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Managing caregiving and work isn't a woman's issue—it's a human issue

The conversation about caregiving and work must be more inclusive.

Managing caregiving and work isn't a woman's issue—it's a human issue

Even in the 21st century, a gender-based stereotype persists: Men are still heralded as the chief breadwinners, while women are still expected to hold down the domestic front. These societal norms negate the experiences of female breadwinners and male homemakers, whose proportions are rising in both the paid and unpaid workforces. But they also lead people to think the term "caregiver" is interchangeable with "parent" or "homemaker."

Parenting and homemaking are indeed two common caregiving responsibilities, but caregiving takes many forms. Perhaps a caregiver tends to the needs of someone who has a chronic condition or someone who is homebound. Or, they're caring for an ailing member of their extended family.

Maybe they're caring for a pet: Younger generations have started taking on dogs and cats before or even instead of children, and some progressively-minded companies have even responded to this change of family structure with pet-focused flexibility policies.

Plus, millennials are becoming the new "sandwich generation," meaning they are tasked with providing care both up and down. In fact, the average millennial caregiver already spends an average of 21.2 hours a week assisting a loved one.

"As tens of millions of people take on caregiving responsibilities each year, supporting those caring for our aging population has become one of the most pressing financial issues of our lifetime," observes Lorna Sabbia, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

And caregivers don't just provide medical attention: They cook, clean, pay bills, run errands, fill prescriptions, and provide companionship, among countless other tasks. "The healthcare community will say that you're a caregiver if you're providing emotional or physical support or care to someone else, but the reality is that that is so obscure," says Judy Waechter, a hospice community educator. We have to look at what the actual day-to-day details are."

In an essay in The Atlantic, Anne-Marie Slaughter, president of the New America Foundation, decries how modern-day American society undervalues its caretakers. "If we truly valued breadwinning and caregiving equally—as equal components of the American promise of equal opportunity—then we would value male caregivers as much as we value female breadwinners and every permutation and combination in between," she writes.

Slaughter suggests concrete steps to investing in the "infrastructure of care" as much as we do the infrastructure of capitalism—including the implementation of "flexible work arrangements and career life cycles to give breadwinners who are also caregivers equal opportunity to advance over the course of their careers."

She hopes we as a society "would build a social infrastructure that allows people to care for one another, in the same way we provide the basic physical infrastructure that allows them to compete." We, as a society, have notoriously devalued care. The result has been the feeling of a loss of community and support. We need the social infrastructure to support our lives.

And the need for this type of social infrastructure is acute. Caregiving is one of the top drivers of the need for flexibility. Unpaid care (meaning a non-professional providing care to family, friends, others) contributes about 10% to the GDP. Approximately 25% of U.S. adults 18 years of age and older reported providing care or assistance to a person with a long-term illness or disability in the past 30 days. And this doesn't even account for those who are parenting.

Caregiving isn't just a women's issue, nor is it exclusively a parents' issue—though either would be reason enough to justify change. Instead, caregiving is a human issue—and one that business leaders would be well-advised to prioritize.

Originally posted on Werk.

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We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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