"You're strong. You're resilient. And you're doing your best to carry your family through one of the most difficult times in memory."
In an interview with Parents, Dr. Biden reflected on her experience as a young working mom and offered advice to parents who are struggling amid the pandemic.
"I had help from Joe and our family when our kids were young," she told Parents. "I was lucky. But you shouldn't have to be lucky to raise a family and pursue a career."
Dr. Biden said that like so many moms around the world, she had to multitask and sneak work into every moment of the day to be able to balance it all.
"When my school day was over, I'd grade papers on the bleachers while the kids played whatever sport was in season," she said. "Then I'd pile their equipment into our station wagon and rush home for dinner. Every meal I cooked had to take 30 minutes or less—otherwise, the boys would eat an entire bag of chips."
After the chaos of dinner and bedtime, she'd carve out time for her own homework for graduate school or her Ph.D. program.
"Everything in life has a season, and we all take turns needing support and giving it. When we got married, Joe knew that I'd always wanted two things—a marriage that was strong, loving, and full of laughter, and a career. He didn't love me in spite of my ambitions; he loved me because of them."
"When I needed to write a paper, he would take the kids somewhere to give me a quiet house," she continued. "He didn't expect me to set aside my career when he became vice president, or now. In 2009, my advisors said it was crazy to do both, but Joe said, "Of course you should.'"
Dr. Biden is the first presidential spouse to keep her day job. While her husband serves his term, she will continue to work as an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College.
She says for her, teaching isn't just a job. It's a calling.
Still, Dr. Biden understands that she was lucky to have support systems in place that allowed her the privilege of raising children and balancing her career.
She knows that for so many parents across the country, that's not the case.
"Many moms were having a hard time juggling it all before the pandemic," she said. "Now they can't send their kids to school while they work. There are no playdates to help burn off energy. They've lost the network of family and friends who can help out. And they're expected to supervise remote learning while working or job hunting."
"During the campaign, I met a mom with a son with a disability," she continued. "His remote learning required more supervision than she could provide while working. She made less than her husband, so of course, she was the one to quit. I think stories like that are playing out in a lot of homes."
What do working parents need in order to thrive? Help, says Dr. Biden.
"Equal pay. Affordable, quality child care. Debt-free community college. Paid family leave," she said.
"Both moms and dads are facing the chaotic reality of working from home while toddlers climb all over them. Essential workers have to go to work every day without anywhere to send their kids. We're seeing how badly we need better balance for us all."
Dr. Biden says when it comes to battling burnout, it's important to remember: You're a priority, too.
"You have to find moments for yourself. You have to," she insisted. "We moms spend so much time questioning ourselves—at least I did. We need time to just quiet those voices in our head."
And don't forget to be kind to yourself, especially when you feel like you're in over your head.
"Maybe you've made mac 'n' cheese for dinner one too many times. Maybe your temper is shorter than usual. Maybe you're too tired to be the 'fun mom,'" she said.
"It's okay. You're not failing. You're strong. You're resilient. And you're doing your best to carry your family through one of the most difficult times in memory. We're going to do everything we can to get through this, together."
You can read Dr. Biden's full interview with Parents here.
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