Working motherhood is hard enough—without all of the baggage that comes along with it.
Even though mothers often prove themselves to be able to do impossible things, there is still one obstacle they struggle to overcome: working and being a mom at the same time.
But the biggest hurdle isn’t reconciling a professional life with motherhood in reality—it’s overcoming the ridiculous stereotypes and myths our culture imposes on women.
When women think that they can’t successfully work and mother, they hold themselves back. When employers believe women can’t manage both, they hold women back. And surveys show that many people in America even today believe that women can either be good raising children or at doing their jobs—but not both.
But that is simply not the reality for millions of inspiring American women raising families and supporting them, too.
As the daughter of a working mother, I know how amazing it is to watch a strong and independent woman who successfully copes with all of her duties and multitasks different parts of her life. From my childhood, I was motivated to follow her example. What is more, studies show that working mothers are so used to hard work that they simply outperform their colleagues, because motherhood is the hardest job in the world.
So let’s debunk the most harmful falsehoods about working mothers that make their lives even harder. Here are those 6 myths—
1. A working mom cannot dedicate much time to her family
This is the most common stereotype that all working moms hear constantly. But it’s false! There are 24 hours in a day—8 hours in a work day, and plenty of time to get it all done.
Plus reality paints a different picture than the myth: Working mothers today actually spend more time on childcare than stay-at-home moms did in 1965, data reveal. You read that right. They’re spending less time on housework and leisure activities, and more hours on quality time with their children.
Plus, nobody doubts that men are great fathers when they go to work to support their families each day. Yes, working mothers have to devote their time to a job, but you can be absolutely sure that they devote the rest of the day to their children and partner.
2. Working moms are not reliable
In an always-on age when workers email their bosses before, during and after “traditional” working hours, the idea that working moms are not reliable is laughable. Who is more reliable than the working mom who gets up early to finish a project or the one who stays up late to meet a deadline? Reliability might look different than before, but moms know they have to pull through when it counts.
Moreover, real-life examples show that working moms know how to separate their job from their private life in a very professional way, so claiming them to be unreliable is completely unfair.
3. Mothers work just to avoid dealing with household issues
Sure, burning deadlines and stress at the workplace are so pleasant, aren’t they? Nobody likes domestic chores, but it doesn’t mean that women go to work just to avoid cooking and doing laundry and groceries.
It’s certainly untrue that mothers have a rest when going to their jobs.
4. Working moms are just trying to prove something
Working mothers can be proud of themselves when they’ve got career and motherhood going on.
However, working only to show that they are working is not what they’re all about. Yes, some people work just to prove something, but a mother who has children at home and wants to devote her life to them isn’t going to work just to feel herself useful. The central reasons mothers say they go to work are to support their households and to fulfill their ambitions (self-realization). These reasons don’t need any justification.
Studies actually say that children, especially girls, are not only okay with their moms working, but also can benefit from them in terms of personal growth.
So she’s not trying to prove something to the world—a working mother is simply trying to do something for herself and her family.
5. Working moms scorn stay-at-home moms
There are many stereotypes about working moms, but there are even more misconceptions about stay-at-home moms. Working mothers are still mothers, and they have a clear understanding that being a mom is difficult, whether a woman has a job or not. Taking care of kids is challenging work. All mothers know that.
So working moms are not likely to push forward the fabricated “working mom vs. stay-at-home mom” mentality.
Some women feel that their families are happier when they stay at home, the others believe that having a job is a better option. Both of these positions have advantages and disadvantages, but there is no opposition between women who choose different options.
6. Working moms are miserable
Working motherhood is hard. So is stay-at-home motherhood. (See above.)
Working mothers’ lives are full—full of deadlines, full of diapers, full of meaning and purpose and fulfillment. If working moms struggle, it’s because they live in a society that doesn’t value and support them in all they contribute—at work and at home.
Yes, the working mom struggle is real.
But so is the reward.