With reports of women leaving the workforce in droves due to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, working mothers in the Hudson Valley are feeling the burnout as well.
Filomena Fanelli of Impact PR in Poughkeepsie has been running her firm since 2014, but has found some newfound challenges taking her business to the home front.
“To have clarinet lessons going on in one room, Google Meets and running out for snacks in another, and a spouse who works night shift, while I’m trying to be present for our team and clients is a bit too much going on in one place,” she said.
Westchester resident Juliana Fondacaro had a long career in public relations before moving over to the nonprofit sector as the Director of Donor Cultivation for ANDRUS, a children’s mental health organization in Yonkers.
She gave birth to her first child shortly before the COVID lockdown last March, and has been balancing being a new mom while conducting meetings on Zoom.
“When we have Zooms all day long, and I have, a one year old who needs me, she’s on these calls,” she said, “and I am running around the house carrying my computer, trying to look not disheveled.”
Still, time with a newborn has not been all awkward for Fondacaro. She has enjoyed being a new mom at a time when she doesn’t have to spend time away from her daughter.
“I got to experience her first year of life, and didn’t have to send her to daycare,” she said. “My husband and I saved money.”
Jennifer Gorr, owner of dog fence store Pet Stop Of The Hudson Valley in Warwasing, has enjoyed extra time with her children even amidst the chaos of running her family business.
“I truly love the family time,” she said. “Now we have more time to play games and watch movies together.”
Still, it has not been easy to look after teenagers who are forced to be homebound and away from their friends.
“Even teenagers need help,” she said. “They can easily get distracted and depressed and we do not want that to happen.”
Each of the women expressed compassion for the reports of women leaving the workforce as the pandemic starts to take a toll on both their professional and personal lives.
Fondacaro can empathize with what these women are reportedly going through.
“I can totally see that I will be the first to break and leave the workforce, if that ever was an option, because I am the one handling my daughter all day long,” she said. “I do think in these times, a lot more men are stepping up, but at the end of the day, women are really becoming more stressed out.”
“It is sad to know women are leaving the workforce,” said Gorr. “Women play a very important role in the world, and it is a nice balance to have more women in the workforce.”
As a small business owner herself, Fanelli agrees that this is concerning.
“My initial reaction when I hear the statistics about people leaving the workforce, but largely women, is not one of surprise, but rather disappointment,” she said.
“The more businesses elevate women and are willing to reimagine how work can be performed, the better.”