Working Moms Are Sharing What It's Like To Parent And Work During The Pandemic, And My Heart Breaks For Them

Being a working parent is challenging, especially during a pandemic. In September, the Labor Department reported that women are leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men. They also reported that women (in straight couples) spend more time than men caring for household children.

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Needless to say, many working moms are being left to choose between childcare and their careers. And those who haven’t or can’t leave their jobs are struggling between parenting and working.

So we recently asked working moms of the TheNews.Top Community to tell us what it’s like to parent and work during the pandemic.

Here are just some of the many responses we received from working moms who graciously shared:

1. “We held a Zoom mediation, and I worked in my home office while my 2.5-year-old was watching Paw Patrol. During the opening brief, my toddler brings in a toy bucket filled with urine.”

“I still call that a potty training success.” —k4c5cce68e

2. “I’m in a constant state of guilt — unable to dedicate 100% to whatever is in front of me at the moment. My kids are in first and third grade, doing hybrid learning. I can’t drop from a Zoom call to help them with work, and I can’t be available 24/7 for work issues. I missed an important work text at 6 a.m. this morning because I am utterly exhausted. Nobody is winning.”

“If I could steal one thing from Hogwart’s it would be Dumbledore’s Pensieve just so I could keep everything straight.” —Anonymous, Connecticut

3. “My kids are now regular features in meetings. I got a round of applause for secretly breastfeeding my youngest, with his broken leg, whilst running a meeting. I almost got away with it until he started snorting like a pig because he wanted to watch Peppa Pig.”

“I have a six-, four- and two-year-old, and I manage an advice service. I’d say I’m cruising at below-mediocre in my job and parenting. We’ve surrendered to screens, sugar, and sleep deprivation.” —Anonymous, Scotland

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4. “Honestly, it’s really hard. I try SO hard to keep a sunshiny demeanor and happy face — not just for my family but at my job as well — but it’s wearing thin having done this for almost a year. If I’m working, I feel guilty that I should be parenting, and if I’m parenting, I feel guilty that I should be working.”

“I take care of the house and kids until work starts at 8 a.m., including lunches, clothes, breakfast, etc. Then, I try so hard to focus on working from 8 to 5 p.m. I try to do as many household chores as possible between meetings and calls because if I don’t, it piles up. After, it’s dinners, baths, bedtimes, and usually back to work for at least an hour or two trying to catch up.

The weekends aren’t long enough to feel rejuvenated. There’s not enough “me time” to rest and unwind. My husband doesn’t work from home. He’s been so helpful, and he works really hard to be available, which is so immensely appreciated. However, it still feels incredibly uneven and deeply unfair.

I’m exhausted, and running on fumes doesn’t begin to describe it. Even now, to see the silver lining approaching, I worry. I worry that it will never really happen, I worry that I’ll never really recover and be my happy-go-lucky self again, and I worry to send my family back out into a world that feels scarier now.” —Anonymous, Washington

5. “This is the worst thing I’ve ever gone through. My mental health is so fragile. I work in corporate America, and nothing has changed for me — not my hours, expectations, or workload. I have two toddlers. While in some meetings, people don’t mind them there, there are plenty of times my colleagues aren’t amused, and there is nothing I can do.”

“My mental health has never been an issue before. I’ve worked from home since March 13, 2020. It’s unrelenting. I work all day, and my second job (parenting) starts the moment I log off and continues until it starts again. I need a break, and I can’t take one.

I’ve gained 25 pounds but have zero minutes a day where I could even take a walk. Someone always needs something. Once this is over, I can never go back to it again. I can’t take this again.” —Anonymous, Massachusetts

6. “I constantly feel like I’m failing. I can either be a good mom or a good employee but not both. If I’m working, I’m not focused on my kids, and I feel guilty. Or if I’m focused on my kids, I’m not working, and I feel guilty. Not having reliable childcare during the pandemic (I’ve had eight providers close since March 2020) has added relentless stress on me.”

“I have the luxury of flexibility and work from home in my job while my husband is an essential frontline worker. So by default, I am the one working from home with kids home, too.

