No matter how you frame it, motherhood is exhausting. However, since the early 90s, women have been battling over whether or not we belong in the workforce or at home raising children. It has created a difficult challenge of balancing work and motherhood.
The pandemic handed us dozens of lessons, including how little agency women have over their lives. Millions of moms left the workforce, many of whom never returned. These changes were due to lack of flexibility at their jobs, job elimination, and anxiety of returning to work when the world felt unstable.
All moms were hurried into a full-time caretaker, teacher, nurse, and homemaker roles when childcare and schools closed. Add in crippling isolation, and more women suffered depression, anxiety, loneliness, and addiction.
If we learned anything from this, we aren’t that different from each other. Whether you work (by choice or necessity), you’re a stay at home mom, or anything in between — mothers need more community support and less judgment and pious parenting philosophies.
We can finally relax and enjoy motherhood more
Depending on where you live, the world is pretty open now. Kids are in school and activities full-time. Daycares are operational, sparing days when kids test positive for COVID. With all of this, moms are becoming increasingly more relaxed, going with the flow and relishing in what little time we have with our kids before they’re whisked off into adulthood.
The pandemic hit around the time that ‘intensive parenting’ was at an all-time high. Parents spend as much time and money on child-raising as possible. This meant continued enriched experiences, packed schedules, planned events, hands-on school and academics, and many extracurriculars.
That all went away overnight, and moms were forced to find ways to compensate for all the busyness. In doing so, Working moms now appreciate the isolation and labor of staying home all day with kids. Mothers who stay at home appreciate the difficulties of managing a career, family, and household.
All mothers lean into reaching out more often, asking for help when needed, and lending an empathetic ear when things get tough. We realized we don’t need perfectly planned meals, detailed playdate schedules, invites to every event, or constant monitoring of grades, progress, and achievements.
Instead, we can focus on being present, letting go, and being okay with not having all the answers.
Encouraging autonomy with your kids
Perhaps the most significant thing the pandemic taught us is that we are in control of very little in life. We can learn to relinquish control and let our kids make decisions and take on more responsibilities — and it’s okay if they make mistakes.
Hopefully, the pause caused by COVID helped us recognize the type of parent we want to be going forward — and realize that regardless of our personal choices, all moms are doing the best they can. We also learned that we couldn’t do it all and aren’t meant to be heroes. We need each other more than we ever admitted, and it truly does take a village.