National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is coming up at the end of this month, which is a chance for kids to see what their parents do for work. For many working moms, however, it feels like we bring our kids to work every day—both mentally and emotionally.
There have been widely published articles discussing the mental load of parenting on women. The mental load is everything moms carry with them besides their “half” of parenting and household duties (which is often more), like organizing, scheduling appointments, signing kids up for activities, making doctor’s appointments, reminding everyone where they should be and acting as overall household project manager.
Add to this the worry many of us carry when our kids are at school or work in today’s environment (especially for moms of color) and the guilt of working at all. It can feel overwhelming to try to achieve a successful work-life integration that everyone talks about.
💡 In a 2020 survey of 1500+ working moms, WerkLabs found moms reported that they did between 91-100% of childcare/household-related workload.
The 2017 Modern Family Index, a survey conducted by Bright Horizons Family Solutions, found that working mothers are twice as likely as working fathers to manage the household and three times more likely to take charge of their children’s schedules. The pandemic has only amplified these pressures, causing many women to drop out of the workforce altogether.
It can feel like a never-ending workday, but there are things employers can do to help alleviate this burden for working moms. Here are a few places to start:
Flexibility and remote work
Offering flexibility in the form of remote work, hybrid work schedules or having the ability to start and end their workday as they choose, is something working moms have been asking for a long time. Control over their work schedule can be invaluable when dealing with school drop-offs and pickups, after-school activities, doctor’s appointments, sick days and school conferences, to name a few. Not having that flexibility has put working moms at a disadvantage for decades, resulting in unhappy workers, feeling of guilt, burnout and a strain on their mental and physical health.
This kind of flexibility, along with a company respecting its importance at an organizational level for all workers, is critical. This has been reinforced during the pandemic where womenwe have surveyed have stated that staying remote, at least 2-3 days per week, is essential for them to continue working.
Employers can offer many support services that will benefit working moms, which span benefits, mental health services, childcare options and continuous education programs.
Fostering a culture of openness and inclusion is critical to enabling conversations between workers and their employers. While businesses can’t cater to every situation, creating an environment where people feel comfortable asking for time off or asking for help when needed goes a long way.
💡 In terms of policy changes, there is a benefit for organizations that offer child care support. The Internal Revenue Service lets companies claim 10 or 25 percent of the cost (up to $150,000 a year) when they set up a daycare center or subsidize their employees’ child care expenses in other ways, such as providing a referral service.
When you look at benefits—which are changing due to the pandemic—consider extending a dependent care Flexible Spending Account to workers. Parents save about 30% on qualified care expenses for children under 13 through these pre-tax accounts, along with adults who are physically or mentally disabled and need care.
If you have an Employee Assistance Program that offers discounts for mental health services, promote this within the organization, so parents know it’s available for them to use. If you don’t, consider starting one.
Make sure any work-life programs you offer are available during the workday, perhaps over a lunch hour, so parents can take advantage of them. If you have a standing 8:30am or 3pm team call, consider moving this to a time that’s not school drop-off or pick-up. Small changes can add up.
Consider your talent strategies
As a part of an organization’s commitment to helping parents, partnering with companies that help them find, attract, interview and hire qualified, curated talent for their roles puts that commitment into action.
💜 At The Mom Project, we are committed to helping support working mothers throughout their professional journeys. This includes resume services, community engagement, support services and qualified job opportunities for working mothers. We connect employers in all 50 states with over 400,000 highly talented, remote working moms who are ready to help your company succeed.
We provide accountability for the candidate experience, from meaningful relationships with job seekers, engagement throughout the hiring process and provide a community network where all of our talent can connect with each other—both professionally and personally.
When all of the considerations above are taken into account, employers can have a massively positive impact on the mental load of working moms. Employers who are willing to step back and consider how their policies, support offerings, partnerships and leadership support working parents will ease the burden of them feeling like they are shouldering it all on their own. This means a more engaged and successful workforce and a culture that attracts and retains a diverse workforce.
As a part of our commitment to this topic, this is the second in the series, “Easing the mental load of the working parent,” intended to help shed light on the importance of women’s mental health and how companies can support working parents organizationally. We look forward to sharing more with you soon. In the meantime, be sure to sign up for more information and tolearn how we can help you unlock the power of moms.