Working Mothers Are Not the Problem

maternal wall

Earlier this summer, an article about child care and women in the workforce inspired a reader to ask this question:

"Why, I wondered, in 2015 do we continue to focus on mothers as the problem? Why doesn't society understand that all of our children are our best resources for the future, and spend energy looking for real solutions to a seemingly never-ending problem of 'those' working mothers?

The sentiment is 100% on the money. But it doesn't go far enough. What it fails to note is that the same solutions that support the next generation also support the very substantial contributions "those working mothers" make themselves.

Supporting Working Mothers, Fathers, and Companies

Working parents (and we would be remiss if we didn't include dads here) are more than merely a named subset of employee culture. As National Work and Family Months gets underway, it's good to remember that they're a huge segment of the workforce. The Pew Research Center says 71% of women with children under 18 are working parents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics adds that 60% of couples with young children have two working parents.

Their potential contributions should be considered important opportunities. Why? Working parents are masters of the multi-task. There's so little air in their days, they're especially adept at fitting together multiple jobs like pieces of intricate jigsaw puzzles. One article referred to them as "plate spinners at a carnival."

"They juggle their children's school schedules and activities while balancing their own work deadlines, attending conferences, and sneaking in the occasional shower," wrote Zeynep Ilgaz on Forbes."

Why Working Parents and Companies Should be Fighting for Child Care

To be sure, simultaneously cooking dinner, mediating a sibling squabble, and troubleshooting a 6th-grade science project builds some master time-management skills. In our new Modern Family Index, released last week, managers told us that even they recognize working parents' distinct skills, giving these employees high marks for being better adept at important things like problem solving and crisis management.

If these employees are some of your businesses' best, then it stands to reason that helping them out is good business. In our Lasting Impact studies, more than three-quarters of employees told us that child care was the best benefit they have. One-in-seven told us they've actually turned down a new job - most for higher pay - just to keep their child care. They also tell us they work better knowing their kids are cared for in a place they trust.

All of that says that while top-notch child care and early education does indeed do the very important job of giving a solid educational start to the employees of tomorrow, it also ensures a solid support structure for your great employees of today.

That's why parents are fighting for it - and why businesses should be fighting for it, too.
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Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.