For months, working mothers around the world have suffered the brunt of COVID-19’s impacts. The staggering effects of the pandemic on certain minorities, most notably women, has even led one Economics professor at Harvard University, Claudia Goldin, to write that the inequalities that have existed in society for decades are now “on steroids.”
Ever since COVID-19 broke out, forcing children and entire families into their homes, work dynamics have shifted drastically for working parents. They have had to figure out how to manage household chores that only piled up, especially because help from cleaning services and babysitters had been curtailed, focus on work and stay productive, and on top of that, actively parent their kids around the clock.
But this is not affecting everyone’s work equally. A study published in Gender, Work and Organization found that mothers’ working hours fell four to five times as much as fathers’ working hours between March and April. With schools and daycares closed, the work hours gender gap has worsened by 20% to 50%, according to The New York Times.
Not to mention the newest count from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which shows that married women lost almost one million jobs in September alone – tying it back to the back-to-school season. Meanwhile, married men lost nearly 800,000 jobs. The back-to-school season has always posed an issue for working mothers, whose already packed schedules become compounded with homework, parent-teacher conferences, extracurricular activities, and more.
With many schools around the world still closed, distance learning is putting even further pressure on parents, as mothers have to help their children finish homework, attend classes, stay productive, while still managing their household needs and finishing up their work requirements.
Until companies shift their 9-5 framework, which tends to reward workers based on hours logged rather than results, working mothers are placed in a vulnerable position where they are forced to sacrifice their careers in favor of their children. But in 2020, relinquishing a full-time job doesn’t have to mean putting an end to one’s career.
Freelancing as a lifeline for working moms
The major issue plaguing working moms during school season is an overlap in their own working schedules and the time of day when school is in session. Distance learning requires that mothers check in to make sure their children are logged on to their online classes, paying attention, and are capable of navigating the web as per their schools’ requirements. While in past years, children were under the care of their schoolteachers during the entire day, they are now in the care of their parents while they work at home.
On the other side, moms who choose to become freelancers are under no obligation to log any specific number of hours during any certain time of day. Instead, they can follow a “windowed work” system that allows them to divide their day into separate windows of time for different activities. For example, they can devote their early mornings to setting their children up for school, then take a few hours for work, and then prepare lunch and dinner. Finally, they can spend some hours in the evening on work before taking care of their household chores. This system offers them a flexible way of working where they can determine when their free periods which they will be able to devote to work are, as opposed to the hours of the day when they need to focus on their children or on household chores.
Multiple income streams & more opportunities to earn
Not only are working moms under pressure to take care of their children, they are also often struggling to make ends meet. COVID-19 has slashed many women’s salaries, some as much as half. Working mothers are constantly forced to negotiate their terms with their bosses, asking for more flexible schedules, more generous bonuses, and more understanding in general. By freelancing, they cease to be subjected to anyone’s control but themselves. Freelancing gives them back their power to control their income, determine their own rates, the pace of their work, their schedules, and even the clients that they work with.
This freedom also gives them the ability to maximize their earning opportunities, rather than being restricted by a monthly salary that only decreases the more sick days they take and the less hours they log. Not to mention that the long-standing myth that there’s not enough money in freelancing has been made null in recent years, especially with the advancement of platforms and technologies like freelance marketplace Ureed.com, that provides freelancers access to countless opportunities across the globe (Read: one freelancer on Ureed.com managed to earn $1000 every two weeks just by freelancing on the platform!).
More diverse experiences & a chance to develop their skill sets
Too many stories have been told – and even entire movies have been made – about working mothers who sacrificed their careers to raise their children, only to find that years later, when they’re finally free to return to work, they’ve been shunned by every company they apply to. This doesn’t have to be women’s realities anymore, because with freelancing, you can take as many breaks as you need and if you’re qualified enough, no one will ask you why you have an employment gap or what you were doing the past X years.
Freelancing allows you to keep a foot in the workplace without sacrificing your daily priorities. It also allows you to advance your career, sharpen your skills and build a portfolio in case you plan to return to a full-time position later in your life. And even if you don’t, you can continue on an unparalleled lifelong learning journey where you get to work with clients from anywhere around the world, work on diverse projects that help you become a more well-rounded person, and have enough free time to learn skills beyond your direct expertise.
Working mothers have been pigeonholed into their “mother” status for centuries now, and their careers have suffered because of it. In the uncertain times of COVID-19, where businesses around the world are laying off workers and cutting their salaries, working moms are among the most vulnerable demographics. Freelancing offers them a ticket out of a suffocating system, and into a more flexible, freeing and opportunity-laden work life.
Hey mothers! Are you thinking of kickstarting a flexible – and rewarding – freelance career? Sign up now on Ureed.com, a freelance marketplace with countless project opportunities that can match your busy schedule.