I’ve always said that to be the best mom to my kids I need to be the best version of myself. The best version of me has included professional satisfaction, but I’ve wished more than once this past year that I could afford to quit my job — a job I love, worked, and fought for my entire adult life — because I feel like I’m failing my kids.” —Anonymous, Alaska

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7. “It has been exhausting and incredibly lonely. The house is a total disaster, and I don’t have the energy to do anything about it. Worst of all is how lonely it is. No mom groups, play dates, or trips to break up the monotony. It’s been a year of limited human interaction — besides my husband and a tiny human who can’t even speak.”

“I have to wake up early to get work done, then it’s straight to ‘awake time,’ which involves feeding everyone and trying to do activities that are engaging. During nap time, I run straight to my computer to get more work done and just pray the babe sleeps long enough that I can be productive. Bedtime means finishing work I couldn’t get to during the day or trying to fold laundry or clean dishes.” —jefellows04

8. “I teach at the same school my kids attend. Sometimes, I have them in my class. They will be Zooming into my class from their room, while I am in my office one floor below. My youngest — who’s six — uses that time to be completely unhinged, knowing I can’t leave to discipline him. One class, he put his clear garbage can on his head and repeatedly ran into his wall for laughs. I removed him from the Zoom call and told his classmates our internet was spotty.”

“In general, working while homeschooling is like trying to juggle 1,000 knives that are all on fire. I’ve had meetings where I have had to present, and my six-year-old takes the opportunity to use that time to have a complete meltdown.

It sounds really great talking about childhood anxiety while a child is in the background screaming, ‘I hate all of you, and I’m running away!’ All because I wouldn’t interrupt my presentation to buy him Ro-bux. Moms are suffering.” —Anonymous, Maryland

9. “My typical day starts at 5 a.m. I wake up, shower, and work before waking the kids. Then I’m on kid duty (three school-aged kids) from 7:30 to 10 a.m. and 12 to 2 p.m. My spouse takes the kids the rest of the time. At 5 p.m., it’s time to make dinner, clean, and do bedtime routines until 9 p.m. We then do work or watch some TV before falling asleep. The biggest problem is trying to focus on either work or home during our schedule. Work keeps messaging me with questions that ‘just need quick feedback.’ The kids run up to me whenever they get upset. They never interrupt my partner when he’s working because when they’re upset, they want mommy.”

“I’m constantly distracted, and the only thoughts I have of exercising, eating healthy, and cooking are when I feel guilty and berate myself for not sacrificing more sleep to be healthier. I find it very hard to focus on one thing anymore because I am responsible for my kids and my job all of my waking hours now.”

I try to stay calm and happy for the kids, and I try to be focused and on top of things at work. By the time I get alone time, I am completely wiped out and can’t even remember what I used to do for fun anymore. I’m an introvert, so I try to cope by trying to give myself time to just do nothing. When that happens, I’m usually anxious and feel guilty for not cleaning as much as my spouse. I take the majority of the mental workload for the family, but he definitely does more cleaning than me.

We also have my parents living nearby, and they are both extroverts and have anxiety. So we spend energy trying to meet their human connection needs, as well. We are not succeeding at anything, just merely keeping ourselves and the people that depend on us from drowning.” —Anonymous, California

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10. “At the start, my coworkers were very understanding that my child would more than likely make an appearance on our calls. That grace vanished about six months in, so we made the decision to send our child back to child care. I feel guilty about staying home to work while having my child at child care, opening us up to potential exposures. Since I am at home, I put pressure on myself to keep up with household chores, which exhausting. On the days I don’t keep up on chores, I feel miserable and out of control.”

“There is no longer any work-life balance. With no commute time, we schedule calls all day, which leaves no time to do my actual day-to-day work. I’m working more now than ever before. I throw in loads of laundry or do the dishes between meetings. I pick up my kiddo by 4:30 p.m., then make dinner while my partner plays with our child. I put our child to bed by 8 p.m. Then, I finish up tidying the house and get back to work for a few hours.

My mind is always racing and making lists of things I need to do. About once a week, I have a light meeting day and run to the grocery store but am constantly checking my email. I feel like working for home makes people too accessible and I allow myself to fall into that.

I took vacation time to help my friend move across the country. Instead of being told, ‘Enjoy your time away,’ I was told, ‘You don’t need your video on for calls this week.'” —Anonymous, Indiana

11. “It has been very hard, I actually had to quit because our older son was failing school. He suffers from very bad depression and anxiety. I definitely miss working, but family comes first!”

