American Working Mothers are the Most Stressed

According to a recent study, American working mothers are more stressed out than their European counterparts.
Sociologist Caitlyn Collins reveals in her new book, “Making Motherhood Work,” that American mothers experience higher stress levels and feelings of guilt than working mothers in Germany, Sweden and Italy.

In an interview with Psychology Today, Collins says, “I want American moms to stop blaming themselves. I want American mothers to stop thinking that somehow their conflict is their own fault, and that if they tried a little harder, got a new schedule, woke up a little earlier every morning, using the right planner or the right app, that they could somehow figure out the key to managing their stress. That’s just not the case.”
Alleviating the stress on American working mothers is easier said than done. Working mothers often feel like they have to work twice as hard at the office just to prove that they are still dedicated to their jobs.
Science Magazine reports that working mothers often feel this way because they face, what the magazine calls, the “maternal wall bias.” Described as a type of discrimination that working mothers face from co-workers and management. It is a perceived lack of dedication because the mother is, or should be, focused more on their children than on their careers.
On top of the stress of having to prove their dedication to their careers, working mothers also face the societal pressures to be active in their children’s school programs and sporting associations, maintain the household chores, and engage in social activities.
Just writing this article and taking the time to critically think about all of the directions that I am being pulled in as a working mother, was enough to get my anxiety flowing.
Katrina Alcorn, author of “Maxed Out: American Moms on theBrink,” said, “We’re expected to do our jobs as if we don’t have children and then raise our children as if we don’t have jobs.”

So, what is the answer? How do we dial back the pressure on working moms?
In her book, Collins sites the American mother’s lack of external support as a major factor in her increased stress. Working mothers in other developed countries, like Germany, Sweden, and Italy, expect to be supported by both their employers and husbands in order to maintain a healthy work / life balance.
Meanwhile, in the United States, stay at home fathers are routinely mocked for doing “women’s work.” There is no such thing as paternity leave and zero federal regulations for maternity leave.
Men are expected to use vacation days to attend the birth of their children and women are expected to return to work as soon as they are medically cleared. In some cases, as soon as 3-weeks after giving birth.
Changing these ideals won’t be easy, and it will take time. Fathers will need to be more vocal about accepting a larger share of household duties. Working mothers, and fathers alike, will need to demand more from their employers or seek new employment with more family focused companies.
Eventually, companies who want top-notch employees will have to change with the tide and begin offering working parents more flexible options for a better quality of life.

The daycare dilemma

Picture this… a young couple, just starting out in life, have just brought home their first baby. Both the new mom and dad have full-time jobs. Everyone in the immediate family also works full-time, so they begin to shop around for daycare.

The cost of daycare is more than the cost of a 4-year college

Image their surprise when they find out that infant daycare, in many places around the United States, can cost more than a mortgage payment on a $250k home.

As a matter of fact, according to The Balance, “In 33 states (and the District of Columbia), the cost of infant care is more than the cost of in-state tuition at a public, 4-year college.”

How can anyone afford infant care today, let alone young couples and single parents?

What other options do they have?

Become a Stay-at-Home parent.

For double income households, assuming that one parent can foot the monthly expenses alone, the lower earning parent can stay home.

However, CNBC reports that, “a 26-year-old woman who is earning $30,253 and takes off five years to provide care is losing $467,000 over the course of her career — a 19 percent reduction in her lifetime earnings.”

Create a Private Nanny Share

Private nanny shares, which involve several families hiring one nanny and splitting the costs, is not without risk. You would have to vet the nanny yourself and share the nanny’s time and attention amongst enough children to make this a cheaper alternative.

Not to mention, if you hire a private nanny, you are now responsible for reporting wages to the IRS.

Employer Assistance Programs

Some larger employers offer help, like flexible spending accounts or employer sponsored daycare centers, but these options are usually not available to those who need it the most.

Moving Back Home

Couples are selling their homes, or giving up their apartments, and moving in with the grandparents.

Going back home, when available, allows a couple to cut their expenses and either use the savings to afford daycare or take the opportunity to drop down to a single income.

