I was listening to the radio the other day, and it mentioned 22 million women left the job force in the past year, erasing the progress United States made for women’s opportunities in the job force for the past 10 years. Due to the pandemic, especially with school being closed, most women have to juggle between family responsibilities and work responsibilities. About four weeks ago, my son’s daycare had a COVID19 outbreak, and had to shut down for 2 weeks. It was the first time, I had to take care of a 3-year-old, a 9-year-old, work, and running my own business ALL AT THE SAME TIME! It’s not just the physical part that’s exhausting, it’s the emotional part that’s extra draining. On one hand, I want to be able to keep up with work; on the other hand, when my baby was crying, I felt so guilty that I couldn’t take care of his emotional needs. I recognize my own privileges and how lucky I am with two good kids. Once daycare open, my son was able to go back, and our life return to “semi” normal. But what about all the other families who can’t afford childcare? What about all the other jobs out there that don’t show any grace for parents? No wonder people had to face to dilemma—choosing between leaving their jobs to take care of families, or keep working and sacrificing their families’ needs.
But how do you choose? Here are some strategies I would like to share with you.
1. EXAMINE YOUR BUDGET. The reality is—not everyone can afford to just quit the job. If you haven’t already, write down your expenses, evaluate if any expenses can be cut, and do a budget to see if you can live without your current job. Find out the local resources—there maybe school programs, local churches, local 211 that can help with food, energy assistance, rent, or other resources. If needed, see if you are eligible for these assistances to lesson your financial burden.
2. CO-OP. Are you able to find other moms who might in the similar boat, without family close by to help, without the resources for daycare, and maybe able to share nanny or share childcare responsibilities? It would not hurt to ask around and open up your options. If you are concerned about safety, be honest with the potential childcare provider, see if putting a camera on at first can be an option.
3. ASK IF YOU CAN GO PART TIME. It depends on how the company operates, and some might allow you to work part time. Again, it won’t hurt to at least ask.
4. ACCEPT THAT THERE’S NO WORK LIFE BALANCE. Period.
5. ASK YOURSELF—WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT FOR MY LIFE? Some women are really career focused, and their jobs and the rank they built might not be there for them if they quit. Some women value their family and how much time they can spend with their families more. There are no right or wrong answers here. The only good reasons are what’s going to feel right for you. If you quit now, and when you go back to the work force to have to start all over again, are you willing to take that consequence? If you don’t quit, and you end up having less quality time for your families, are you willing to take that consequence? Can you just close your eyes and imagine each scenario for a second? Write your answers down, so you can look back and evaluate to help you better decide.
6. GET THE SUPPORT YOU NEED. Yes, that includes physical and emotional. If you can take a walk, eat a balance meal, talk with a close friend or family, or seeing a mental health counselor, do all that. You deserve to take good care of yourself. The pandemic maybe here temporarily, but you are going to be here much longer. You deserve good care.
No matter what you end up choosing or what you already choose, please remember that you are not alone in this. I hope we will get through this, and I hope you will find the support you need.
If you are interested in doing individual therapy, please feel free to contact me "Jane" I-Chen Liu, MA.LMHC at email@example.com or call me at 425-728-0640. I look forward to speak with you.
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