The pandemic has upended our lives in many ways. Schools have been shuttered for months, and many adults find themselves working from home.
However, for the professional woman, there have been other ramifications.
According to a New York Times article, some women have to juggle work and family obligations like never before. In some cases, they’ve even chosen to quit their jobs to take care of their families.
There are many reasons why this is happening (including societal stereotypes). Nevertheless, the result is that many are experiencing a pandemic pause.
Here’s how you can cope.
Understand Why the Pandemic Pause is Occurring
First, let’s understand why this pandemic pause is happening for so many women. A critical support system, previously allowing many women to earn an income, has disappeared with the pandemic (i.e., school, day-care, and most summer camps or programs).
Now, families face the challenge of looking after their children at home while also working, often remotely. What this means for couples is:
- Juggling schedules to switch off who is working, and who is taking care of the kids
- Allowing for more screen-time for older children
- Having to scale back on hours or quit a position to take care of younger children
Additionally, women may already have been taking care of an elderly relative or parent. Household tasks still need doing, too. It’s this unpaid work that is so crucial for every family.
Yet, most often, it falls on the shoulders of women, including the professional woman.
Short and Long-Term Impact for the Professional Woman
There are both short and long-term implications for the pandemic on a professional woman and her career, such as:
- Short Term: Stress, anxiety, and exhaustion as women try to “do it all.” Also, taking on less paid work by working fewer hours each day. Those who own their businesses might be unable to take on more clients or improve their businesses when the economy gets better.
- Long-Term: Fewer employment opportunities in the future. Women who drop out of the workforce find it challenging to rejoin later on.
According to Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan professor interviewed by the New York Times, “We could have an entire generation of women who are hurt” by the pandemic.
How to Cope During the Pandemic
The pandemic causes all of us to make tough choices. However, the professional woman can find ways to navigate this healthily, including:
- Working with your organization to establish a more flexible schedule, especially if you are working remotely.
- Setting expectations with your domestic partner (if applicable) as to who does what and when (chores, childcare tasks, etc.).
- If you decide to leave your position, do your best to sharpen your skills or expand your knowledge base (online classes, etc.).
- Consider if there is a way to establish yourself as a consultant where you get to set your schedule.
Of course, it’s also a good idea to be practicing all of the skills and techniques you have most likely already read about to build resiliency during this difficult time. Eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and practicing mindfulness are all excellent ideas.
Getting Professional Help
If you are struggling with coping as a professional woman during the pandemic, seek professional help A therapist who specializes in women and business counseling can help you address this issue.
Together, you can work on coping with how the pandemic affects your career and reclaim some control.
The pandemic has affected everyone. However, the professional woman, and women in general, are bearing a hefty load. You can’t change the pandemic— but you can take care of yourself to stay healthy and find a path forward with your career.
Reach out today to a therapist who understands this particular dynamic. Or visit my page about women and business counseling to learn more. I would be happy to share my expertise.