In the age of COVID-19, ‘working from home’ and ‘home schooling’ have become part of the Australian lexicon in a way that has never happened before. Working parents often have to juggle both of these activities during lockdowns, undertaking the paid work they would normally do outside the home (if they have jobs that make that possible) as well as supervising the lessons provided remotely by their children’s teachers. The domestic duties necessary to keep a home running need to be maintained and, as ever, research shows it is women who disproportionately bear the greater burden.
Unlike today, when I grew up in Melbourne in the 1950s it was uncommon for mothers to go out to work. Their job was to cook and clean and care for husband and children. I was the only one of my friends whose mother had a day job, as a teacher. I was literally home schooled for a while as Mum taught me to read when I was four, which meant I was able to start school early after she was called upon to return to teaching in the wake of the postwar baby boom.
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