Is anyone having difficulty with housework during COVID-19? More dishes, of course. But why is the house messier? Shouldn’t there be less laundry when wardrobes are reduced to sweatpants and leggings?
When the pandemic was declared in March 2020, we all suddenly started spending a lot more time at home. But not all of us have become perfect housewives.
Families, entrepreneurs, industry experts and academics have told UKTN why COVID-19 appears to have resulted in more work on the home front.
Mante Molepo is an anti-racism lawyer and consultant, as well as a wife and mother of two school-aged children.
For nine months during the pandemic, her children took online classes and all four of her family members stayed at home all day. At the same time, Molepo began to launch its new consulting business.
“Instead of having this time to fold the laundry, I have to finish this customer report… and then it stacks up,” she says.
“We’re not usually a messy family, but our house was definitely a mess,” said Malepo, who used the kitchen as an office and used a background blur filter on his Zoom app to obscure the dismay.
“I hope to do a lot this weekend and catch up with the … hot mess in my house.”
Stuck at the scene of filth
This feeling of never having enough time to manage household chores is familiar to Anita Grace, postdoctoral researcher at Carleton University.
She is studying work-life balance and how perceptions about household chores changed during COVID-19. And as a working mother of two, she is a living example of her research into how people with jobs and children cope with the pandemic.
Many of its study participants complain about housework. “One person said, ‘How are there so many dishes? I never stop doing the dishes. “”
According to Grace, people would say they wanted “someone to clean my house, someone to do my dishes, someone to tidy my kitchen.” That the laundry is overwhelming ”.
“There was just that feeling of endless drudgery,” she says, and no way to get away from the grime scene. “You can’t escape. You can’t leave. It’s right there in your face.
“Sometimes seeing that laundry basket is just… uh.”
Part of Grace’s job is figuring out who does what at home, and she has been following 70 study participants since the start of the pandemic.
“Men feel they do 50 percent of the housework, while women perceive they do 70 percent. So I’ll let you interpret that.”
Businesses are eliminating dirty work
For some entrepreneurs, all this COVID-inspired disarray is good for business.
Cameron Banville launched The Bong Cleaners, his mobile bong cleaning business in July 2020.
“People’s bangs got dirty over the winter,” he said. “It’s definitely time for spring cleaning.”
The 22-year-old Algonquin College business management and entrepreneurship student started the business after learning how to clean his own bongs.
“I’ve always found it very therapeutic to clean them. It got to the point where my friends got it and asked me to clean their rooms for them.”
It charges $ 15 per bong and is aimed at people who love to smoke, but find cleaning their equipment a “dirty and nasty” job. When he turns their blackened bongs into sparkling glass, “people say,” Wow, that’s crazy. “”
Banville has always loved cleaning, from decorating cars to cleaning the fryer when he was a line cook. “It’s just the satisfaction of seeing the before and after.”
Stephanie Applejohn, owner of professional cleaning service Merry Maids Ottawa, says business initially slowed down during the pandemic, but has since rebounded.
“People were working from home,” she said. “They had their kids at home for virtual learning, and they needed a little more TLC than usual.”
Some of his clients worked more hours at home than they did when they were in the office.
“They don’t want to look at those four walls anymore,” Applejohn said. “They want to be outside for some fresh air. That’s why they’re calling us.”
Prior to COVID-19, Applejohn said it had around 150 customers. The company is currently cleaning around 175 homes.
Robin Milhausen, professor of family relations at the University of Guelph, studies how 1,000 men and women cope with work-life balance during COVID-19, including the stress of household chores, while juggling jobs and children.
“The challenges of the pandemic are not evenly distributed among all families,” said Milhausen, who also recognizes his own privilege as a member of a two-parent dual-income family.
“There are very big challenges for families where they have lost their jobs… or who have suffered from illness.”
Different stress points
Like Grace, Milhausen has studied how people perceive the division of household chores and childcare since the start of the pandemic. She says women are doing even more at home, pandemic or not, but there are some illuminating nuggets in the details.
“Men were more likely than women to say they were doing more,” Milhausen said. “But women were more likely to say they did a lot more housework and a lot more child care.”
Another revelation was that men who reported taking much more care of children and housework were more likely to report high levels of stress.
“It’s a big change for them, and it made them feel at the highest level of stress,” Milhausen said.
Interestingly, women did not report as much stress with extra child care during the pandemic. But she said they had sweated the extra housework.
“It’s the housework that pushes women into the danger zone of stress.”