Split Shifts

Depending on the type of work, one parent may be able to change their schedule to a night shift. This can be very difficult on a marriage. It is also tiring for the night shift parent who must take care of a child during the day, but for some new parents, it is the only option.

Seeking State Assistance

Unfortunately, it is difficult for a double income family to qualify for assistance in many states. This leads new parents down a path of frustration and, sometimes, extreme behavior in order to qualify for help.

Loving couples sometimes get legally divorced. Sadly, it is cheaper and easier for one parent to pay child support and the other to qualify for public assistance than it is to find affordable and reliable child care.

The outrageous costs of daycare for children from newborn to 4-years-old can push parents to extremes, from lying about their situation to qualify for aid to illegal and unsafe home daycares.

Perhaps it is time to address the issue of child care in the United States?

Why doesn’t my husband see the laundry?

I’m curious, does your husband ever do chores without you asking him to do them?

The invisible, yet never ending
pile of laundry
Many women have the same complaint, that they have to continuously ask nag their significant other to do chores that OBVIOUSLY need to be done.

Why? Why do men look right past a pile of dirty laundry, or a sink full of dishes, or a messy floor?

While I can’t claim that I am an expert, or that I have it all figured out, I do have a theory.

In a nutshell, genetic memory is the instinctual understanding of the world that we are born with. Male babies may be born with the basic psychological understanding of what has historically been considered “women’s work” vs. “men’s work.”

It is only recently that the idea of shared household responsibilities has been prevalent. Just three generations or so of men have been involved in child rearing and basic household cleaning.

The storage device for dishes
Think about it, your grandfather probably didn’t help your grandmother out too much in the kitchen, did he? I know that my grandfather and great-grandfather where lucky if they knew how to turn on the stove, and I am fairly certain that they thought the oven was a portal to a world full of already cooked food.

Go back another 3 generations and you are on the homestead with women who couldn’t even own land.

We all know that evolution takes time. So, I would image that changing the genetic memory of an entire gender would also take some time, not to mention effort.

Unfortunately, what this means for us ladies, is that we are probably going to be nagging our men folk for the rest of our lives.

Multi-tasking Moms vs. Dads, why Mom wins (and loses)

One of the biggest complaints that I hear from the women in my life is that their husbands can only do one thing at a time.

Usually, this doesn’t become an issue until there are kids in the household. It seems as though, if Dad is watching the kids, then that is all he is doing. There is no cleaning up, throwing a load of laundry in the washer, or making calls. The honey-do-list becomes seemingly invisible when Dad has the kids.

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Why is it that Dad cannot care for the children and do his chores? Are women just inherently better at multi-tasking?

Most women would say yes, many men would tend to agree.

There isn’t much research into this particular claim. One study published in 2013 by Gijsbert Stoet, Daryl B O’Connor, Mark Conner, and Keith R Laws, did find that women out performed men in multi-tasking tests, but there just isn’t enough evidence to say that women are categorically better than men at juggling more than one thing at a time.

In 2017, Nevin Martell wrote an article for the Washington Post that aptly titled, “Believe it or not, dads can multitask, too.

In it, Martell points out that his multi-tasking adaptation was not necessary until he became a father. He also discusses the myth of the 50/50 partnership with his wife, especially in the early stages when she was breastfeeding.

Martell also alludes to, what I believe to be anyway, the root of the issue…the fact that dual income households have only become the norm in recent history.

Think about it. For a majority of us, our mothers were the first generation of women to hold fulltime jobs. Our grandmothers were stay at home mothers, as were our great-grandmothers and so forth.

Women have developed the skills needed to take care of children and chores, and whatever else needs to be done, over thousands of years. For men, this just the beginning of the journey.

Dads, in general, are doing the best they can to catch up with us. So, when you are ready to kill your husband because he is too overwhelmed with 3 tasks to help you with any of your 50, just take a moment to remind yourself that this is new territory for not just him, but his entire gender.

Cut him some slack, and don’t kill him, maybe just wound him a little.