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Gendered caring responsibilities exposed by lockdown

(8 Posts)
mindutopia Thu 30-Apr-20 17:16:21

I do think some of it is self-inflicted. I am the one with primary caring responsibilities at the moment because I can work from home. Dh can't and is self-employed (requires specialist equipment at his commercial site to work, not something it would be safe to have children around while he was working), though dh takes off one day a week unpaid and also goes in about an hour later every other morning so that he can do at least half the homeschooling with eldest dc. He also has them all day Saturday while I work a full day. In our normal life, he is the main parent 3 days a week as I have a long commute and usually only get home just in time to say good night to dc.

But I have a colleague who has a fairly senior role (she's a professor) and is completely frazzled and coming apart at the seems chasing after her children and doing her very senior job. Her dh does a job that is equally easy to do from home, so he must be there wfh too. But she is the sort that has to 'do it all' and even under normal circumstances, is constantly crashing and burning out and up at 2am will ill children sending us emails about something.

Not surprisingly, my male colleagues who are generally really great and progressive and took shared parental leave and work part-time so that can be at home one day a week with their dc, are still seeming to carry their weight. I have one who is very firm about when he can be available for meetings as he and his partner split childcare 50/50 and he has his dd every morning until 12 noon and really protects his partner's work time.

CheddarGorgeous Thu 30-Apr-20 17:15:11

I agree with you OP. There have been some awful threads on MN recently about lazy, entitled men and frazzled women. And, sadly, some handmaidens who think the problem could be solved with the woman working harder / organising her time better hmm

Rainycloudyday Thu 30-Apr-20 17:11:57

Same as PP, this is not the situation for us but I fear we’re a minority. DH and I work half the day each and split looking after our toddlers 50:50. The balance works great for both of us. He earns more than me but is fully aware that it will stay that way unless I’m allowed to focus on my career to the same extent he is and has never thrown that in my face or acted like his work matters more as a result. This isn’t abnormal for us though, in normal circumstances we both work four days a week and have one day of solo childcare each. Seeing my DH step up to fatherhood the way he has makes me love him all the more and our children adore both of us. But yes, I see posts on here and it’s thoroughly depressing.

KayakingOnDown Thu 30-Apr-20 17:08:48

My DH and I are doing homeschooling 50:50. His job is full time and pays more, mine is part-time, but still, 50:50.

Mind you, I agree with you, I do think we're the norm.

KellyHall Thu 30-Apr-20 17:05:28

I've seen lots of frazzled looking men pushing pushchairs with a dog in one hand and a young child trailing behind!

Several of the women I know (including myself) are key workers so their dh's/dp's have taken over being SAHP's since schools and nurseries were made last resorts. We must all be very modern!

Waferbiscuit Thu 30-Apr-20 16:57:08

@sillysmiles - I agree with you, that is the cycle it goes in. But I'm a bit flabbergasted how many women are taking on all the home schooling etc while the men are oblivious, in their offices, in their own silos!

OP’s posts: |
sillysmiles Thu 30-Apr-20 16:18:09

I agree with you.
I think sometimes it becomes a financial thing - ie he didn't have to take mat leave etc and now has a higher paying role in the family and therefore his job "is" more important to the family finances and it all becomes a self fulfilling cycle.

Waferbiscuit Thu 30-Apr-20 16:10:30

I'm finding that lockdown is revealing just how gendered caring responsibilities are - and it is so depressing. It's just showing how much of the caring and homeschooling of children and caring of parents is managed by women.

For example - I run a large team of mixed team of women and men, mostly middle-aged and with children. The majority of women have put their hands up and said they are unable to work or have to do reduced hours because they are looking after children at home - babies and toddlers, school age and teen children. The men, not so much.

I had a Zoom conversation with an (understandably frazzled) female staff member who said working from home and looking after the children was no longer tenable - and I could literally see her husband in the background on his computer, working away at his (more important) job! Was he reducing his hours or saying he couldn't work because of childcare responsibilities? What childcare responsibilities?

It's 2020 and I feel like nothing has changed for women in 40 years.... women who are expected to work and do everything in the home and with children.... and the lockdown is just showing this to be true!

OP’s posts: |

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