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Pandemic causes millions of working moms to rethink their role in the workforce and at home

Virus Outbreak Child Care
Posted at 4:53 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 08:31:10-04

As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, many moms have been reflecting on what the last 12 months have been like for our families.

The pandemic for a good portion of working moms became the ‘mom-demic,' adding more responsibilities and worry that brought upon the decision to stay home and watch over the children.

It is estimated that anywhere between two to three million women across the United States have taken that leap of faith, putting careers and work at a standstill, all to be able to be home with kids.

“It wasn’t a 'pandemic starts, I’m staying home' type of situation,” said Joronda Montano, a recent stay-at-home mom. For six months during the early onset of the pandemic, Montano juggled it all -- working online and helping her three sons and one daughter while they learned at home.

"And it was just so emotionally draining, it became physically draining trying to balance everything that was happening with the pandemic, socially. For my own health, I just thought, ‘if I keep trying to make this work, my kids are not gonna be this way forever... these are crucial years,'” she added.

Jacqueline Rodriguez of Chandler says for her, the decision to stay home with her two boys came at the beginning of the pandemic. In April of 2020, her boss called and said her healthcare finance position was being eliminated.

"And I decided to stay home at that time with my kids and not pursue anything else,” said Rodriguez.

The last 12 months for her and her two boys, Sebastian and Jacob, have been moments of connection and bonding that she’s grateful to have had.

“I grew closer with my kids, we were able to have different experiences that I don’t think we would have had during a normal school year. We started journaling together, taking trips together -- had we been in a normal school, outdoor trips exploring more of Arizona together,“ said Rodriguez.

For Montano, who worked in mental health, leaving her career meant she was able to dedicate herself to her passion in track and field, coaching two of her boys.

“The tipping point was after I hadn’t slept for a few nights and I said, 'I can’t do this. This is not gonna be healthy, I can’t take care of anyone else if I am not taking care of myself,'” said Montano.

Dr. Suniya Luthar, emerita professor of psychology at Columbia Teacher’s College and expert in resilience, says Montano was right.

‘If you really have to boil it down, if children are going to do well, moms will have to be well, not overextended or stressed,” said Dr. Luthar.

Luthar has some advice for moms on Mother’s Day and, for that matter, every day.

“Make sure that you get what it is that you are trying to give your children, literally getting the same kind of love and comfort and support that you try to give to your children,” said Luthar.

As for Rodriguez, she says her boys are now back in school and that she’s looking to get back to work. Flexibility for her is the key.

“Following a career that would allow that, definitely a priority on my list.”

For Montano, it’s only been seven months since she left her career, and what matters right now is her family.

"This time passes by so quickly and it is my responsibility to make sure that they are happy and healthy and that I am happy and healthy while I am raising them,” added Montano.