Without childcare, 40% of working moms are working even more

The pandemic is fast tracking burnout.

Without childcare, 40% of working moms are working even more

It's impossible for parents, employers and lawmakers to ignore the impact of COVID-19. The pandemic disrupted every facet of everyday life and it highlighted how a work culture that fails to recognize the humanity of employees makes humanity vulnerable.

There are holes in our social fabric, holes that mothers fall through every day—these are the holes that are letting COVID-19 through and the virus is making them even bigger.

A new survey of 1,000 moms conducted by HeyMama and InHerSight finds 3 in 5 working moms say they are less productive while working from home during COVID-19, and 2 in 5 say they are doing more work. This means many moms are working longer and longer hours to make up for all the interruptions.

Moms are asking for more flexibility to deal with this, but as a recent case in California shows, they don't always get it. But we need it, especially now. According to Motherly's annual State of Motherhood survey, one of the things mothers want most post-pandemic is flexibility at work.

"Flexibility has always been really important to women in general and moms specifically, as they try to balance work and life and make the best decisions for their families," Ursula Mead, CEOand cofounder of InHerSight, says. "Throw in a pandemic and a lot of our day-to-day needs from regular, non-stressful times become that much more acute and critical."

Childcare is critical and also non-existent for many moms right now. The pandemic caused many childcare centers to close and many will not reopen. It's estimated between 20% and 50% of childcare spots will be lost due to the pandemic shut down. Many day care centers simply aren't able to reopen, and those that are need to accept fewer children to adhere to social distancing recommendations.

Now, months after sending employees home and setting up remote work, some companies are calling workers back to the office, a move that is likely to widen the wage gap for mothers says Meredith Bodgas, the editor-in-chief of Working Mother. She writes: "[B]usinesses are reopening and demanding parents return to their workplace instead of continuing to work from home with kids, leaving parents with little choice but to stay home to care for their children."

Motherly reader Rachel knows what that's like. "I had to leave my job temporarily to stay with my daughter," she explained."It's not easy, but not a lot of choices!"

The stats back up what Bodgas is saying and what Rachel experienced.

Worldwide, almost 300 million kids are out of school and millions more are out of day care due to COVID-19 precautions. Parents are stressed, especially moms, who are 10 times more likely than dads to miss work in situations like these.

In our society working mothers are often expected to parent as if they don't work and work as if they don't have the responsibilities of a parent, so when schools and childcare centers close mothers shoulder the burden of society's impossible standards. "I am working 40+ hours a week from home, teaching fifth grade online, while caring for a 4-year-old and an 18-month-old." says Motherly reader Elaine. "My husband is an essential worker and still has to go in three days a week, so I am on my own most days."

Motherly's third annual State of Motherhood survey found the lack of childcare due to COVID-19 is a top source of stress for mothers in the United States right now. It's stressful because of the day-to-day struggles of trying to work while a child asks you for snacks or homework help, but also because this moment in history is likely to harm our earning potential.

It's unfair, but women still earn less than men, and the gap gets worse after parenthood (and it is even worse for Black moms). Despite the fact that women are more likely to get a post-secondary education, and despite the fact that we make up 56% of the population on college campuses (according to the National Center for Education Statistics) we are still being paid less and perceived as less committed to work due to our responsibility to our children (even if we don't even have any yet).

The double whammy of eroding day care spots and the expectation that workers return to the office is forcing some mothers to quit their jobs.

Studies suggest that even if women like Rachel are able to return to work in the future, these gaps are going to hurt their lifetime earnings and their career potential.

Continuing to offer remote work is part of the solution here. Instead of calling employees back to the office before the nation has its childcare infrastructure back up and running, companies should consider extending remote work and flexible hours and even offering them permanently,

For example, Motherly has always been fully remote and thrives with a fully remote workforce, and more companies are following Motherly's lead during the COVID-19 crisis. Twitter and other leading companies are allowing employees to keep working from home even when the threat of COVID-19 wanes.

This is important because as Motherly's third annual State of Motherhood survey found, what mothers want most from employers in a post-COVID world is want more flexibility for themselves or their partners.

But remote work without childcare is still hard and not an option for everyone.

Another recent study suggests productivity suffers by 2% when parents work from home without childcare. We need childcare whether we're in the office or at the dining room table. We need to call on our lawmakers to ensure that day cares can not only reopen, but that the entire industry can be better (and more affordable) than it was before.

We need to demand affordable childcare in America, because that is the only way to prevent the wage gap from widening and to ensure that parents who don't have the luxury of working remotely, like teachers, cashiers and everyone else who doesn't sit at a keyboard all day can also get back to work.

The system has been broken for too long, as Elliot Haspel, the author of Crawling Behind: America's Child Care Crisis and How to Fix It. writes: "despite charging fees so high it makes many parents want to weep, most childcare providers operate on margins of less than 1%, and the average daycare center teacher makes around $11 an hour, with limited if any benefits. In fact, more than half of early childhood practitioners qualify for public assistance. This is, of course, a ridiculous state of affairs. It was ridiculous before COVID-19 ever appeared, and now, unfortunately, it's gone past ridiculous to take the shape of a true crisis."

We need childcare to be affordable for parents and not exploit the labor of (mostly female and disproportionately Black) childcare workers.

Way before COVID-19 2 out of 3 families were struggling to find care that meets their standards. Childcare needs to be part of America's plan for economic recovery, for the sake of our children's futures and their mother's future earnings.

[A version of this post was originally published March 6, 2020. It has been updated.]

14 sweet 'just thinking of you' gifts for every mama

A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.


Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.


Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.


Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!


Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.


Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.


'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."


Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.


Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.


Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!


Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.


Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.


Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.


Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


This incredibly soft comforter from Sunday Citizen is like sleeping on a cloud

My only complaint? I've slept through my alarm twice.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, there are many factors that, as a mama, are hard to control. Who's going to wet the bed at 3 am, how many times a small person is going to need a sip of water, or the volume of your partner's snoring are total wildcards.

One thing you can control? Tricking out your bed to make it as downright cozy as possible. (And in these times, is there anywhere you want to be than your bed like 75% of the time?)

I've always been a down comforter sort of girl, but after a week of testing the ridiculously plush and aptly named Snug Comforter from Sunday Citizen, a brand that's run by "curators of soft, seekers of chill" who "believe in comfort over everything," it's safe to say I've been converted.

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I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have kids—so here’s what I did

We asked our three most pessimistic friends who have kids whether it's worth it or not

As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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