Vicky Price shares her honest feelings going into lockdown 3.
Well, well, call me stupid, but I really did not expect to be here again. At home with my four children. Faced with the long and painful task of working and homeschooling until March.
It was bad enough last time, but we were heady with the hope of spring. The queues at the supermarkets were a chance to get a tan!
As a single mother of four, (ages 6, 9, 12, 16) and one who is growing her own business, I found the first lockdown pretty darn stressful. In fact, I experienced burn out several times this year. After all, there is only so much one woman can take.
Post Christmas and in the middle of winter and Brexit, I don’t think it could be a more depressing time for parents and children alike.
My children don’t get any financial contribution from their father, aside from the odd £20 thrown their way once in a while, it’s ok though, his work stopped because of Covid so he announced that he was taking the year off. I will just leave that there.
Thankfully, I have some support from Universal credit, for which I am eternally grateful and I am working hard to double my income so I can get off it as soon as possible.
I have big plans, people like working with me, I took on training to up my skills and offerings and I see my peers excelling… I am ambitious and I want to get there as well.
In the entrepreneurial world we hear of business owners putting in 90 hour weeks to achieve those goals. For me, it’s more like 120 hours a week.
But unlike a man, most of those hours are unpaid. And not only are they unpaid, the work, childcare and domestic, is undervalued by society.
On a ‘normal’ day I get up and I have my ‘morning routine’, this is the first two hours of my day which are spent getting all children up and ready, bags packed and in the car – there is usually some shouting, some searching for lost items, my teenager is normally late, they fail to eat breakfast.
Then I am then at my desk for 6 hours before I have to do the pick-ups.
I try and work once they are all home but in reality I am pulled away to clean and cook so then I work once they are in bed and I work until my eyes sting and I feel dizzy.
It’s disheartening to look at Toggl and see that I have only clocked three to four paid hours in a day because it feels as though I never stopped and am often exhausted.
And now, I am faced with another lockdown of long weeks with the impossible task of handling a full-time job and home educating four children. I screamed out loud when I found out, a guttural scream from the depths of my soul. And then sobbed… because there is no answer to this. No matter how much anyone tries to talk to me about self care and going easy on myself, it is what it is.
During the first lockdown, at the end of my tether, I got a couple of school days for my boys. OMG the amount of work I achieved in those days!
Today I applied again, and I got nothing. The school was very clear in their communication: places were for key workers only.
But I have discovered school places have also gone to families where the mother is a key worker, but the father is not.
I have heard tales from mother’s, of fathers that lock their office doors when they are working, leaving the mothers managing their own jobs, the home schooling and the domestic duties.
There was plenty of research done during and after the last lockdown which backed this up and proved that women were picking up much more of the domestic and childcare than the men.
One study found that women only managed one hour of uninterrupted paid work for every three done by men. The study, by the institute of Fiscal Studies and UCL interviewed 3,500 families of two opposite-gender parents and found that mothers were doing more childcare and more housework than fathers.
The mothers were looking after children for an average of 2.3 hours more than fathers and doing housework for 1.7 more hours than fathers. Yet in families where the father had stopped work while his partner continued, on average they did the same amount of household work.
Another study by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) the Women’s Higher Education Network (WHEN) surveyed over 1000 working parents and found that the unpaid labour at home significantly affected people’s ability to do their job, particularly women.
It’s not surprising then that a further study published by Ipsos MORI and The Fawcett Society, found that six out of ten women (61%) are finding it harder to stay positive day-to-day, compared with 47% of men.
This comes as no surprise and very soon in the first lockdown I suspected it to be the case.
It’s common that when children come along it’s the woman who takes on most of the domestic load, even if she also works a full time job. I don’t think any of you need any research results to prove this – just ask any mother.
I am exhausted by how this makes me feel. I don’t want it to be true.
I have first hand experience of this. I have been a working mum and a stay at home mum with a partner and each time I took on the bulk of the childcare and domestic duties.
Since having children, my day starts as soon as I get up and ends around midnight when I fall into bed exhausted.
It’s no different now, but the upside is I have no one to get cross with.
I feel equally for the mothers in relationships as I do for the single mums at the moment, again faced with the thankless task of enrolling their offspring into remote learning, the endless feeding and cycle of cleaning.
It’s no wonder there were so many separations over the last lockdown.
There is no answer to my situation… it is what it is and at the moment, no one can come in and help me out. I won’t be forcing my children to do all their school work. I don’t have the time and energy – I need to focus on keeping a roof over our heads!
But for those women in relationships who pick up the extra work because it’s not worth the argument. Their men need to step up! It’s 2021 for f**ks sake!
And I know a few of you men who may read this are amazing, wonderful fathers and partners. But… even then… I bet you don’t do quite as much as your wife. And if you do – then have a word with your male friends who don’t.
It’s bloody time this changed. Otherwise we face an epidemic of burnt out, stressed out mothers, and this affects our children so much more than we realise.