“It has been very tough. Now, I am at home, helping him and his siblings be successful at school.” —renahbrockmanb

12. “After my morning coffee, I feel ready for anything. As the day goes on, I argue and plead with my seven-year-old to just ‘try’ to do her homework. She cries, then occasionally, I cry. Then I realize I’ve wasted hours making both my child and myself cry when I might as well have let her watch TV and done my own work. The next day, I think we should focus on her well-being, so we have fun instead of homework. As the evening approaches, I beat myself up for letting all the homework build up.”

“I also feel I am neglecting our four-year-old, too. I work part-time, so the days off we used to have together are now spent trying to homeschool her sister. I have a good group of mum friends which Is a blessing and a curse — great for emotional support but not great when you end up comparing your kids’ progress.

My husband tries to remind me that we are doing a good job and the kids are fine but I don’t seem to be able to truly believe it.” —Anonymous, England

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13. “I don’t fully manage anything. I do the bare minimum. Since I’ve had kids, I’ve always been the mom to have it all together, spend quality time with my kids, and be on time with all of my work deadlines. Now I’m living by the minute, hoping my kid doesn’t bust in the room during my presentation yelling about their poop, while simultaneously feeling awful that they are on their fourth hour of TV so I can work to pay our bills.”

“I then work until 1 a.m. some days so I can spend maybe a quality hour with my kids before they go to bed. My work has been supportive, but I’m still expected to perform and meet deadlines. I’m exhausted, and the price of preschool has skyrocketed due to fewer children in classes, so that’s a no, too. These kids need more, and the weight of this last year has been crushing.” —Anonymous, Washington

14. “I’m home all day, every day. Some days, I feel like I can’t even leave my room because the kids will LITERALLY cling to me and cry for me to not go back to work. And then after work, it’s immediately into mom-mode. No commute to code switch, I just walk out of the door and, boom, everyone needs everything and only mom can supply it.”

“It has been beyond stressful. My oldest son is in kindergarten and has ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). He is in therapy all day and then has to do schoolwork at night. He is extremely stressed, and the ASD makes him anxious by itself; add a pandemic onto that and his poor brain is chaos.

I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home and have a husband who is home a couple of days a week and is extremely helpful. But I still have to find time to shower, eat, and take care of myself. I never thought being home all day would be so stressful and hard on everyone in the home.” —Anonymous, Michigan

15. “I’m managing with the help of Bluey and Elmo. There’s an overwhelming sense of guilt that I’m letting my kid watch way too much television, but I also need to put food on the table — which includes earning the money to buy the food, cooking the food, cleaning after, etc.”

“Some days are better than others. On the worst days, I struggle to get off of the couch while doom scrolling. I just hate that every day looks exactly the same as the day before.” —Anonymous, Washington

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16. “I work at a grocery store. Being on the front lines of a pandemic is physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. My daughter is three, and it’s really hard to keep up with her some days when all I want to do is crash on the couch.”

“I feel guilty some days just parking her in front of the TV, but sometimes I just need a mental break from the ups and downs of a toddler.” —Anonymous, California

17. “The everyday stress of ‘What to do?’ Am I doing the best thing for my family? Should he go back to daycare? Is that irresponsible? What other option is there? He needs socialization. We need to work. Neither of us can work from home. Grandparents are back at work. What to do?”

“Is this ok? Is his daycare following protocol? Should I put him in a more COVID-protocol-enforced center? Will they follow protocol? Will I make it to pick him up on time? Should I call to say I might be late? Will he be mixed with other kids since I’m later to get him? WHAT THE F*CK AM I SUPPOSED TO DO!?” —meganmorales

18. “I work 10-hour shifts from 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. I get up at 7 a.m. to make breakfast and help my son login to virtual learning. I try to get some sleep through the day, but there are always technical problems, lunchtime, or work that needs help with. I feel like I’m failing.”

“I am emotionally and physically exhausted.” —Anonymous, Georgia

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19. “I have really tried to set a routine since the school year started. In the morning, my husband starts work immediately – which I don’t necessarily appreciate — and I work to make sure the kids and I have eaten, gotten bathed, dressed, and brushed our teeth, while also taking care of the dog. This whole year, I have truly believed that if I don’t say to do anything, like take out the garbage or wash the dishes, it doesn’t get done.”

