By Heidi Borst

In April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicole Peyer, 44, of Oakland, CA, was furloughed from her job as a sales consultant for a national wine and spirits distribution company.

After four months, Peyer was rehired, but her needs had changed: With two elementary-school aged kids remote learning at home, she requested a more flexible schedule that would allow her to trade off on childcare with her husband — but her employers wouldn’t budge. “I think they wanted to hear that I cared about my job more than my kids,” she said. “My work, being out in the field and visiting clients, was not conducive to the fact that I now had children to watch at home because daycare and school were closed.”

Two months later, unable to keep up with full-time work on top of childcare, Peyer resigned. Now, she’s struggling to find a sense of purpose beyond cooking and cleaning. “All of a sudden, I’m not waking up and checking my phone first thing. My busy-ness now is commuting the kids around,” she says. “I’m still in touch with my old teammates, and I feel guilty that they’re going to work and I’m not.”

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