Pandemic poses a challenge for working mothers of Turkey

The coronavirus pandemic led to involuntary unemployment for many due to restrictions on businesses. Yet, those who have a job also face extra challenges, especially if they are working mothers.

Managing work and home under this new normal has taken a toll on the mental and physical well-being of mothers. In addition to trying to protect themselves from potential infection at work, they also face a dire problem: schools closed due to the pandemic and curfews restricting their children to the home.

Fifty-year-old Ayşe Kamış, a working mother, says her family spends most days at home. “Taking care of both work and home really wears out a person,” she said. “I feel exhausted because of all these responsibilities that I have, both at my workplace and home, but I feel now I have learned to deal with them by taking one day at a time.”

Zeliha Bülbül runs a beauty salon in the capital, Ankara. “We faced serious difficulties when salons were shut down as part of the lockdown measures. My income no longer meets my family’s expenses and I am concerned about the future,” she said. Bülbül expressed that lockdowns are not a permanent solution. Instead, she said, the process of developing a local vaccine against COVID-19 should be accelerated.

Another mother, Nuran Dastan said that keeping a smile on her face was the most difficult part of working under the pandemic. “I play with my son, clean the house, take care of my husband, and go to work while also trying to be cheerful all the time,” said the 24-year-old mother. “I am a waitress and I always have to have a happy face … After work, I try to spend some time with my 3-year-old son as he needs me at this age. I play with him until I fall asleep in some corner as I am usually so tired.”

Some days, she said, she goes to work early leaving behind a crying toddler, and other days she returns home late at night to find him sleeping. “The worst thing is that sometimes I yell at my son for not listening to me as the pandemic has left me depressed,” Dastan added.