“We both try to deal with the kids during the school day, and in the evening, work to make sure homework and household chores are done. This has been difficult with us both working full-time (my son loves to wait to ask for snacks until I’m on a staff meeting), my surgery last summer, and a family member losing her battle with cancer.

Also, both my kids have ADHD. We’re all just trying our best, but I don’t think my body can handle this pace any longer. I’m shaking I’m so exhausted.” —Anonymous, Michigan

20. “My job has only become more stressful because they expect us to be available 24/7 now. I’m a single mom with a three-year-old. I am currently squeezing in my child between meetings and trying my best to keep it together. I’m being told my performance is slipping and that I need to ‘figure out how to handle it.'”

“On average, I have 8 to 11 meetings every day and work 50 to 60 hours every week. It’s awful. My daughter constantly tries to close my computer so I stop working and play with her.” —Anonymous, Pennsylvania

21. “I worry about my daughter’s mental health and education constantly. We thought she was doing great in math and then figured out she just learned how to Google ‘calculator.’ I called her teacher to discuss it, and I very unexpectedly broke down — full sobs to this poor woman.”

“She was a complete angel and very understanding, but, yeah, it’s been hard. Work has been a nightmare, and it’s a struggle to balance my home life. I manage a restaurant, and my daughter has been doing digital learning since last March.” —Anonymous, Georgia

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22. “This is such a rough period, and I’m extremely lucky that my husband can work from home when needed. Between our daily jobs, we also own a business that has taken off. And parenting our 11-year-old has been extremely difficult. We cope by accepting that we are doing the best we can every day and giving it our all… it’s not easy though.”

“Getting our daughter set up, checking her work, answering her questions, doing our own work, answering our bosses, working on the business, cleaning, cooking — there is never enough time. The house is a constant mess, the laundry is in states of not done.” —Anonymous, Indiana

23. “Alexa! Thank you, Amazon. Spontaneous dance parties, timers, reminders, games.”

“Alexa has been pretty useful through all of this.” —meganmorales

24. “I’m literally writing this from my usual spot at 11 p.m. — in an actual fetal position, hunched over, looking at my phone and the TV, too tired and mentally fucked to move, take a shower, or sleep. It’s so exhausting, unnatural, and unsustainable. So many times, I think I’m going to quit my job — but how would I pay for the bills and groceries? I could just lose my mind, but what will happen to my kids? Then I also feel so, so sorry for the kids being couped up with grumpy mom.”

“I’m up at six. I brush my teeth and hair, wash dishes from the night before, make breakfast for the family, layout my eight-year-old’s clothes, set up her laptop, make the baby bottle, change her nappy, do their hair. Then I reheat the coffee that I never drank, feed the baby breakfast, and start working — all while my husband sleeps. I get distracted by both kids, manage meetings, apologize to my coworkers for the noise, and make lunch.

I continue to work, entertain the baby, and have a meeting wrap up at 5 p.m. I do school work with my daughter until 7 p.m., get dinner ready, bathe the kids, eat, and put them to bed by 10 p.m. After, I clean up a tiny bit. I try to convince myself to catch up on office work. Sometimes, I’ll work till 2 a.m.” —Anonymous, Caribbean

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25. “It’s very stressful. Kids don’t understand that you can’t be at their beck and call, and work doesn’t understand that kids don’t care if you’re working. I’m always stressed out, and always irritated and I hate how my stress comes out as anger.”

“I’m working longer hours and spending less time with my kids, even though we are all at home all the time. I’m expected to work like I don’t have kids, especially between the hours of nine to five.” —Anonymous, Alberta, Canada

26. “I’ve been working from home full-time since the pandemic and my husband, who works part-time for a general contractor, has cut his hours drastically to be home more for our three-year-old daughter and be a stand-in first-grade teacher for our seven-year-old daughter. It’s been rough, and I consider our family one of the lucky ones. My 70-year-old mom is nearby, and we could not remain sane without her help.”

This impact on my daily life has manifested in so many ways. I’m always sleep-deprived. I’m constantly angry for no good reason. Any patience I might have had pre-pandemic has disappeared. I hate to say that I boil over so easily — and the kids and my hubby are my unfortunate targets.

My typical day still starts around 1 a.m. with my three-year-old crawling into bed with me. It’s a crapshoot whether I’ll fall back asleep or deal with a squirming toddler — who used to sleep through the night in her own bed pre-pandemic.

