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From “nobody's clapping for us” to “bad moms”: COVID-19 and the circle of childcare in Canada

Simon Fraser University

Julia Smith

Topic areas

COVID-19Provider perspectivesGender

Study Design:

This is a qualitative study of "the lived experiences of parents and childcare educators, documented through 16 semi-structured interviews during the initial lockdown (March–June 2020) in British Columbia, Canada".

Study Sample:

"Research was conducted in the two health authorities (Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health) with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in BC during the initial COVID-19 lockdown (March to June 2020). Interviewees were purposefully and voluntarily sampled... In total 16 semi-structured interviews were conducted with: eight childcare educators (who were all women, working in licensed childcare facilities of varying sizes and type), and eight mothers who accessed paid childcare either during the day for infants and toddlers or after-school for older children".

Research Questions:

This study "analyzes how COVID-19 has affected paid childcare, unpaid childcare and other paid work, and the relationship between these sectors".


All of the educators interviewed spoke of high levels of stress and anxiety, partly due to fear of COVID-19 infection but also the challenge of keeping children safe and cared for. All mothers interviewed spoke of feeling like a “bad mom” or similar feelings of “mom guilt” while struggling to manage unpaid care tasks in the context of the pandemic. Both faced barriers accessing mental health and peer support due to lack of time and privacy.

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Related publications

  • Smith, J. (2022). From “nobody's clapping for us” to “bad moms”: COVID‐19 and the circle of childcare in Canada. Gender, Work & Organization, 29(1), 353-367.

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