"Unprecedented" has become a cliché way to describe pandemic, but for parents, this time truly merits the adjective. For this population, the past 20 months have been defined by the near-impossible task of juggling childcare, work, and personal time. And who has borne the brunt of this burden? Moms. A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that almost 70 percent of mothers report the resulting stress and anxiety has negatively impacted their health and well-being. The pressure seems to be driving many moms out of the workforce. According to the United States Census Bureau, 10 million mothers with school-aged kids were not actively working in January 2021—an increase of 1.4 million compared to January 2020.
Moms everywhere are living in crisis. So we asked real mothers of different races and backgrounds what moms need during the pandemic, really. On this week's episode of The Well+Good Podcast, our hosts talked to three mothers about the obstacles they've faced over the last two years, and what changes they hope to see as a result of the pandemic in the future.
Tune into the latest episode of The Well+Good Podcast:
What moms need during the pandemic, according to three women
1.Comprehensive and affordable childcare
"Everyone should have access to safe, reliable childcare for their kids, whether they work or not," says Clare Brown, a digital marketer who also creates TikTok videos that highlights systemic racism and other social issues. "And then, on the flip side of that, you should pay childcare workers a livable wage. It shouldn't be this afterthought profession. I think women need that feeling that they live in a society that values the work that they say is so important." As the number of childcare workers continues to fall, many mothers who want to return to work have been forced to stay home because they simply can't find good care for their kids. And even those who do find someone may be forced to pay up to 41 percent more annually per child than they were paying pre-pandemic, an expense that's simply not feasible for many. (Relief may come in the form of the Build Back Better bill, which will fund childcare for millions of families with kids under 6...so long as it can make it past the Senate.)
2. Partners, not "helpers"
Brown also says that male partners need to step it up when it comes to childcare during the pandemic. According to Center for Global Development, women were responsible for three times as much childcare during the pandemic. This gap in responsibility may account for both the fact that women's employment has fallen during the pandemic, and that even women who continued to work have spent more collective hours establishing stasis between their work and parenting responsibilities.
3. Time to themselves to rest and grow
Apart from being stressed and anxious, many moms are simply tired. "Rest was a big word for me in these last 18 months," says Kimberly McGlonn, PhD, founder and CEO of Grant Boulevard, a sustainable fashion brand that combats economic injustice and marginalization. "The other big word was 'grace.' Having grace with myself, having grace with other people. I'm really hoping I can do a better job, moving forward, of centering the verb rest."
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