I usually have to announce every time I’m making a call or in a meeting in hopes of not having the kids banging on the door. It took MONTHS to get them to understand that they couldn’t bug me during calls. It’s still hard. My three-year-old has been potty training for the last week and announced during a virtual client meeting that she had ‘pooped in the potty’ very loudly. My seven-year-old told me recently that I never play and I always work. It sucks, she’s right.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I’ve been taking steps for my health — physical and mental. I’m worried I’m messing up as a mom, but I’m so damn tired all the time that I find myself just begging the girls to let me sit for a minute. I have to remind myself constantly that though I’m home with my girls, I still have to make sure I’m not missing out on their growth and amazing-ness.” —Anonymous, Minnesota

27. “It’s emotionally draining and a seemingly endless fight to prove my worth. Early in the pandemic, my child was welcomed on calls, would greet people, and would want attention. Then, my job became less understanding. It became too much, and I applied to any job that I even mildly fit the criteria for. Six months later, I have a new job where they understand and respect my need to be a parent and my desire to give work all that I can given the circumstances.”

At my last job, I had to constantly apologize for my child making any sounds. I had to appear as I didn’t have a child hanging off of my leg begging for attention in meetings. These unrealistic expectations came to a head when I kept crying night after night from being stressed out and feeling like my child was being used against me.

To my husband’s credit, he was doing his best for us to shuffle our child back and forth between meetings while trying to work. We were both exhausted, but his job was much more understanding of our situation in comparison to mine.” —Anonymous, Texas

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28. “We’re lucky now that we have reliable childcare (which we didn’t have until December). But I just got my annual review and one of my ‘opportunities’ for improvement was completing tasks and getting back to people on time. As hard as I’ve been trying to keep everything on track, that stung a bit.”

“This past year, I’ve felt like I was barely holding it together. The worst were days when my wife and I had to white-knuckle it and try to work without any help with our three-year-old and baby. We gave the older kid a tablet and set her up in the living room; she’d come back hours later when it ran out of power. We traded off with the baby trying to make it until her nap times. We felt like horrible moms.

Even with things “better” now, I still find myself working all day until 6 p.m., doing family time, and logging back on around 11 p.m. to work until 2 or 3 a.m. — just to start over again at 9 a.m. or earlier. I keep saying this isn’t sustainable (and it’s not), but then I just dig deep to tap whatever energy reserves I have because I feel like I don’t really have a choice.

I’m not coping well. I’m irritable and yell at my older kid more than she deserves. I’m not as present with them as I used to be. I hope to God that I’m not messing them up permanently, and I’m trying my hardest to make happy memories as best we can.” —Anonymous, Texas

29. “I work from home full-time, with three teenagers that do virtual school. Two of my kids are on the spectrum. One has Aspergers and one is delayed — he’s 15 but operates on about a 4.5-year-old level. My husband works outside the home, and I can’t expect my other two children to take care of him, so it all falls on me, in addition to all the other ‘usual’ stuff. My husband comes home every night and asks, ‘What’s for dinner?’ The truth is, I don’t care anymore. I work in finance, so when I make a mistake or miss a deadline, it’s a big deal.”

I feel like I’m perpetually behind at work — with helping my kids on their schoolwork, with my work, and with my housework. There is no break. There is no off. My annual review is tomorrow, and to be quite honest, I hope I have the emotional strength to get through it because it’s sandwiched between two of my sons’ therapy sessions. And I have to help my other son prepare for a huge exam.

I feel like I’m falling apart while trying to keep everyone else together. I have absolutely no time to myself, and even when I use the bathroom — which I do as often as possible just to get a few minutes — there is someone needing something from me the second I get out. I love my family. I used to love my job. I even feel worse for feeling bad, because I know I’m fortunate to have a job and a partner.

I feel like I’m barely treading water and everyone around me is shoving my head under in order to keep themselves afloat. Nobody even seems to notice that I can’t catch my breath. And I feel bad because other people are deeper in than me. I wish I was better at this, and I wish I could do better for my family.” —1ofscottstots

30. “I became a parent in July. I’m all for daycare, but I don’t feel safe sending my infant to one since I don’t know if they’re being as cautious as we are with COVID. I’ve recently been offered a promotion to my dream job and a pay raise that I’m seriously considering turning down because it would require more works days a week and a need for daycare right now.”

