We all know that time has changed since this all started. Days drag, but weeks go by unseen. It’s only 49 days until the election. Fall is nearly here; winter is coming.
But then, for so many of us, the day is packed with endless things we need to do.
Things we can’t possibly get done in one 24-hour span.
So many people are working so hard to respond to changing business needs. At home, the workday has stretched to include pretty much every waking minute of our time — to become “living at work.” At the workplace, who knows what our days look like? Shifts change; commutes change; what’s safe to do changes, day by day by day. And for those people looking for work, the day is taken up looking for a job in a recession economy … and trying to navigate unemployment claims.
And then there are those of us who are taking care of other people.
You’ve heard this before. I’ve said this before. But it’s hard to find the words to really show how huge it is.
If you’re taking care of other people right now, I see you. I see how different your days are, how the time you didn’t have enough of before the pandemic is now just … gone. How hard it can be.
Women are spending far more time on unpaid work right now — and we were already spending far more time than men on this work before the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, mothers shouldered some 60% of child care. Now, 80% of women say they’re doing most of the housework and homeschooling, and 70% are doing most of the child care, according to a report last week by TIME’S UP.
Another report shows that women are spending seven more hours per week than men on child care and five more hours on caring for the sick and elderly.
Where does all that time go?
A lot of it goes right out of the workforce entirely. A full two-thirds of the people who have dropped out of the labor force since the pandemic — who are no longer working or seeking work — are women.
In contrast, only 18% of employed women said their company changed their hours or priorities — during an f’ing worldwide crisis — to make up for the lack of child care. Not even a third of them said that their company is checking in to see if they’re doing OK.
And we’re not all OK. We’re not.
The pandemic is far more stressful for women than men, especially for women who are trying to work and care for kids. Moms working from home report more anxiety and depression than dads working from home…..while dads working from home actually report less anxiety than dads who are working outside the home. That says … a lot.
Meanwhile, kids or no kids, people without jobs, people with the lowest incomes, and people on the health care front lines (where women make up 80% of health care workers) report the most depression and anxiety of all. Check, check, check: All disproportionately women. And worse for Black and Latinx women, whose unemployment rates are 12% and 10.5% respectively (vs 6.9% for white men and 7.3% for white women).
What can we do about it?
Set aside time to take care of ourselves — especially financially — and make it as non-negotiable as possible. This may feel like a selfish act, because to do so, we must take away from the care and time we’re increasingly expected to give to others as we fight our way through this pandemic.
It can also just feel impossible — either because there’s so very little time in the day, or because if you’re struggling through stress, anxiety, and depression, that time can slip away. Or both.
I get it.
Remember when we all used to fly around on airplanes like it was no big deal? And remember when they used to tell us to “put on your oxygen mask before assisting others”?
That’s not selfish; it’s smart. For self-care overall, and especially when it comes to financial self-care.
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