Balancing the demands of motherhood has never been easy. And, with Covid-19 forcing many women to be an employee, parent and teacher all at once, many working moms are having a hard time keeping it all together.
In fact, 74% of U.S. mothers say they feel mentally worse since the pandemic began, according to a survey by motherhood lifestyle brand Motherly. The report, which gathered responses from more than 3,000 millennial moms between March 9 and April 23, found that 97% of moms between the ages of 24 and 39 say they feel burned out at least some of the time, with the pandemic only making things worse.
“Unfortunately, I was not surprised by the [numbers]” Heather Marcoux, senior editor at Motherly tells CNBC Make It. Since releasing their first State of Motherhood report in 2018, Marcoux says she’s seen the data on how mothers have felt increasingly unsupported by society due to demands at work and at home.
“It wasn’t surprising to me that when the pandemic took away what little societal support these mothers do have, that they would feel mentally worse,” she adds, referring to the thousands of school and daycare closures across the country.
According to the survey results, 30% of full-time working moms say their primary cause of stress is child care, followed by worries around the mental health and well-being of family members.
Mary Beth Ferrante, co-founder and CEO of WRK/360, a platform designed to attract and retain the talent of working parents, says she knows firsthand how the responsibilities of balancing it all have been magnified due to the pandemic. During the first month of working from home, she says both she and her husband traded off child-care responsibilities during the day, taking shifts of working for two hours and then watching their 2-year-old toddler for two hours. But, she says, even with the support of her spouse, she felt overwhelmed by the demands of being a full-time worker and child-care provider.
“We ultimately decided for my mother-in-law to start coming over for a few hours in the morning every day, and that was a game changer for us,” she says. “We were able to have time where we could actually have some focused work without distraction.”
For moms who don’t have the option of outside support, finding time to focus solely on work can be a challenge even when the pandemic is over. That’s why, Ferrante emphasizes, the remote work culture of today could be a benefit for moms in the future as more employers open up to long-term work-from-home options. According to the survey, nearly 60% of working moms say they hope to see more workplace flexibility either for themselves or for their partner after this crisis is over.
Marcoux, who is working from home alongside her 4-year-old son and husband, says that in addition to flexibility, she hopes more employers will have discussions around paid parental leave and on-site child care so that more dads also can have the option of taking time off to care for their child. When all of these benefits are combined, she says, “it creates a winning situation for everyone and reduces the outside burden on moms.”