The Parenting Struggle: Why Moms May Be Falling Behind in the Workforce

Moms are the best.

They are great at fixing hair and embarrassing their kids. They often manage the household, doing the laundry and washing dishes, vacuuming the floors and cleaning the bathrooms. They volunteer at school- or they are school for their kiddos if they homeschool. They manage the household finances and keep kids clothed and fed and happy. Moms rock.

But Moms, and any other maternal figure in a child’s day-to-day life, across the country are struggling in the workforce. Moms have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This is the 21st Century. Moms, and women everywhere, should not be struggling to keep up with men in any capacity, including at the office.

But all those reasons why Mom is awesome—because she manages the household, helps the kids with school, tends to the kids in so many ways—may be preventing her from getting ahead at work.

Moms in the Workforce: The Struggle

According to this press release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women, and moms in particular, are struggling to do it all: maintain the home front and be successful in the workplace. According to the report, “This decline in labor force participation among parents, especially mothers, likely reflects not only pandemic-related job losses, but also the shift of many schools to distance learning and the temporary closure of many childcare facilities during the pandemic.”

When schools went online-only in 2020, it was hard for Moms to help with math homework and complete work tasks. Something had to give. “In 2020, the unemployment rate for mothers increased by 4.0 percentage points from the prior year,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unfortunately some Moms had to choose—they could be home with their children when schools and daycares shut down, or they could continue to focus on work. It was hard to do both.

Moms in the Workforce: U.S. Workforce Policies

As it turns out, moms have been struggling with work for years, the pandemic simply brought the issue to the forefront of everyone’s mind. When the pandemic hit and everything started to close, moms were the ones who had to figure out how to juggle team meetings and Zoom math classes for their kids. But the challenges moms faced in the office started long before March of 2020.

The U.S., in general, lags behind in parental policy. According to this article from The Guardian, the U.S. “was the only country in an analysis that offered absolutely no national paid leave.” Many Moms struggle with the work/life balance from the day they become mothers. Moms find it hard to return to the workplace once they have children because of the lack of support from employers and the country in general.

Moms in the Workforce: Supportive Employment Policies

Because moms are so disproportionately affected by finding the balance between work and home life, many companies are starting to take matters into their own hands. At Good Guy Gear, we offer paid parental leave and flexible work policies so that parents can be set up for success on both fronts.

In addition to standard paid leave, a flexible work environment is critical so all parents alike can have the opportunity to work the hours that make sense for them and their children. No mom or dad should have to take PTO just to pick the kids up from school when they have the fever. By allowing women to work the hours that they can, it retains more female talent in the workforce—even if it’s part time. Bottom line, moms should not have to choose between work and taking care of their families. 

According to PEW Research, the U.S. ranked 41st in a list of developed countries in terms of offerings after a baby is born. For many mothers, time off after having a baby means taking PTO or enacting the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, which gives a new mom up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. So, Mom can keep her job (although not every employer has to offer FMLA, find out more here), but she won’t get any compensation for staying home with her newborn unless she qualifies for short-term disability under her medical insurance, which will provide her with only a portion of her normal paycheck. 

Not to mention the CDC's recommendation that women should exclusively breastfeed for their baby’s first six months of life, with no government support for small employers to actually offer six months of paid maternity leave. No wonder women struggle.

As we wait for the nation on the whole, to catch up with the rest of the world in supporting parents, we can start by supporting companies (and working for companies) that do choose to support moms. 

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