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How has your housework burden changed from pre-COVID19 and during COVID-19?

WE Int., committed to lifting up women and shedding light on their work, introduces its members as part of the series #SheInspires. Although in the current difficult situation we are not able to meet face-to-face, we hope this kind of message can help each other stay positive. In this article, we interviewed our members Ayumi and Stephanie about how their housework burden changed from pre-COVID19 and during COVID-19.


Ayumi is a candidate for a Master's degree in Public Management at the University of Tokyo. She had 8-year-professional experience in International Cooperation (ODA), especially in African countries. Last year, she just gave birth to a cute Japanese-African baby boy.



1. How are you spending time at home during COVID-19?


I spend most of the time to take my classes online at home with my 9-month-old baby. After the classes, I walk outside with my baby, stopping by at some grocery stores. Especially on the weekend, I enjoy home theater time, LINE or Skype call with friends and families around the world, and cooking some African dishes.

2. What were your housework patterns like from before COVID-19? How have they changed?


Before, I should finish all the housework before going to university, so the morning time was like an exhausting hard battle of the day for me. Also, it was tough to spend almost 2 hours commuting to and from university with my baby.

However, since the classes are currently held online, the stressful fight in the morning against the time is over. Benefiting from the saved 2 hours, I can accomplish all housework before starting my online classes. It is true that studying at home with my son is a big challenge, but my husband working at home for the moment takes a great role of caring kid when I cannot do so. Then, I well keep balance being student and mom despite the difficult circumstances.



3. How is the situation in your local neighborhood or among your friends?


Many of my friends have difficulties in managing housework and caring children at home by himself/herself. You know, when we see someone at home, we easily expect him/her to help us by doing small housework or caring kids. However, in some cases, the partner is just physically at home for working, not for helping his/her spouse. This situation strongly makes us feel stressed. Even if the one or both of a couple feel stressed, there is no outside place for refreshing. As far as I know, it is mostly women who face this kind of problem.



4. Do you have any tips to share for staying positive during COVID-19?


- I believe that there is no need to be perfect, as mom, wife, or student!

- I admit myself as I am. Even if I was not able to finish what to do or I did something undesirable, I try not to blame myself. Instead, I take even 5 minutes coffee break for making me feel relaxed and relieved.

- I take courage to ask anyone for help when it is necessary. Patient is “not” a virtue, I definitely can “not” do everything! Not only my tasks but also my feelings I share with my family and dear friends. It makes me feel less burdened and released from anything.




Stephanie is currently studying in the Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Tokyo. She is a mother with two lovely daughters.


1. How are you spending time at home during COVID-19?


My time is split between my final semester of GRASPP courses, working, and hanging out with my family -- husband and two girls.



2. What were your housework patterns like from before COVID-19? How have they changed?


The main change after the pandemic hit were the school closures. The kids are young so their education is not so impacted but they do need constant hands-on supervision in their assignments. My husband and I have been able to work from home, though, so we are around to help -- we basically just take turns doing what we can. We don't have specifically defined tasks but just kind of share and get it done together (esp cooking/clean-up and child care). It makes for a busier day, but we're doing what we can and finding many enjoyable small moments.

3. How is the situation in your local neighborhood or among your friends?


I think we've all felt the strain of suddenly adding homeschool to the day. It seems like division of labor varies by the couple, so it's difficult to say.


4. Do you have any tips to share for staying positive during COVID-19?


I think what helps me most is getting outside (in a safe, socially distant way!), taking a break from COVID-19 related news, and remembering that this is all temporary. We're all in this together, and we'll get out of it together!


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