THE RESPONSIBILITY OF CARE
WHEN GLOBAL CRISIS AND MOTHERHOOD COLLIDE
The past weeks have been full of news that is both troubling and in some cases overwhelming. The global pandemic announcement on Wednesday by the World Health Organization solidified the seriousness, followed by now daily government updates on closures, cancellations and escalating case numbers.
While Disney parks and cruise lines announced closures and sporting events seasons were canceled, impacting many families March break plans, perhaps the most disruptive announcement was the closure of schools on return from spring break and perhaps beyond.
WHO WILL CARE FOR THE CHILDREN?
Stats Canada reported in 2017 that the change in the division of household labour and work outside of the home between men and women shifted between 1976 and 2015. Stating that womens participation in the labour force increased from 48.7% to 77.5%. At the same time, we saw a rise in the participation of fathers in the household duties from 36% to 47%.
Read that again. As of 2015, fathers were still only participating in less than half of the household duties.
Let’s break that down even further. With the exception of “Outdoor Work and Repairs” mothers are devoting unmatched hours to care of the home and children. Not accounted for in this chart is what we often refer to as the “mental load” of motherhood – the constant “to-do” list, planning and emotional management of a family, that often falls on the shoulders of a mother.
Now jump back to 2020. We don’t have numbers for today (yet) but using what is currently available if we zoom in on child care, mothers are still responsible for 65% for child care.
WHY THIS MATTERS
We are all wondering what the outcome of this current global crisis will be.
It is early days for North America but we can see, that even now, businesses will close, people will/have become seriously ill and lose their lives, our front-line health workers are going to feel the impact and our institutions will be tested in their ability to withstand the coming influx.
What we aren’t speaking about yet, is who will bear the burden of care for children and aging family members? When schools are closed and we are encouraged to participate in social distancing, who is responsible for keeping things going in the home? In many cases, as the statistics show, it’ll be mom who steps up to manage and navigate a lot of these extra asks.
How do we manage the triple load of physical care responsibilities, working life responsibilities, and the mental load that goes into the balancing act to keep all things afloat?
When we are looking at the demographic segment of mothers, especially those with children under the age of 12, these are the additional layers of her experience that we need to all work to better understand. It isn’t as simple as selecting the products with the lowest price point, or greatest utility.
A mother’s lived experience is very complex and in times like these when her role shifts as the defacto caregiver and manager of *most* things we need to be sensitive and responsive to her needs in a more complete and complex way. For some brands, this will be an opportunity to be introduced to mom for the first time. Personally, I discovered a few “mail-order” kits over the weekend that will help entertain (hopefully educate?) my children for a few hours over the next two weeks. They may have gained a long-term customer, if the product experience delivers. For other brands, it’ll be a time to provide comfort, support, entertainment or reassurance for mom. It may not be a time to sell to her, but you can use this opportunity to build trust and connection with her. Lastly, for many, it may be a time to shift your push strategy to a pull strategy – ensuring you’re in the right place when mom needs you instead of trying to push your way through with tone-deaf media.
As they have in the past, moms will be stretched in many directions over the coming months. As a business, ask yourself how you can help her. That’s the best place to start.
Not sure where to begin? Get in touch.