The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic can be felt across almost every aspect of our daily lives. As we head deeper into lockdown number three, we take a look at whether the restrictions we are now living under, disproportionately affect mothers.
Mums are more likely than dads to have left paid work
An online survey in May this year, designed by researchers from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the UCL Institute of Education and completed by 3,500 families, revealed that mothers were more likely than fathers to have left paid work since February 2020.
What’s more, among the parents who were still in paid work at the time of the survey, the mothers saw a bigger proportional reduction in hours of work than the fathers.
The survey showed that mothers were looking after children for an average of 10.3 hours per day, 2.3 hours more than fathers, and were doing 1.7 more hours’ worth of housework than fathers.
The study concluded that mothers in two-parent households were, on average, doing a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers (this sat at 60% pre-lockdown).
Alison Andrew, a Senior Research Economist at IFS, said that there was a risk that the lockdown could lead to a further increase in the gender wage gap.
Will lockdown three be any different?
Juggling working from home, school closures and job losses means that for many families, lockdown three will be just as difficult, if not more so, than the first lockdown in March last year. However, armed with the knowledge and experience gained from the first and second lockdowns, we can make changes for lockdown three.
As always, communication is key. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan that every family can follow, as every family is different. Take time to sit down with your partner and your children and discuss how you are going to spend your days and the routine you are going to follow.
Talk about how jobs are going to be divided (the older the children, the more responsibility they can take) and set expectations for when school work will be the priority and when you can relax or pursue a hobby. Factor in time for exercise and fresh air, even if it is just a walk around your local area (within the rules).
Talking about and planning a timetable now, can help to ensure household chores and childcare are divided fairly. Depending on your family situation, fairly does not always mean evenly.
Neil Graham, a Partner at Grayfords comments as follows: “working from home during lockdown has proved far from easy over the last few months. We have all seen the television interviews innocently interrupted by children or pets. Added to that is the responsibility of home schooling children on a daily basis, on top of all the usual daily domestic chores and routines. For many, there has also been the added worry of financial uncertainty or trying to make ends meet on reduced financial resources. Alongside all of this there has been little or no opportunity for leisure or face to face social interaction with people outside our own households. It is no wonder that many of us feel overwhelmed simply by the daily burden of life in lockdown. Money and how we share the daily tasks and chores together are two of the things that particularly impact on relationships, even at the best of times. It is important, therefore, to give ourselves the space and time to plan and share that burden together and to be flexible and open minded about how we each discharge our share of the burden. Talking to each other is crucial, whether that be with the assistance of a couple therapist, relationship counsellor or simply face to face, to understanding each other’s burden and to finding a fair shared solution together. There are many online resources available, details of some of which appear below.”