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First lady Jill Biden shares advice for working moms: 'You're strong'

She says she sees the stress working parents are under firsthand in her role as a professor at a Virginia community college.
Image: Jill Biden, wife of Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden, speaks to supporters during the election in St Petersburg
Jill Biden speaks to supporters on Election Day. Octavio Jones / Reuters
/ Source: TODAY

First lady Jill Biden is opening up about her life as a working mom and sharing tips for others juggling work and family as the pandemic pushes working parents to the limit.

In a new interview with Parents magazine, Biden said that as a working parent herself, she relied on help from her husband, President Joe Biden, as their three children were growing up.

"Everything in life has a season, and we all take turns needing support and giving it," Biden said. "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. ... When I needed to write a paper, he would take the kids somewhere to give me a quiet house. He didn't expect me to set aside my career when he became Vice President (in 2008) or now."

Biden, who earned her doctorate in education in 2007, is a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, where she said she sees the impact of the pandemic on working moms firsthand.

"Many moms were having a hard time juggling it all before the pandemic," said Biden, who has announced that she intends to keep working throughout President Joe Biden's term, making her the only first lady to hold a paying job outside the White House during her tenure.

"Now (parents) can't send their kids to school while they work," she continued. "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 they're working."

She said that while on the campaign trail, she met a mom who quit her job to support her son with a disability as he learned remotely.

"His remote learning required more supervision than she could provide while working," Biden recalled. "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."

Biden said she hopes new policies will be enacted over the next few years to allow for provisions like "equal pay," "affordable, quality child care," "debt-free community college" and "paid family leave," all of which could help working families stay afloat even after the pandemic ends.

"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 a better balance for us all," she said. "I had help from Joe and our family when our kids were young. I was lucky. But you shouldn't have to be lucky to raise a family and pursue a career. My hope is that all parents will feel able to work and take care of their families."

Biden offered some words of kindness for working moms who might be feeling overwhelmed during the pandemic.

"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,'" Biden said. "It's OK. 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."

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