Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Hung Thai

Reader 2

Gabriela Morales

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© 2022 Caroline E Albro


The COVID-19 pandemic brought monumental challenges to the lives of parents around the world. As schools shut down, children stayed at home, and employees worked from their living room couches or dining room tables, working parents struggled to balance paid labor, household labor, and childcare during this time. Working mothers faced particular challenges in reconciling household labor and employment due to the pressures of gender norms and the expectation for women to “do it all.” This paper explores the strategies that families utilized to deal with the household division of labor during the pandemic. Families employed a variety of strategies to manage childcare and employment, depending on their circumstances and resources. Twelve semi-structured, in-depth interviews with employed parents of young children produced three types of strategies, including independence, unpaid outsourcing, and paid outsourcing. Pandemic outcomes, including these strategies that parents employed to deal with the division of household labor, depended on family-specific financial capital, social capital, and other resources. While some families reported positive outcomes such as increased time spent with loved ones, others faced more detrimental impacts. Overall, the pandemic forced all families to alter their typical unpaid and paid labor routines. This paper explores sociological themes of gender, families, labor, and care to identify the ways in which families cope and respond to disruptions in their care and labor patterns. Ultimately, the findings indicate the importance of systemic government policies to support families and employees, shifting away from privatized forms of care and towards public aid to advance gender equality in the home.

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Sociology Commons