The pandemic has caught life up in its whirlwind. It has transformed home life, work life, relationships, even our beliefs, traditions, and values. It has turned our kitchen tables into home offices and forced us to navigate our children’s education from our computers.
Making changes in every aspect of our lives, it’s no wonder we have noticed a shift in the patterns. A shift in patterns of how we are caring for children, how we structure our schedules, and how our working lives have altered.
A significant shift we have noticed is that of the gender imbalance of who cares for our children. The pandemic has highlighted the excessive toll and workload expected of women and mothers when it comes to who stays at home to care for the children.
Traditional values have taught us that the priorities of women have been to birth and raise our kids. For decades we have challenged this outdated narrative. The hopes of a fairer scale in balancing the responsibilities of parenthood have remained present. Within that tradition is also the belief that men do not want to be at home but rather at the office. But this is also a dated narrative, as is evident from the number of fathers wilfully and happily being more at home the past year.
The pandemic has encouraged more of us to work from home. More dads are now physically present for more hours of the day with a keener eye on the duties of home life. It has in many ways highlighted the invisible labour of women which partners may not have been aware of.
With many mothers working from the frontline and fathers traversing to the home office, it is noticeable how many dads have taken on the extra workload of childcare and domestic duties, while also navigating their own work deadlines. This shift has opened the conversation of how we can distribute these parental and household obligations amidst an ageing gender imbalance.
As the pandemic has changed how we work and how the balance of care is provided within families, it can also help to change our workplace attitudes going forward.
The hope is that while supporting remote working for both mothers and fathers, encouraging flexible schedules for both parents, and negating the stigma of providing the essential care for our children, a new focused reality can overcome the imbalance of mothers being the second earner or primary carer within the home. It will encourage more dads to take on the role of primary at-home care, as we rethink our beliefs about workplace culture, what employers have to offer, and how important a balanced home life really is.