Why #yearofthemother is good for dads, too

The demands being made in the #yearofthemother posts aren't just demands for society to support mothers, but to support families through policies that will target gender inequality and help all parents thrive.

Why #yearofthemother is good for dads, too

Social media is a powerful tool and can be used to organize movements, and if you look at posts tagged #yearofthemother you can see an important movement of mothers growing.

Motherly has joined mamas around the world in declaring 2020 the #yearofthemother and demanding change, but this movement won't just help moms—dads need the #yearofthemother, too.

We talk a lot about how gender inequality is hurting mothers but evidence suggests it is also harming fathers. While at first glance it seems like dads have a good deal—they get the fun parts of parenting, fewer household chores, more professional opportunities—gender inequality is hurting fathers' mental and physical health.

The demands being made in the #yearofthemother posts aren't just demands for society to support mothers, but to support families through policies that will target gender inequality and help all parents thrive.

#yearofthemother could help dads live longer

As Liz Plank, author of the new book, For the Love of Men: A Vision for Mindful Masculinity recently explained in The Washington Post, gender equality helps men live longer, happier lives. She points out that Iceland is both a leader in gender equality and male life expectancy.

Plank writes: "According to research by Norwegian sociologist and men's studies expert Oystein Gullvag Holter, there is a direct correlation between the state of gender equality in a country and male well-being, as measured by factors such as welfare, mental health, fertility and suicide. Men (and women) in more gender-equal countries in Europe are less likely to get divorced, be depressed or die as a result of violence."

#yearofthemother aims to reduce dads' stress levels

A recent survey of men from the U.K., Australia, Canada and the U.S. found 70% of fathers say their stress levels increased when they became a parent for the first time—and it's really no wonder. New dads are in an impossible position: They desperately want to spend time with their new babies but feel they can't miss work (even when they have parental leave) due to financial pressures and the stigma that follows men who take parental leave. Fatherhood is a massive identity and lifestyle shift, but many men are expected to walk back into work just a few days after becoming dads and act like nothing has happened.

As Motherly has reported countless times, the 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. The U.S. has an amazing opportunity to act on this non-partisan issue with the advantage of decades of data from other countries.

That data proves that paid leave policies work best when the stigma against dads taking their leave is removed by the schemes that offer "use-it-or-lose-it" leave just for fathers. Paid leave can't target gender inequality when fathers feel like they are taking leave from the mother or when government or company policies force families to designate a primary caregiver. Such designations make fathers the secondary parent and that is not fair to fathers, mothers or children.

#yearofthemother could help fathers be the parents they want to be

Today's dads are more involved parents than fathers of previous generations but there are still a lot of factors holding them back from being the parentsand partners—they want to be.

As Claire Cain Miller recently reported for The New York Times, today's young men embrace the idea of gender equality but still don't embrace care work at home. "A new survey from Gallup found that among opposite-sex couples, those ages 18 to 34 were no more likely than older couples to divide most household chores equitably. And a sociology study published last month found that when high school seniors were asked about their ideal family arrangement with young children, almost a quarter said it was for the man to work full time and the woman to stay home, a larger share than desired any other arrangement," Cain Miller writes.

Women spend more time on household chores and more time on childcare despite increasing being the breadwinners for their families. As Dr. Darcy Lockman, author of All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership, wrote for the New York Times, "Division of labor in the home is one of the most important gender-equity issues of our time. Yet at the current rate of change, MenCare, a group that promotes equal involvement in caregiving, estimates that it will be about 75 more years before men worldwide assume half of the unpaid work that domesticity requires."

But it doesn't have to take 75 years. It could happen tomorrow. Research suggests that if dads take up just under an hour of unpaid work per day, women could cut their unpaid labor time by the same amount.

So what's stopping dads from finding those 50 minutes to vacuum the living room or bathe their kids? The same cultural expectations that contribute to maternal stress. Inflexible workplaces and schedules, a lack of paid leave and unaffordable childcare are absolutely a factor, as Lockman points out, "the amount of child care men performed rose throughout the 1980s and '90s, but then began to level off without ever reaching parity."

It didn't reach parity because our culture never got around to supporting working parents even long after women entered the workforce. "Fathers repeatedly tell researchers they want to be more involved parents, yet public policy and social institutions often prevent them from being the dads they want to be–hurting moms, dads and children alike," Kevin Shafer an Associate Professor of Sociology; Faculty Affiliate in Social Work, Brigham Young University writes for The Conversation.

The exact same things mothers are demanding in the #yearofthemother hashtag are the things that will finally let fathers destress and thrive at home. As Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Prime Minister of Iceland, wrote in 2019, "The key topics here are universal childcare and shared parental leave. If applied properly, these policies have the potential to change the makeup—and the rules of the game—of both the public and the private spheres. Why? Because they enable women to participate in the labor market and public decision-making, while making space for men to share domestic responsibilities."

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

Keep reading Show less
Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less

The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

Keep reading Show less