The New Mommy Track
US News & World Report has done a cover story on some Mothers in America today: The New Mommy Track. It’s a mom/ workplace trend piece with three main stories: 1) More mothers win flextime at work, and hubbies’ help (really!) at home; 2) Busy moms pick jobs carefully, pay dues and negotiate; and 3) The Age of the Alpha Mom.
Hey! They interviewed me for that last one. I wonder why? Hmm…..
Overall, good job to the journalist, Kimberly Palmer. She touches on some very important issues and highlights some resources where moms can find out how to get on The New Mommy Track, for blending home and work.
Truthfully, though, I like Star Jones’ take on the story better. Why? You can see for yourself below. But, Star really pressed that this story continues to focus on moms who work white-collar jobs and are in a much stronger position to pick their jobs and negotiate (and demand!) flexibility. The majority of women and mothers don’t fall into this category. (Fairness to the article, they did touch upon this point. But Star emphasized it).
You see, it’s more than about just a need for flexibility. Corporate America and government have not put in place policies to assist in the very real challenges of a vast majority of mothers today. Overall, few women have the family-and-friends support system they need to make it all work in today’s world. Even if a mom has some flexibility at her workplace, it’s about others structures she needs that don’t put her at risk for losing her job.
I mean, it’s about having:
1) Affordable & Quality Child Care. Too many moms can’t afford it. Too many moms are weighing the cost of child care versus their own take-home pay. What happens if her kids get sick? She needs to stay home because she can’t afford a babysitter. Days off can add up, putting her at risk for losing her job.
2) Paid Maternity & Paternity Leave. A fairly common experience of many new moms is financial difficulties and time stretched too thin by the birth of a new child. The Motherhood Manifesto points out “In fact, the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t have paid leave other than Australia (which does give a full year of guaranteed unpaid leave to all women, compared with the only twelve weeks of unpaid leave given to those who work for companies with more than fifty employees in the U.S.). A full 163 countries give women paid leave with the birth of a child. Fathers often get paid leave in other countries as well—forty-five countries give fathers a right to paid parental leave.”
3) Quality After School Care. Yep, the level of mom anxiety rises way up after 3pm. Too many moms (who also work outside of the home) have kids who don’t have anyplace to go after school. The statistic is astonishing: more than 40,000 kindergarteners are home alone after school and more then 14 million kindergarteners through 12th-grade kids are on their own after school with out supervision. Moms are fearful of accidents and trouble into which her kids are getting during that unsupervised after school time. Having to leave work early again to deal with emergencies, puts her job, and therefore her family’s welfare, at risk.
4) Affordable & Quality Healthcare. Again, rising medical bills put an unbelievable amount of pressure on families with the need for too many parents to take on additional work. It becomes a vicious cycle as that takes away from family time which puts kids at risk for further health, safety and developmental harm. The Motherhood Manifesto points out: “medical related bankruptcies are skyrocketing. There’s been a twenty-threefold (2,300 percent) increase in medical related bankruptcy filings between 1981, when only 8 percent of bankruptcies were medical related, and 2001. And, … most of those who went bankrupt had health insurance (a full 76 percent had insurance when their illness started), and those filing for bankruptcy are “predominantly in the middle or working classes.”
First of all, I hope that US News & World Report follows-up this story with others that focus on the reality of what the majority of mothers in America actually face in terms of work and family life, and what we can all do to change it.
But more importantly, what can we do about it NOW? We can use our pens and keyboards to demand change. And, it’s only a few clicks away.
Visit MomsRising and the National Partnership for Families & Women to take action and to educate yourself on a number of issues discussed above.