As working mothers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, they struggle to keep it all together.
COVID-19 has pushed many women to work two full-time jobs at the same time – their professional job and motherhood.
Rhonda McMeekin is a mother of two boys – Seamus, age 3, and Finnegan, age 6. Her other job is working in the department of student affairs at the Marine Institute. Like many working professionals, McMeekin started working from home this past March due to COVID-19. But, having to continue working a full-time job while taking care of her children all at the same time, proved to be a challenging task.
“It was a little intimidating at first,” McMeekin said. “I don’t think any of us really understood the magnitude of what that was going to be.”
As time went on, McMeekin says it all became really daunting. Her oldest son was in kindergarten, at the time, and she really felt the weight of taking on his education.
“He was just getting this school experience and now it was up to me to kind of supplement what his teacher was doing. To kind of add to the pain of all that, he’s doing French immersion and I don’t speak French,” she said with a laugh. “On top of that, dealing with my own students in my career and trying to give them the comfort and the information they needed in order to be successful in their semester, really didn’t leave me a lot of time to think about myself.”
Lisa O’Flaherty is the mother of an eight-year-old girl, Jaymee. Her other job is working as a retail program and pricing analyst for a foodservice and grocery distribution company.
When the pandemic hit she also had to start working from home.
“It was very hard. That’s the only way I can put it,” O’Flaherty said. “It was very difficult adjusting to working from home.”
For O’Flaherty, it was the small things she found challenging when Newfoundland was still in lockdown. She says not being able to see or physically talk to people was hard. Even not having access to resources she would find at her workplace such as a printer, was hard.
“Luckily my daughter is very independent so it was just the two of us working as a team. I honestly think we grew closer during this pandemic,” she said.
“There’s only so much you can do with your child while you are trying to have a Zoom call with your boss. It really felt like survival mode from the time I woke up to when I went to bed.”
For McMeekin, it was juggling both jobs at the same time that she found to be challenging.
“As my work life overlapped it became impossible to keep up. There’s only so much you can do with your child while you are trying to have a Zoom call with your boss. It really felt like survival mode from the time I woke up to when I went to bed. The only refuge from the day was going to sleep at night because it literally felt like I was just trying to keep my head above water all the time,” McMeekin said.
Currently, McMeekin’s sons and O’Flaherty’s daughter are back in school. This has lifted some of the weight off their shoulders. The time they spent with their children was special and they wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it wasn’t easy.
In the midst of making sure her children were entertained, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her students, McMeekin neglected her own mental health.
“I really forgot about myself for a long time. It wasn’t until I would say, June that I really started to fall apart and knew that I needed to look after myself because again it was that keeping your head above water and I was exhausted,” said McMeekin.