs and child care became balancing jobs, child care, a new role as a teacher and a school supervisor to kids at home and learning online, and a new office hastily arranged at the end of the kitchen table.

Fast forward to 2022, and many working mothers are still making impossible choices – and have reached a tipping point.

As FED Senior Consultant Joy Engel recently remarked, the hardest part of navigating working motherhood during the pandemic is “generally the complete lack of support of parents and kids from the government. I was a mom before the pandemic and I had a baby during the pandemic and navigating lockdowns and quarantines and protections during that time has been really hard.” After three years, she feels threadbare.

Both of FED’s co-founders are working moms themselves – and knew they wanted to develop a workplace supportive of working families. Even before the pandemic, their goal has been to “be as flexible as possible to keep all of our team supported,” said FED co-founder Jenn Lejano.

That’s especially helpful for moms with young children who are not yet vaccinated, said Joy. “I have deeply appreciated the support my FED team has given me … My kids are little so it’s pretty hard to get any work done when they are around. But [FED’s] unlimited sick and vacation time policy has allowed me to … be there for my kids and my clients when they need me.”

Joy also shared an added benefit of having a supportive workplace: “I think it’s made me a lot more transparent about an outage or things going on in my life / with my kids.”

Absent a comprehensive federal response to support working families, even the most supportive workplace cannot relieve the taxing mental and emotional load that working mothers have carried. This is a systemic problem that demands bold innovative solutions.

But we can and should continue to listen to working mothers from all walks of life about what they need – and do what we can to support them.

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