I am a stay at home mom who also works part-time. I had my daughter just months before the pandemic, and outside childcare wasn’t really an option. But I also didn’t want it to be. I wanted to spend that quality time with my daughter when she was little. I wanted to be there for her first steps; her first words; her first everything. I want to be a stay at home mom. 

I am fortunate enough to be in a field where I can easily work remotely and choose my own hours, and my husband also works flexible hours from home. I’m on parent duty in the morning, and when my daughter wakes up from her nap he takes over. It’s a routine that works well for our family, and one I acknowledge comes from privilege because not every family can 1.) afford to live off of less than two full-time salaries and 2.) work jobs that allow a flexible, remote schedule. But as my daughter gets older, I also realized something else.

The price of childcare is a burden on many American families. With costs eclipsing $1,000 a month (per kid!), childcare accounts for roughly 21% of the US median income for a family of three.

Though I am choosing to be a stay at home mom, I’ve received opportunities for full-time work that I’ve decided to turn down, even though they’re remote. Why? Because the cost of full-time childcare would essentially balance out the extra income I’d be making (and my kid’s too busy to juggle raising her with full-time work, even from home). The price of childcare is a burden on many American families. With costs eclipsing $1,000 a month (per kid!), childcare accounts for roughly 21% of the US median income for a family of three. Don’t even get me started on affording childcare for multiple children…

It’s part of the reason why so many mothers partook in the Great Resignation. The other reason is the lack of support moms receive in the workplace. The US is one of just six countries without any form of national paid maternity leave and one of eight without national maternity leave of any kind, meaning it’s up to the employer. Someone I’m close to who is expecting her first child is already stressing out about going on unpaid maternity leave and having to go back into the office when her baby is only three months old, when she should be focusing on the joy of becoming a mother. And the stress doesn’t end there. 

Our 2022 State of Motherhood survey uncovered that 48% of Gen Z and millennial moms feel dissatisfied with how their employer handles flexibility with their schedules and time off needs. The pandemic has made us re-evaluate a lot in our lives, and it’s made us cherish that time spent at home with our families (unless you’re a parent of a school-age kid. That’s a different story). It’s proven that many jobs can be worked remotely and schedules can be more flexible; however, not everyone has the opportunity to work from home or be a stay at home mom.

The other side of the coin is those who ask themselves, “can I afford to be a stay at home mom?” or wonder how others can afford being a stay at home mom. You may have a partner whose job doesn’t cover the bills on their own, or you may not have a partner at all. These are the moms I really feel for. And it’s just another glaring example of how much more we have to do as a society to make sure that mothers are supported. 

When Serena Williams announced her retirement, there was a particular line that really got to me (and I’m sure I’m not alone). “Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” she wrote in her Vogue essay. “If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.” The thought that even a woman of her stature feels the strain of being a working mom made me wonder how the average mom must feel, and how our “choices” about the kind of moms we want to be is quite complicated.

METHODOLOGY STATEMENT

Motherly designed and administered The State of Motherhood survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1197 respondents, Millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.