Working while raising children is nothing new, but for many women currently working from home - while raising children, schooling children, calming childrens’ fears, and making it to five daily video meetings on time in a makeshift office - can seem impossible.
Yet, somehow for indies this pandemic-led shift (albeit overwhelming and with its new set of challenges) seems a bit more familiar. Indie mothers have a lot of experience grappling with the intersection of their work and home lives, and the dueling priorities of raising their kids and putting food on the table.
Sharing this experience with the world has never been more important than now. The New York Times’ Patricia Cohen recently touched on why in her article Recession With a Difference: Women Face Special Burden:
“Women make up roughly half of the country’s workforce. They range from entry-level to professional, they live in urban, suburban and rural areas, and they often care for toddlers and teenagers. But the burdens of the pandemic-induced recession have fallen most heavily on low-income and minority women and single mothers. Members of these overlapping groups often have the most unpredictable schedules, and the fewest benefits, and are least able to afford child care.”
It turns out that while this isn’t the first time women have been expected to shoulder the burden of childcare during an economic crisis, it is the first time in our history that the consequences of that could be dire, economically and personally, for women.
“Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard, said this was the first recession where the economy was so intertwined with the network of child care. ‘During the Great Depression, no one cared about the care sector,’ she said. ‘Women weren’t in the labor force, and they weren’t supposed to be.’
For many indie women professionals, either with a family or planning to start one, the issue of childcare has always been central to having a successful and thriving business. Yet, during the times when it seems impossible, when no two days look the same, and when work-life balance seems more like a juggling act, indie women professionals have found a way to make it work.
Ms. Cohen continues to outline what many fear will be the ultimate consequence of the lack of childcare options, school closures, and an accelerating pandemic:
“Many women worry that the changes will sharply narrow women’s choices and push them unwillingly into the unpaid role of full-time homemaker. And the impact could stretch over generations, paring women’s retirement savings, and reducing future earnings of children now in low-income households.”
As indies, many times it can feel as if we’re operating on our own island, apart from the rest of the world. But, what better time than now to show the world that we’re not apart from it, but a very vital, strong, and wise contributor to its overall success?
Perhaps everybody else is finally catching up to where we’ve been operating for years. And if that’s in fact true, what wisdom can we impart to the working mothers in Ms. Cohen’s article who so desperately need to know that there is a way forward?
We use our voice daily to empower our clients. Let’s use it now to empower other women professionals that they can do it, too.
What piece of advice or lessons learned can you share with women navigating today’s workforce?