Year of the Mother

Motherly and Mom Congress are declaring 2020 as the “Year of the Mother”, with a new social media campaign that launches today!

Motherly is a lifestyle brand that informs and inspires Millennial women through the journey of motherhood. They have partnered with dozens of brands, media organizations, influencers and more in an attempt to help make mothers’ life easier. Mom Congress is the U.S. mother’s rights movement addressing the most pressing policy issues of motherhood including what we call the “motherload” (the stress that U.S. mothers carry, at higher rates than other developed countries).

Motherly and Mom Congress have joined forces, and today (January 20, 2020) they are launching the #yearofthemother campaign on social media. As you probably have expected, me and Project Mamager could not abstain.

Research suggests America’s mothers are the most stressed moms in the western world, and it’s no wonder. As I have also pointed out, United States is the only member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that has not implemented paid leave on a national basis!

Motherly’s 2019 state of Motherhood survey results are equally enlightening on where we stand with Motherhood as we speak. The survey is quite detailed and juicy, but I will focus on points that tackle the relation between Motherhood and the Workplace:

  • Motherhood and Me. While 76% of Moms under 30 feel most defined by Motherhood, only 62% of Moms over 35 say the same, suggesting that as Mothers mature, they retain or re-connect with other aspects of their identity. Importantly, one-third of Millennial Moms say they are “most strong defined by other non-Motherhood aspects of their life and self.”
  • Work and the Millennial Mom. 53% of Millennial Moms in the sample are working full-time, 15% part-time and 28% are not in the workforce currently. The majority of Millennial moms surveyed (54%) had a Mom who worked outside the house on a regular basis. Among those working and in relationships, 39% report contributing half or more of the household income, while 43% contribute between a quarter and one-half and 16% contribute less than a quarter.
  • Impact of Parenting on Work. Overall half (50%) of Millennial women surveyed report making a change to their work status since becoming a Mother. Nine-in-ten (90%) part-time working Moms say they changed their work status since becoming a Parent, as did a quarter (24%) of full-time working Moms. Among Moms not currently employed, 73% report changing their work status, mostly to becoming stay-at-home Moms. Most obviously for part-time working Moms is changing to working fewer hours, i.e., moving to part-time from full-time (55%); followed by working from home (11%) or getting a more flexible role (7%). For Moms who have continued full-time work, getting a more flexible role (10%), working fewer hours (6%), and working from home (4%) are the main ways they are adapting work to Motherhood. Examining the reasons behind why Moms have adjusted their approach to work is a mixed bag. For some (22%) it is about adjusting to new responsibilities. For others (20%) work became less important. A small but significant number (10%) also point to employer conditions not being conducive to working and Parenting for a variety of reasons including the cost of childcare, inability to strike a work-life balance or the work culture not being supportive.
  • Attitude toward Work & Parenting. Just about half (51%) of the working Moms surveyed say, “I feel discouraged: it’s extremely challenging managing trade-offs,” while a third (33%) say, “I feel optimistic, I believe it’s possible to combine them creatively.” Perhaps of greater concern is that so few Millennial Moms feel empowered by working. Fewer than 1-in-10 (9%) feel that becoming a Mother has helped them in their career, and the majority of those (59%) say they have felt that way since their child was a baby, indicating that this empowering is coming from within, rather than the workplace recognizing and validating the contributions of working Moms! Yet, when asked how work impacts their Parenting skills, more than half of working moms (55%) say that working has empowered or inspired them to be a better Mother. This holds true for working moms of all backgrounds and both full and part-time. Even more positively, 90% say their work choice has helped them set a positive example for their children – again equally true for full-time and part-time working Moms.
  • Support at Work. Topping the list of the ways in which employers could better support Mothers is longer, paid maternity leave (24%), followed by on-site childcare or childcare subsidies (21%), so in total 45% would like more support from employers in the transition to Motherhood and ongoing support of child-rearing . Combined, flexible schedules (12%) and remote work opportunities (15%) make up the second big request from working Moms – helping them better fit the need to work into the necessities of being a Parent.

In 2019, American Millennial Moms said even more strongly (85%, compared to 74% in 2018) that society does not do a good job of understanding and supporting Mothers. This view is held across groups regardless of race, ethnicity, age, number of children and so on. More than ever, they want government to step it up with family friendly policies on leave and childcare (59% compared to 49% in 2018) and they want to see employers be more understanding and offer flexible hours and part-time work (22%).

I haven’t conducted my own research on the matter (just yet), but I have an unresting feeling that things aren’t that much different in countries outside the United States (let alone the paid maternity legislation part). So I’m with Motherly and Mom Congress on this: let’s up our game and make 2020 the Year of the Mother. Let’s demand support across the board on a variety of topics that remain unsolved, both in the United States and beyond, such as:

  • Paid family leave in America.
  • Maternal health crisis to be addressed.
  • Better maternal mental health support.
  • Support for Mothers feeding their babies.
  • Affordable childcare solutions.
  • The cultural expectations that contribute to maternal stress.
  • Acknowledging the value and contribution of Parenting competences in the Workplace.

So, for 2020 and beyond, Project Mamager is proudly standing alongside Motherly and all other organizations and advocacy groups fighting to get Mothers all over the world the support they need and deserve! Why? Because it’s high time we took Motherhood seriously rather than for granted.

Featured Photo: Motherly

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