Mothers: teleworking during quarantine

The University of València has carried out an investigation to know how the lockdown affects teleworking and reconciliation in family units. It confirms that women who telework and have children bear most of the stress of the lockdown due to the coronavirus.  

Due to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19, all schools in Spain closed as a measure to stop the spread of the disease among the students, so they have been forced to follow their classes from home. However, this problem would increase when companies were forced to facilitate teleworking, so the parents stay at home. Combining teleworking and childcare can become an impossible mission.  

The survey has been carried out by Cristina Benlloch and Empar Aguado, teachers of the Sociology Department in the University of Valencia, and Anna Aguado, a political-legal expert.  Their aim is to show the alterations in the daily life that the lockdown is causing, and particularly, they analyse the time administration at home. “It’s necessary an analysis about the difficulties women must face to combine the familiar responsibilities with their working hours trough teleworking. Many are working at the same time as they are taking care of the children, and some of them feel like they are working all day long.  Having flexibility in schedules often becomes a continuous demonstration and an exercise of responsibility with their superiors” detailed Empar Aguado Bloise.  

Through telephone interviews and a voluntary online survey, it is concluded, among other points, that school monitoring of children of educational age is mainly carried out by the mothers. This has become an “added element of anxiety and stress” to the fact of teleworking. 

According to Cristina Benlloch “it is common for mothers to telework during the early hours, either by delaying the time to go to bed or by waking up before the rest of the family”. She highlights too that, in addition to teleworking and taking care of the children, women “sometimes must make it easier for their partners to work or telework”, in case the couple’s working hours are inflexible. 

It’s explained in the interim results that, in some couples, men are more willing to do tasks that they didn’t use to do before, such as setting up washing machines, cooling, shopping or sharing playtime with children. Some conclusions of the survey have been published in an article on the popular science platform “The Conversation”, part of the project “Family reconciliation in times of lockdown by COVID-19”.  

“The aim is to understand the effects this crisis may have on the reconciliation of women who find themselves teleworking with children in their care. To observe how the family units are tackling ‘re-conciliation’ at a time when the home condenses all the social spaces of production and reproduction”, stresses Anna Aguado. 

(Image: Mom is on a meeting. Don’t entry, from 11:30 to 12:15. The answer to your questions is one of these: No, in the washing machine, fruit, I don’t know what we’re going to have for lunch, don’t fight, in your room, I will help you to search it later) 

Families claim that it is “impossible” to telework and help their children to follow the classes at a distance after the closure of schools and institutes due to the coronavirus 

“I feel I can’t do everything,” says Pilar, mother of a primary school girl and two twins in infancy. “This situation is exceptional for everyone, but the worst part is for the parents. We are forced to carry out our work day and with such a volume of homework, also the teachers’ day: homework and explaining subjects to three children, each with their needs, their doubts and their lack of autonomy because we are doing homework from lessons not given. In conclusion: the children will save the year; the teachers will receive the children with advanced subjects. What about us, the parents?” he asks herself.  

Sources: LevanteLa VanguardiaNiusEuropaPress

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