Mothering in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Christine Zolondek MacEwan University


Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America in 2020 life has yet to return to “normal.” New realities include remote learning, physical distancing, lockdown measures, and mandatory masking. The pandemic has increased social isolation, stress and anxiety, employment loss, and financial instability. Even more, the domestic workload that mothers are usually responsible for in addition to their paid work, what Arlie Hochschild (2012) refers to as 'the second shift,' has been compounded and expanded to create a 'third' and 'fourth' shift with the addition of homeschooling and the increased carework and 'worrywork' that burdens mothers during a crisis (O'Reilly & Green, 2021, p. 21). Mothers are the unrecognized 'front-line workers' of the pandemic – caring for sick family members, trying to balance working from home with childcare and homeschooling that has pushed mothers to their breaking points. This has left many mothers overworked, overstressed, overwhelmed, which takes a substantial toll on their well- being. The purpose of this study is to examine the pressures, changes, and challenges that mothers face surrounding paid work, care, and family during the pandemic – and the strategies they use to navigate this difficult situation. This study involves 11 qualitative interviews with Canadian mothers. The aim of this study is to discover how women define and understand their experiences of pandemic parenting and how their experiences and choices were shaped by their constraining circumstances and contexts. It explores the norms surrounding ‘who cares?’ and how disparities in carework underpin many of the gender inequalities women experience that blur the boundaries between their private and public lives.

Department: Sociology 

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joanne Minaker