Being a woman sharing a flat with two men (we're all in our late 20s) during lockdown is hard. All the typical discrepancies in taking responsibility for household chores are magnified exponentially week after week. Somehow I always ended up doing more of the cleaning, cooking and food shopping than my cohabitants. It was also me who would regularly disinfect the door handles, light switches, surfaces, and ensured that there was enough hand gel and disinfectant wipes and masks for everyone. I didn't enjoy acting like their mum, but my alternative would have been to accept dirty dishes, a dirty toilet, mostly fast food, and a greater transmission risk. I would sometimes ask them to help, then they would help for a day or so and then things would get back into their old rhythm. I can't wait for the day that men realise the amount of unpaid labour they put on women by default and start taking some responsibility.
Covid-19 and women's equality
We want to know how Covid-19 is impacting on women's lives in Scotland.
This isn't just a public health issue for women - it comes with an increase in unpaid care, precarity for those in insecure housing, higher risks for those in low-paid and precarious work, damaging societal expectations of motherhood, new ways of carrying out online harassment, and many other ways in which women are being discriminated against.
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My life is always one big juggle between work and caring for my children, I am also studying towards a Masters but when lockdown came and the kids were home schooling on top of that I was literally working around the clock. My kids are young and my eldest is autistic so they both need a lot of care and attention and support for their learning and my work didn't stop. I work in a University so I had a full marking workload and tight deadlines.
We got into a routine, my eldest daughter has disordered sleep and so wakes around 5am, we would go for our walk early and then get back and start their home schooling, I usually had a couple of online classes or meetings so the kids would go and play for a while. Most of my colleagues were understanding when they were noisy or interrupted but some were not and made undermining comments. It was full on all day trying to get the kids through their work, making sure they were fed, washed and given sufficient attention.
When they got to bed I would hit the laptop and begin marking and my own research work often from 7.30/8pm- 11pm/midnight at this point I would force myself to bed as I knew I would only have a few hours before it all began again. I felt under enormous pressure to get my work done and guilty for leaving it incomplete at the end of the day.
I found it very difficult to fit in self care, even basics like showering (I know gross!). One of the biggest challenges as well was that I am normally very active and run 5k everyday to get to work and 10k at the weekend. Under lockdown restrictions I could not leave my children at all and my activity dropped to almost nil. I have gained weight and lost fitness.
It was very difficult for my autistic daughter who often took it out on the wee one who became very clingy to me and a bit withdrawn.
I was awaiting a contract extension which came in at the very last minute and this was so stressful as without a job we would be in dire straits. I also have had to take an interruption from my studies as it all became too much.
I absolutely cracked at one point and called social work telling them I could not cope, they said I was doing fine. I started crying uncontrollably on the phone, not something that I ever want my kids to see. They said they would conduct an assessment of our circumstances but this can't be done under covid restrictions. I have heard nothing in months.
Shopping was also a challenge, my daughter does not cope well with shops at the best of times and I really struggled to get delivery slots. We were not considered a priority despite me being a single parent and my daughters' disability.
Lockdown began on 16th March. Face to face teaching ended then too. Forced to try and deliver term 3 of a practical course on line to young adults who are obviously sitting thinking, this is not what I signed up for. I have two jobs, working part time and teaching part time. Both are now being done from home.
Then school shut and now juggling primary 7 son school work and two jobs at home. My son has a diagnosis of high functioning autism. I am blessed with a beautiful boy who is smart, funny and a talented artist. He is very sociable and is missing talking with everyone he meets. I worry about his mental health with lockdown and what will 1st year secondary school look like. I am a Masters student in my 3rd year an have a fast approaching deadline of 30th June for submission of work. I am a carer for my mother who is a cancer patient. She is shielding. I help with changing her bed, hovering cleaning floors, bathroom and kitchen weekly. Normally I would shop for her too, but so thankful to her brother that he has been shopping for her since the start of lockdown. I worry for my mother’s mental health during this lockdown. She has battled 5 different types of cancer over the last 20 years. The later three years battling 3 very serious cancers and amazing she has come through and is in remission for two of them. She was only just getting out to the theatre, gigs and restaurants when lockdown happened. Both my older brothers live in different city’s, and kind of leave it to me to help our mother normally, however I think this situation feels like it’s harder to manage everything. I got out of the abusive relationship with my sons father and I have been a single parent for 9 years now. The relationship is still volatile. My sons father has been no practical help through lockdown or before. My son stays with his father at the weekend, this allows me one day where I can breathe, sleep and write. I know that I am lucky to have this one day. I feel guilt and thing that I should do something to help others in the community on this day. What I miss most right now is siting in the theatre or going to a gig where I can just loose myself in the moment. Just for that moment.
I have 1 child under 10 who I look after myself every day as her dad is an essential worker. I help him with school work, try to keep her occupied, cook, clean, do laundry, ironing, dinners, bathtime, make all the meals, bake sometimes, play with him and try to engage in outdoor learning, look after my older parent by doing her shopping and collecting meds, organising her bills, doing my own online shopping and bills, phone relatives to stay in touch as much as possible and take the little one out daily for an hour or so of fresh air and exercise.
I also work ft from home. But I don't manage to do it much during the day, so once the child is in bed and I've tidied up, I start at my pc around 8.30pm... if I'm lucky I get time for a bath on occasion, bedtime often after midnight, then back up at 5am or 6 to have a quick shower and get my husband organised for the day.. as he actually goes to work, hes tired and stressed which stresses me out too, so I end up doing pretty much everything.
I'm missing my friends and family and having an only child is tough as she misses her friends and family too.
I feel guilty for wanting five minutes alone, but nobody seems to get that I need space. I keep seeing people online asking for reading or box set suggestions to pass the time.. if only!!!
My partner works in secondary services in the NHS in psychology and so doesn’t have much of a role during lockdown however the NHS also insists that as I am not a key worker I am responsible for the full time care (and schooling) of our children. So many plates to spin that I’m exhausted and a little broken.
Quite a minor thing, but it astonished me - my partner went to the shops, with a shopping list of essentials, (written by me). He came back with just 4 items (mainly snacks) saying that he had decided to go to a different shop. When I said 'so that's your shopping for the week then', he had no idea that the guidelines said you should only go shopping once a week.
I don't understand how he could watch the news every night and not picked up on that!
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