“I’m a nurse, so I don’t have the option of working from home. If not for COVID I’d take it in a heartbeat. My poor parents have already completely put their lives on hold to commute six hours every week to watch the baby while I work.” —Anonymous, Maryland

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31. “I’m taking phone calls from angry customers and confused associates every day. I’m dealing with my own emotions on top of coworkers. I’m trying to build a solid relationship with my baby. I’ve lost friendships along the way, and I don’t have time or energy to fix them. My eight-year-old daughter’s teacher takes her frustrations out the kids, who are doing their best. She won’t let them take bathroom breaks unless she gives them a break.”

“She’s loud, aggressive, and wants them to work like little adults. I wake up every day at 7 a.m. or earlier just to get ready for work at 8:30, and my daughter starts virtual class at the same time. Thankfully, we haven’t had many internet issues since the pandemic started, but we have had a few electrical issues.

This is taking a huge toll. It’s not easy, but I have to show my daughter strength during this tough time. I’ve cried so many times in front of her from work stress and home stress.

As a graphic/production designer and overall creative person, my creativity is leaving me, and I feel lost. I do my best to keep afloat and I’m a single mom. I’m thinking of quitting my job, it’s really tough daily.” —Anonymous, Missouri

32. “I’m fortunate to work from home for a flexible employer who has tried to limit meetings and understands the occasional appearance of a small child. But my job requires a lot of focused analysis and writing — which is hard to do with a three-year-old who needs me for basically everything. There are Zoom classes, but toddlers don’t have the attention span to sit at a computer for hours. We got a lot of educational stuff to try to mimic the classroom, but I am not nearly as stimulating as twelve other kids, so my child is bored and sometimes really despondent.”

“There are constant interruptions. I don’t think I’ve worked for a consecutive hour the entire pandemic. I know kids don’t necessarily understand what’s happening, but I do believe they feel it and it’s hard for them to process. It does sort of feel like children have been forgotten during all this and are expected to just take it in stride, which is unfair and irresponsible.

My partner also works from home, but his employer has increased the number of meetings to try to keep in touch, so he’s not as available for child care. In my experience, the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated division of labor issues. Before all this, I was already primarily in charge of cooking, cleaning, appointments, and activities for my child, and I guess what you would call general home management. It was exhausting then, and it’s even more exhausting now. It never ends.

Even though I have a higher salary and carry the benefits, it feels like my partner’s employer expects that he can always be available because they know he has ‘support,’ and it’s not as acceptable for him to create boundaries so he can be more present at home. We are fine and incredibly privileged that the pandemic hasn’t wiped us out physically or financially. But I guess I’m wondering when the moms will get their support.” —Anonymous, Maryland

33. “I’ve learned that I can only extend my energy so much. My priorities are to kids get fed, get to work, and purchase food. I leave the dirty dishes for later. My kids wear the same thing two days in a row sometimes. Clean clothes sit in the dryer, and I pull as needed. Toys are scattered everywhere. And I’m just okay with it now. There’s only so much I can do.”

“What is important is that my kids feel emotionally supported and that I prioritize ‘me time.’ If I find I have a few minutes to myself, instead of doing a chore, I sit down. I’ve turned my daily shower into a cleansing ritual — ridding myself of any negativity I picked up over the course of the day and using that time to offer myself grace and compassion — and always reminding myself that ‘this too shall pass.'” —Anonymous, North Carolina

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34. “Recently, my husband told our toddler’s speech therapist, ‘Life is pretty much the same as it was before the pandemic.’ I swiveled my head around and glared at him. His day consists of his 100-step commute to his office basement that he has occupied for years and his nine-hour workday that is interrupted only occasionally by requests from me to help out upstairs. On the other hand, I’ve had my life upended by this pandemic.”

“I used to drop my toddler off at the babysitter in the morning, go into the office for a full workday, pick up the little one, and head home for a full evening of parenting our two children. Now, I wake up, walk over to my standing desk in the living room and work nine hours a day while caring for our toddler. I have to have a standing desk because our toddler would be constantly messing with my computer and the contents of my desk otherwise.

Between running around, changing diapers, playing for a few minutes here and there, prepping lunch, giving baths, attending twice-weekly speech therapy via Zoom, and generally being present with my little one, there has been a negative impact on my work productivity. I am constantly behind on emails, projects, and deadlines now. This was never a situation I faced before the pandemic, being known for always going above and beyond.

