On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, and the world was forced to adjust in ways we never thought we’d have to. Over a year later, as we watch vaccines roll out and things start slowly shifting back to “normal,” we’d like to give a huge shoutout to women—particularly working mothers—who have been disproportionately affected throughout the past 12 months.
According to an ongoing survey conducted by the University of Southern California, an increase in child care duties, mental distress, and job losses has disproportionately affected women across the board since the start of the pandemic.
The analysis shows that after schools closed in response to the coronavirus, women were more likely to take on child care duties, with 44% of women in April 2020 reporting that they were the only household member providing care. This is compared to only 14% of men.
This analysis also found that by June 2020, 19% of men–both with and without children—reported feelings of distress, while 34% of mothers said they were experiencing mild to moderate distress.
Between caregiving, working, and navigating the pandemic as a woman, it’s no question that moms deserve some much-needed recognition. That’s why we’ve taken the time to highlight some Indy moms that are rocking it as parents, professionals, AND women despite the chaos. Learn more about how these five mamas have been practicing grace in a time of mass disruption.
As the entire world faces the pandemic head-on effects, it’s become increasingly clear that remaining realistic, sensible, and humble must be an ongoing practice. How do you stay grounded in a world that has been turned upside down? With so many unanswered questions and no real roadmap for any of us to follow, staying grounded in the present moment has never been more important—especially for parents.
As Emmy award-winning journalist and owner of Pence Media Group, Nicole Pence Becker, puts it, “Be present, truly present. I made that commitment to myself at the start of 2020, and I am glad I did. It allows me to be grounded as a parent when I truly focus on my children in the moments that I am with them.”
Many parents also found it beneficial to create a grounded routine for themselves and their family as they worked through the pandemic: Starla Mathis, CEO of Mathis Media and Founder of Create. Connect. Collab. seconds this sentiment, saying, “I have found that it is very important for me to establish a routine that creates balance in my life—dedicating hours to work, family, and myself.”
“When we were in the thick of it all (virtual learning and working from home), a clear routine and expectations were a must!” she explains. “As well, as a clear time to cut off school, cut off work, and just have fun, play some music, and relax. Some days work, and schoolwork wasn’t completed, and that was okay.”
Pivoting In Our Own Way
2020 was certainly a year of pivoting—and we don’t know about you—but we’re still trying to find our footing. Between a global health crisis, reckoning with racial injustice, and political warfare, we’ve all been called to approach the world with a different lens.
In light of this, we asked the question: “With everything that has gone on this past year, has your parenting style changed at all? Have you found yourself having to soften your expectations for your children? For yourself?”
“Absolutely,” Life and Leadership Coach, Hillary Hitner, explains. “We have had to give even more trust to our children; they have become very independent this year. I think we’ve also talked more about our feelings this year than we ever have in the past. We do regular check-ins with the kids and each other to see where we are at, what we need, and just normalizing it all.”
In response to the same question, Content Creator and the mind behind The All-Purpose Women, Lateva Woolfork, had this to say: “So much has happened in the last year that lit a flame to conversations we have in our home. With that being said, I do give my children the grace to not be okay. This means speaking our truth, feeling our feelings, and working through what matters most to us.”
Lateva continued her answer by saying, “I had to pause for a second after reading this question. I have to be honest and say my first thought: I can never soften my expectations with my girls or myself.”
“As a Black woman raising Black daughters, I have to keep the pressure on them. I want to be clear on what pressure means to me as a Black mother. This means reminding them of who they are and what they can become! Reminding them of who they are, including their Blackness. I have to talk to them about what they may encounter when in the world and sometimes what they should simply expect, be it good or bad.”
Accepting That Our Best Is Enough
While we’ve all collectively dealt with the challenges presented by COVID-19, women have borne the brunt of being full-time professionals and caregivers. Not only were many tasked with catering to their older, at-risk parents during this time, but a large number were also expected to take on the role of child-caregiver as well. We asked these mama’s what challenges the pandemic had put them up against and how they’re thriving anyway, and Hillary had one thing to say:
“Childcare. Childcare. Childcare. I’m still challenged by it. The circumstances haven’t changed, so it’s been about practicing a new mindset. I have no control over this virus or how the government handles it, but I do have control over who I am in the face of it.”
“So, that is what I practice daily. And when I drop the ball, I have that support system to pass the ball back to me.” Hillary
explains. “But, yeah—there is no ‘overcoming’ this, at least not for me. It’s a moving target, and I just keep dancing in the moment. The overcoming hasn’t been in the circumstances; it’s been in the way I relate to it all.”
I think we’ve all had to accept that our “best” will look very different during this time. For many women—especially mothers—there’s so much pressure to get everything right. As Starla puts it, “We want to be the perfect wife, mom, employee/business owner, friend, and (insert any more titles here) that we then operate from an empty cup. I had to learn to pour into myself first thing in the morning by waking up before anyone else in the house to dedicate time to myself before I have to dedicate time and energy to others or my work.”
“It helps!” She promises. “Also, be mindful that you will not do well at all times. That’s okay! Just to do better the next day. For example, the kids may not have a home-cooked meal today, but I’ll do better tomorrow.”
Following The Light
While the disruption and devastation the world has faced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic can’t be overlooked, it’s still important to reflect on the small wins that took place over this past year. We asked pastry extraordinaire and owner of Indy Dough, Amanda Gibson, what she would deem her favorite part of lockdown, and we love her answer:
“During spring and summer, we’ve gone outside so much! I would have never done so many nature hikes, mushroom hunting, or creek stomping if it wasn’t for everything being closed. I’m actually really thankful for that time. I never knew Indy had so many parks and wonderful playgrounds. We learned so much about nature, and just exposing my son to wildlife was really cool. I hope he remembers the times we went walking in the forest skipping rocks in the creek and foraging for morels and ramps.”
When times get tough, it’s important to find those little sheds of light wherever we can. And if you’re anything like Lateva, you’ll find some much-needed humor and grace along the way as well:
“I’ve learned sooooo many lessons. One, I don’t want to parent during a pandemic! No, really,” she explains, “while challenging, this time has also been a beautiful lesson on how precious life is and how quickly things can change. With so many lives lost, I truly cherished each moment with my girls. I learned more about their school work, what they were struggling in, and what they enjoyed. This has also given us time to develop a love for baking, gardening, and collectively reading books.”
Words of Motherly Wisdom
There’s so much we can learn from mothers, and we’re so grateful for these Indy mama’s and all those other moms out there who make it look easy. And on days when it feels anything but easy, Nicole offers some helpful advice:
“Don’t take yourself too seriously. Your mindset is huge in moments like this—start each day with the intention to do your best; whatever your best looks like that day.” She continues, “I think too many people are thinking about the negative impacts of the pandemic on all our lives and not remembering that a positive mindset matters and can help influence your mood and outlook. Control what you can—and having a positive, healthy mindset is a great first step!”
When we asked Amanda what advice she would offer to parents juggling it all during this time, she left us with these perfect words of wisdom:
“Oh gosh, it’s hard to give when you feel like you’re in the depths of being on edge. Let me just give you the advice I’m trying to give myself,” She continues, “Your child won’t resonate with the current events later in life as much as they will the time spent with you. If at all possible, try to make this defining moment in history be a defining moment in their life.”