After a long day of work, I finally shut down my computer and attend to my other job: homeschooling our highschooler who did not want to return to public school during the pandemic. I spend a few hours in the evenings helping our eldest with lessons, while also helping her navigate the severe depression that she struggles with due to isolation.

I am thankful to my husband for stepping up more than he did prior to all this: cooking dinners, helping clean, and running errands. But the inequality in our marriage — and in societal gender roles in general — has been highlighted in this current situation.” —Anonymous, Pennsylvania

35. “I work two days a week at home with my toddler, then three days in the office while either my MIL or mom watches my daughter. I have my daughter significantly more than my husband. It’s draining because she only seems to want me. If I want quiet time while she’s awake, I literally have to hide from her. I’m not doing great emotionally. I cry often because I’m so exhausted.”

“I had to BEG to work remotely even though my job can be done remotely. My organization is reluctant to have people work remotely because if we aren’t in person, who knows if we are even working? I try to squeeze in as much work time as I can from 7:30 to 4:30 every day and will work after my daughter goes to bed if I have to.

In general, I feel like I can never catch a break because there’s always so much to do. I have to balance being a playmate for my toddler and get work done. I was in therapy back in October but had to stop because I could not find the time to devote to it. I desperately need to be back in therapy.” —Anonymous, Georgia

36. “I have two kids. My husband has found work as a transport project manager after being made redundant during the first lockdown, so he is working on-site all day. But since I can work from home, the kids don’t qualify for key worker schooling. I work for a museum that is hemorrhaging from lack of visitors and therefore undergoing a vast ‘recovery program’ (literally, we are cutting staff by 10%). I’m under massive pressure to perform, and I’ve also been asked to support additional departments due to expiring contracts not being renewed.”

“Homeschooling begins at 9 a.m. and goes until 1:30 p.m. with staggered lessons every hour. My oldest (who’s six) has my laptop, and my youngest uses the iPad. Meanwhile, I desperately respond to urgent work requests in between making buses out of oatmeal boxes, explaining division, and whatever fresh hell we’re assigned that day.

I’m falling behind in work. I’m not giving my oldest enough time because my youngest is needier. And my kids are trapped in the house for days at a time with a stressed-out mum who yells far too much to qualify as a good parent. Also laundry.” —Anonymous, London, UK

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37. “I had my baby in September. I spent most of my pregnancy separated from family to reduce the risk of catching COVID, while also going to work every day because I was considered an essential employee. When my daughter was born, a NICU nurse shamed me for saying I would be putting my daughter in daycare. She told me that if I really loved my baby and wanted to keep her safe, that I would quit my job and go on welfare. After sobbing for weeks, agonizing about what to do, my husband and I decided that daycare was really the only choice we had.”

“We couldn’t afford for one of us to stay home, and we had no family to help take care of her during the day. The daycare we found has turned out to be lovely. But because of the pandemic, we couldn’t tour the inside to see where she would be taken care of. Parents aren’t allowed to enter the baby room at all. That first day, I passed my baby through a cracked doorway to a masked woman I didn’t know. I broke down in the parking lot, not wanting to leave.

Luckily, she seems to be doing really well. They have an app where they post updates and pictures for me to track her activities throughout the day. I know my issues are small compared to other working moms, but this has been the most stressful time of my entire life, and I’m scared every day that one of us will be exposed to COVID and my beautiful daughter will get sick. I spend all day at work waiting to go home to her and dread leaving her every morning. I hope our decision to put her into daycare during a pandemic does not come back to haunt us.” —Anonymous, North Carolina

38. “I work full time and am a single parent to my three-year-old daughter. She is super well-behaved and so sweet. My job refuses to let you move off the phones when you have your kids. So I’m taking back-to-back calls, nine hours a day, with only 60 seconds between each call. You can’t take care of a pet like that much less a little human. If we do leave to take care of our kids, we told we aren’t doing good enough.”

“My job converted to a call center when COVID hit. Turnover has been insane. People are quitting in groups, we’re losing five to seven people a week. Not to mention the mental health struggle in general. The toughest part is how do you explain to your child that you can’t spend time with them all day for a job that doesn’t care about you?” —originalpunk59

If you’re a working parent, what has your experience been like during the pandemic? Share in the comments below.

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